Chiefs at Patriots: By The Numbers

The Patriots welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Foxboro on Saturday as their title defense officially gets under way.

The Chiefs are riding an 11-game winning streak where their defense has been dominant, and their quarterback has taken control of the offense.

Let’s take a look at the matchup by the numbers as we head into the divisional round:

Chiefs Defense During Win Streak: The Chiefs defense was always an impressive unit on paper, but since Week 7 (the start of the streak) they have been as dominant a force as any in the NFL. The Chiefs have gone 13 straight games allowing 22 points-or-less, and have been top five defensively in every major category:

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KC forced Houston Quarterback Brian Hoyer to turn the ball over five times in their 30-0 shellacking of the Texans in the wild card round. Protecting Tom Brady from this Chiefs pass rush, and protecting the football, will be the two biggest keys to the game from a Patriots prospective.

Chiefs Without Jamaal Charles: When the KC’s star running back Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in Week 5, most thought that the Chiefs rushing attack would take a big hit in his absence. However, the Chiefs rush offense has arguably been better without Charles as they diverted to a running back by committee approach (Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Knile Davis).  Despite losing Charles early on, the Chiefs actually tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns, and have maintained a high level of play on the ground:

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Alex Smith’s Deep Ball: Over the course of Alex Smith’s career the quarterback has taken some heat for his lack of downfield passing. A lot of that was a result of the style of offense Andy Reid runs in Kansas City (19.6% of Smith’s passes are behind the LOS, 2nd-highest in NFL), but it also appeared that Smith didn’t have the arm talent to push the ball downfield. In 2015, Smith’s numbers on deep passes are up across the board, and you see him throwing deep more and more as his confidence continues to rise. The Chiefs may be without big play threat Jeremy Maclin on Saturday, but tight end Travis Kelce and WR Albert Wilson get deep targets as well:

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Travis Kelce vs Patriots Secondary: Kelce re-wrote the Chiefs record book last week against the Texans, as he set new franchise records in both receptions (8) and receiving yards (128) for a Chiefs TE in a playoff game. That says a lot when Tony Gonzalez basically owns the Chiefs franchise records in most receiving categories. The matchup against Kelce is one of strength vs strength. As the Patriots, for the most part, have locked down opposing TEs this season mostly by using either Patrick Chung or Devin McCourty in coverage. With Jeremy Maclin either out or severely limited, the Chiefs success on offense will be decided on the ground and throwing the ball to Kelce:

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Bill Belichick vs Andy Reid: We all remember the last time these two met, and how it didn’t end well for the Patriots, but overall Belichick has gotten the better of Andy Reid over the years. The 41-14 beat down in Kansas City in 2014 was the 2nd-worst margin of defeat in the Belichick era. Since then, the Patriots are an NFL best 25-6, including the three wins in last years Super Bowl run:

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