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Out With the Old, In With the New in AFC Title Game?

Mahomes KC Chiefs Betting

Patriots vs Chiefs is the AFC title game that we all wanted. Well, except for those who bet on the Colts and Chargers last week and the millions of Patriots haters out there, but you get my point — this is an incredible matchup. The teams previously met in Week 6 in one of the more exciting games of the season that saw the Patriots win 43-40, but the Chiefs covered as 3.5-point underdogs. This time around, the Chiefs find themselves as a 3-point favorite and the total is at 55.5.

There’s no shortage of storylines here — Brady is old, Mahomes is young, Gronk might retire, etc. We won’t concern ourselves with those, but what we will do is take a deep dive into the numbers to hopefully find you a betting edge to help you nail your pick for the AFC championship game.

Shark Bites
  • The Patriots are 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.
  • The Chiefs are allowing just 17.4 points in home games this season — tied for third-best in the NFL.
  • The Patriots are averaging 12.2 fewer points per game on the road compared with at home.

Patriots vs Chiefs Game Center 

Patriots have been dramatically different on the road 

I’m sure many used the Patriots’ domination at home as a reason to justify their pick vs the Chargers last week and rightfully so, but outside of New England this season, the Patriots have been awful. They’re 3-5 SU and ATS with all five losses coming to teams that didn’t even make the playoffs. This was the first time since 2009 that New England lost five or more games on the road in the regular season.

Digging into some stats, the Patriots averaged an astonishing 12.2 fewer points on the road compared with at home, which is the second-biggest disparity in the NFL after the Raiders.

Instead of rambling on, here’s a table that highlights the Patriots’ drop-off in some key areas when on the road this season.

Patriots Home/Away Splits (playoffs included)
Net yards per play0.9 (ranked 2nd)-0.6 (ranked 26th)
Point Margin+15.9 (ranked 1st)-2.4 (ranked 17th)
Red Zone TD Scoring %70% (ranked 6th)45.83% (ranked 26th)
Opponent’s 3rd Down Conversion %32.73% (ranked 3rd)45% (ranked 27th)

For comparison’s sake, the Chiefs ranked in the top four in both points scored and points allowed at home and had a +14.8 point margin at home, which ranks second. Speaking of that Chiefs defense…

The Chiefs defense is being undervalued

I lectured my Twitter followers about this prior to the Colts game, and I’ll do it again. Including that game, the Chiefs have the third-best home defense this season, allowing just 17.4 points per game. An argument against that number is that KC had a handful of pathetic offenses come into town, such as the Raiders, Cardinals and Jaguars. My counter to that argument is that the Chiefs did what they were supposed to do vs those teams, and it’s silly to hold that against them.

That home-dominant defense was on clear display in their divisional-round game vs the Colts when they allowed just one offensive touchdown, which Indianapolis didn’t score until the fourth quarter. The Colts were held to just 263 total yards of offense and were completely shut out on third downs, going a pitiful 0-for-9.

Yes, this defense was very strong at home, but we can’t completely ignore the Chiefs’ tendency to get into shootouts, including their Week 6 loss to New England when they allowed 43 points. On five occasions this season, they allowed 33 or more points, which should provide more than enough tape for Belichick and Brady to study and potentially exploit.

Is the total high enough?

Many bettors will be quick to blindly bet the OVER in this game primarily because these teams combined for 83 points in their previous matchup this season. However, both teams have been strong UNDER bets recently with 11 of KC’s last 14 home games going UNDER, while the total has gone below the mark in eight of the Patriots’ last 10 games.

Chiefs home games have seen an average combined score of 49.67 this season, while Patriots road games are at 45.63. As a result of the recent scoring trends along with the home/road splits for each team noted above, I would lean toward the UNDER. If you disagree (how dare you!) and are considering an OVER bet, I'd advise on waiting to pull the trigger until we have a clearer picture of what the weather will be like.

Do you really want to bet against history?

A clear rebuttal to any argument against the Patriots is their championship pedigree and the fact that Brady and Belichick are the best QB/head coach combo in the history of the NFL. They’ve gone 8-4 SU in AFC championship games and during the Belichick era they’re an impressive 5-3 SU as an underdog in the playoffs. But, here they are being counted out yet again even after humiliating the Chargers in the divisional round.

Belichick has also had the upper hand vs Chiefs coach Andy Reid, winning six of eight head-to-head matchups. As for Tom Brady, he’s coming off a 343-yard passing performance, which was good enough for his second-highest mark of the season, and the Patriots have won seven of the last 10 games in this matchup. And, oh yeah, New England is also 7-1 SU and ATS in its last eight games as an underdog. And, oh yeah again, we all know about Andy Reid coming up small in big spots.

So do you really want to bet against history?

My best bet:

Yes, I want to bet against history and am on the Chiefs -3.

If you read the content above, I’m sure you could tell I was going in this direction. If you’re a Patriots fan, I’m sure you find this preview extremely slanted, but I simply can’t ignore how bad the Patriots have been on the road and I don’t think they’ll suddenly snap out of that funk at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

The Patriots have actually lost three straight road playoff games, which highlights the importance of getting the top seed in the conference finals. The home team has won 10 straight conference final games while the favorite in AFC title games is 10-2 SU in the last 12. This pick is much more about the Patriots’ inefficiencies on the road, though. It’s time for some new blood.