A stiff challenge awaits the New England Patriots, to say the least.
The Patriots on Sunday will welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Gillette Stadium for an AFC Championship Game rematch. Kansas City has won three of its last four games and seems primed to take off after dealing with a handful of key injuries, including to Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill.
While both Patriots-Chiefs meetings last season turned into offensive shootouts, it’s tough to imagine this trend will follow suit Sunday. New England’s offense has been listless over the past few weeks, and the Patriots’ defense likely will subdue Mahomes, at least to an extent. That said, Ray Lewis believes the reigning MVP’s versatility could be the difference-maker in this heavyweight bout.
“The two losses that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have this year has come from Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson,” Lewis said in the latest edition of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” “Patrick Mahomes has the same ability, same skill set. Keep the ball moving. That’s why I’m picking the Chiefs to go in there and win this game.”
Saying Mahomes has the same skill set as Jackson and Watson feels a bit off the mark. Jackson is the best running quarterback the league has seen since Michael Vick, and Watson also is much more dangerous on the ground than Mahomes, who’s averaging under three rushing attempts per game this season. Mahomes does have an uncanny ability to extend plays, but the Patriots probably don’t have to worry about the 24-year-old torturing them with his legs.
But as we saw in Week 13, New England’s defense isn’t completely impassable to chunk plays. Mahomes and Co. can stretch the field with the best of them, and it might only take a few of such plays to get by the Patriots given how their offense has played of late.
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