In a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game, two division leaders face a game that may not quite qualify as “must win” for either side. But both the New England Patriots and visiting Kansas City Chiefs would find a “W” highly advisable, as each faces a stiff challenge to a current division title streak.
The Chiefs have taken the AFC West title for three straight seasons. But a win for the Oakland Raiders Sunday against the Tennessee Titans — coupled with a Chiefs defeat — would leave the two teams separated by just a single game with only three left to play. However, the Chiefs hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against their divisional rivals.
The Patriots are facing an even more serious threat to their NFL record of 10 consecutive division titles. They currently lead the resurgent Buffalo Bills by just one game atop the AFC East, with the two teams meeting again in Week 16. New England won the first matchup in Week 4.
But first, the oldest currently active quarterback, Patriots future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, must overcome another challenge from 24-year-old Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs. Last season, Mahomes joined Brady and Peyton Manning as one of only three quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 50 or more touchdowns in a single regular season. Mahomes also won the NFL MVP award — an honor Brady has grabbed three times.
But while Mahomes became the second-youngest player ever to win the MVP award — behind only Dan Marino in 1984 — according to NFL.com, Brady’s 2017 award at age 40 made the New England legend the most elderly MVP.
Watch a preview of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots game in the video below, courtesy of NFL Network.
The Patriots have not lost a home game since October 1, 2017, when they fell to the Carolina Panthers 33-30. Their streak of 23 straight in Foxborough, including postseason, since then likely accounts for oddsmakers installing Brady and Co. as 2 1/2 point favorites at home, according to USA Today.
Otherwise, the Chiefs have looked significantly more impressive in recent weeks. The Pats have dropped two of their last four after winning their first eight straight. A 28-22 defeat to the Texans in Houston last Sunday night marked a low point for New England this season. Narrow escapes against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the previous two games — in which the Patriots failed to score 20 points in either outing, per Pro Football Reference — point to a major opportunity for Kansas City to walk away with the road upset.
The Chiefs-Patriots showdown will be the CBS featured game of the weekend, with A-team announcers Jim Nantz and Tony Romo describing the action for fans in the majority of major markets across the United States.