I’m going to be honest- the Kansas City Chiefs scared me the most on behalf of the New England Patriots this postseason. They have the third-best quarterback in the AFC with Alex Smith. They have the second-best running back in the AFC with Kareem Hunt. They have the second-best tight end with Travis Kelce and a top five wide receiver in the AFC postseason with Tyreek Hill. They have an elite player on every level of their defense.
Smith is the perfect counter to the Patriots because he’s willing and capable of taking the easy passes and leading 10-play drives that other quarterbacks are not. Combine that with a running game that can set up favorable second- and third-down plays and a good-enough defense, and that spells trouble for New England.
Except the Patriots don’t have to worry about that anymore since the Tennessee Titans upset the Chiefs in a 22-21 shocker at Arrowhead Stadium. The Titans clawed back from a 21-3 deficit at halftime to snatch the victory away from Kansas City in what is simply the best case scenario for New England.
Not only do the Patriots not have to face the Chiefs again, but they’re guaranteed to play a wild card team in the divisional round.
The Titans were the second-place team in the AFC South behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and the #5 seed this postseason. With Sunday’s game between the #3 Jaguars and #6 Buffalo Bills on the schedule, the Patriots will face either the Titans or the Bills.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely have to face the Jaguars or the Titans. The Patriots have the much easier draw.
So it doesn’t matter anymore for the Patriots whether the Jaguars or Bills are victorious on Sunday because the Chiefs were the team New England had to worry about in the divisional round. And now they’re gone.
The Patriots should be huge favorites over both the Titans and the Bills. The question is now whether they want the Steelers to have the more difficult road against the Jaguars, or if the Patriots want Jacksonville’s defense and running game out of the postseason altogether.
And that’s a much more favorable question than wondering if the Patriots can stop the Chiefs next week.