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2019 NFL playoffs: 5 early things to know about the AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Chiefs

New England will visit Kansas City one week from today.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The New England Patriots took care of business earlier today by completely dominating the visiting Los Angeles Chargers en route to a 41-28 victory. It was a strong performance by the AFC’s number two seed from start to finish — one that sets up a meeting with the number one next week: the Patriots will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to go against the 13-4 Kansas City Chiefs with a Super Bowl ticket on the line.

We will break down the contest all week long, but for right now make sure to get a first impression of the matchup ahead with our five quick things to know about Patriots versus Chiefs.

Kansas City fields the NFL’s best offense

You may have heard it by now, but the Chiefs’ offense is outstanding — and it did not skip a beat despite losing starting tailback Kareem Hunt in November. The unit rolled though the season up to this point and scored 26+ points in every single one of its games so far. All in all, Kansas City’s offense averages 33.4 points per contest (when factoring in defensive and special teams scores the number jumps to 35.1) and is seemingly able to add to the scoreboard at will as its ridiculous 3.3 points scored per drive show.

Patrick Mahomes is terrific

A big reason for the Chiefs’ success is the usual cast of characters. But while tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill are both among the best at their positions, second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the engine that makes the whole machine run. The 23-year old is a safe bet to win the NFL MVP title this year after completing 383 of 580 passing attempts during the regular season for 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Mahomes has been very good so far this year and is excellent when it comes to keeping plays alive or throwing from outside the pocket.

Both teams changed quite a bit since their week 6 meeting

New England and Kansas City met in week six and the Patriots came away victoriously by defeating the visitors 43-40 on a last-second field goal. Since then, however, both teams underwent some turnover. The Chiefs lost the aforementioned Hunt but will have Justin Houston and possibly Eric Berry available on defense; the Patriots will be without Josh Gordon but have seen the emergence of J.C. Jackson and John Simon. One thing that did not change: both teams are still very good.

The Chiefs defense struggles against the run

While Kansas City’s offense has been explosive and productive all year long, its defense has been rather inconsistent. Not only did the unit rank in the bottom third in every major statistical category — with one notable exception being sacks (the Chiefs led the NFL with 52) — it had particular issues versus the run. The worst ranked run defense per Football Outsiders, Kansas City gave up 5.0 yards a rush during the regular season. New England averaged 4.7 yards per carry in week six (37 non-kneel down runs for 174 yards) and scored three times on the ground.

Kansas City is not invincible at home

Even though Arrowhead Stadium is one of the best homefield advantages in the NFL, the Chiefs are not invincible there. Kansas City went 8-1 this season so far with the one loss coming against a team that was blown out by the Patriots today: the Chargers went into the stadium in week 15 and left 29-28 after a frantic fourth quarter rally. In order to get a similar result next Sunday, the Patriots will need to overcome their road woes — the team went just 3-5 outside of Foxboro this regular season — and jump to a quick start.

Welcome to Pats Pulpit Live: Victory Edition! The Patriots whooped the Chargers 41-22 and will be heading to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in next week's AFC Championship Game!

Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, January 13, 2019