Sometimes, you just know what’s coming.
If you spend years and years watching sports, indulging yourself into following your favorite team, scouting the other teams, and watching game after game, week after week — as most of us have — you just develop a sixth sense about these things.
I can’t promise that the Patriots are going to go into Arrowhead Stadium and win, though I do think they have a good chance. Heck, I can’t even promise that we’re going to get a good game on Sunday.
But if I were a betting man — and I’m not, even though I like to act like it sometimes — I would bet this Patriots-Chiefs rematch, with a trip to Super Bowl LIII on the line, is going to be a classic. It just has all the makings for an epic AFC Championship Game, and I just have that feeling. My spider sense is tingling, so to speak.
If this game is anything like the one these two teams played at Gillette Stadium back in October — an absolute shootout that resulted in a 43-40 New England victory — we won’t be disappointed.
Of course, there is no element of this game more fascinating than the quarterback matchup. You couldn’t script a better storyline than this. You have Tom Brady, the 41-year-old veteran who has accomplished everything you can accomplish as an NFL quarterback and then some, starting for New England. You have Patrick Mahomes, the 23-year-old newbie and soon-to-be MVP who appears to be in line to become the next generation’s Brady, starting for Kansas City.
Is there any way to top that?
There is so much on the line for both quarterbacks. Brady has been hearing for years — not just months, but YEARS — that he is washed up, over the hill, on his last breath. Yet, he has led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in three out of the last four seasons. Once again, he’s fighting to cling to his glory, and his status as the king of the AFC.
Meanwhile, Mahomes is the young gun with his entire career ahead of him. He hasn’t accomplished much in the NFL yet, other than turning in one of the all-time great quarterback seasons in his first year as a starter, slinging for an incredible 50 touchdowns and over 5,000 passing yards. But beating Brady and the Patriots in the AFC title game and leading the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl appearance in almost 50 years would be historic.
To put it simply, this game could mean two things: the groundhog could see his shadow, which would mean at least one more year of Brady and the Patriots ruling the football world.
Or, this could be the official “passing of the torch” game in which Mahomes and the Chiefs succeed the Pats as the team to beat in the NFL. It will be one or the other.
Another interesting aspect of this game: we have absolutely no idea which version of Bob Sutton’s Kansas City defense is going to show up on Sunday. Will it be the defense that spent four months of the regular season looking like hot garbage, ranking 24th in the NFL? Or will it be the defense that absolute obliterated Andrew Luck, Marlon Mack and the Indianapolis Colts this past Saturday?
Also, which version of New England’s offense will we see? It could be the one that struggled mightily on the road this season, particularly in Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, in which Brady truly did look washed up while trying to play without any weapons. Or it could be the one that we saw on Sunday; the one that absolutely pounded the ball down the throats of the Los Angeles Chargers, particularly rookie Sony Michel who found the end zone three times and rushed for 129 yards.
Imagine if we get that dominant Patriots run game against that dominant Chiefs defense? It will be quite the show.
And then, last but not least, there is the weather factor. It’s going to be cold. Like, potentially subzero conditions. Possibly the coldest game in the history of Arrowhead Stadium. Brady has proved himself in several of these kinds of games. Mahomes proved himself during last week’s Kansas City Snow Bowl game against the Colts.
This week, we will see if they are truly on the same level. But one thing is for sure: legends are made in January, when the weather is cold and there is something huge, such as a trip to the Super Bowl, on the line.
Get ready, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t know for sure what will happen, but it just really feels like we are going to be watching an AFC Championship Game for the ages on Sunday.
Nothing is better than January football.