BOSTON (CBS) — With a win on Sunday, the New England Patriots will clinch a playoff spot. They’ll probably have to fight pretty darn hard for that win, though.
Yes, it is December, and the Patriots rarely lose in the final month of the calendar year. And yes, the game is at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots haven’t lost in two years. But New England hasn’t looked particularly great in their last four games, and after dropping Sunday night’s game to the Texans, they fell back in the AFC standings.
Boy, the Patriots could really use a victory on Sunday. But standing in their way is Patrick Mahomes and the 8-4 Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots love to be doubted, and the doubters are out in full force — not just in this game but for the rest of the season. Will the Patriots stick it to everyone who is saying they’re done? They can start that process on Sunday.
Here is how the WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sports team sees Sunday’s game playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
The Patriots are favored by three points over the Chiefs, which is fine as long as they have a kicker. The Pats released Kai Forbath and Nick Foles is still coming off an appendectomy. The good news is this game is at Gillette Stadium, and the last time the Pats lost at home was back in October of 2017. They haven’t lost at home in over two years.
Yes, KC hasn’t forgotten that the Pats knocked them out of the playoffs. That still stings. But so does last week’s loss to Houston.
Patriots 27, Chiefs 24
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
So, I feel like I should push for a tie here because the Pats aren’t giving me any reason to believe they can win this game.
I will say this, the Chiefs offense hasn’t been as explosive as they were last year and the Pats offense ended the game against the Texans on an up note. I’m going to stand on that. At the beginning of the season, I picked the Pats to go undefeated in the regular season and even though they are obviously not going to do that, I will hold on to that premise.
Patriots 28, Chiefs 24
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
I know that the Patriots will say that the stats don’t matter, but they do to me. The Pats are 45-8 following a loss since 2003. I think that trend continues Sunday afternoon.
This will be the New England secondary’s biggest test to date with Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and Travis Kelce giving Pat Mahomes so many options on offense.
Patriots 28, Chiefs 24
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
In football, I’m a big believer not necessarily in “momentum” but in a team’s energy at a given moment. No, last week’s win can’t ever lead to an automatic win a week later, but there’s something to be said for a team that is functioning properly across the board, and there’s something to be said for a team that is not.
It’s not hard to discern which team is which when it comes to this week’s Patriots-Chiefs matchup. And while it’s always difficult to pick against the Patriots in Foxboro, the fact is they’ve been getting off to some really brutal starts lately. Since Week 9, here’s how they stood at halftime each week:
at Baltimore: Trailed 17-13
at Philly: Trailed 10-9
vs. Dallas: Led 10-6
at Houston: Trailed 14-3
That’s relevant because the biggest reason they won both games against the Chiefs last year was because Patrick Mahomes was skittish in the first halves of both games, when the Chiefs scored just nine total points. (They scored an absurd 62 points in the two second halves.) I think that was inexperience on the part of Mahomes, and I believe he’ll be better prepared to get the Chiefs ahead early in this one.
The Patriots will fight back like they always do, but they currently lack the functionality on offense to complete the comeback.
Chiefs 30, Patriots 22
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
Maybe this is the week the Patriots offense gets back on track against a sub-par defense. That was supposed to happen last week against the Texans, and did to some degree. It’s just unfortunate that Tom Brady and company waited until they were down by three scores in the fourth quarter to get their act together.
I don’t have much faith in the New England offense, so it will all come down to Patrick Mahomes on the other side. If he gets back to his high-flying self, the Patriots are in trouble. With Mahomes and all his weapons in the KC receiving corps, this is the biggest test for the New England defense this season.
Chiefs 31, Patriots 21
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs clash on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m., and after the game switch to TV38 for full analysis and reaction on Patriots 5th Quarter!