The penultimate round of the NFL playoffs is nearly upon us, and in the end the league’s top four seeds have secured spots in their respective conference championship games. Here’s the AFC Championship Game odds preview, with lines from online sportsbook Bovada.
Another year, another AFC Championship Game appearance for Tom Brady and his New England Patriots dynasty.
In his 18-year career starting under center for the Patriots, the quarterback they call “Tom Terrific” in New England – and a slew of expletives everywhere else – has certainly lived up to the moniker. Brady has led the Pats to the precipice of the Super Bowl an astounding 13 times – including eight straight seasons – while running off an unparalleled 8-4 record on the AFC’s grand stage.
But over the current eight-year run of consecutive AFC championships, the two times Brady was forced to play on the road resulted in lackluster losses. In fact, while the Brady/Belichick two-headed monster has compiled a sterling 20-3 postseason record (leaving aside neutral site Super Bowls) in Foxboro, the dynamic duo is just 3-4 as the away team.
You read that correctly… Mark Sanchez actually has a better road playoff record (4-2) than the legendary Tom Brady.
All of which is to say the Patriots will face a tall order heading into Arrowhead Stadium to take on the high-octane Kansas City Chiefs.
With the electric Patrick Mahomes leading the way at quarterback, the Chiefs offense led all of football in every meaningful offensive category. Putting up 425.6 yards per game and 35.3 points per game, Mahomes became just the third quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 50 touchdowns in a single season.
And if not for a successful two-point conversion by the Chargers on the final play of the game in Week 15, Kansas City would’ve finished 2018 with a spotless 8-0 home record.
That home field advantage offered by Arrowhead could prove pivotal, especially against a New England team that struggled to a 3-5 mark on the road.
As dominant as the Chiefs were at Arrowhead during the regular season, they’ll be hoping to buck a dreadful trend at home in the playoffs.
Before last week’s 31-13 demolition of the Indianapolis Colts, the Chiefs hadn’t won a home game in the postseason since 1993 – and even that one required last-minute heroics by Hall of Famer Joe Montana. The romp over the Colts ended an 0-6 skid at Arrowhead in January, a run of futility which includes two upset losses under head coach Andy Reid.
Reid’s struggles come playoff time are well documented, as the football lifer has compiled a disappointing 12-13 record when it counts. That mark includes an 0-2 record against Belichick, who led the Patriots to a win over Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
More recently, Reid and the Chiefs lost 27-20 to the Patriots in the 2015 Divisional Round, and this year’s juggernaut counts one of only three losses at the hands of Belichick and Brady.
That game was a 43-40 thriller in Foxboro, a score line which might just offer a preview of the fireworks to come this Sunday.
The oddsmakers at Bovada have the total set at (55.5) on the AFC Championship Game odds, a number which might be a tad low considering these same rosters combined for 50 points in the second half alone in their regular season clash.
And in a shocking sight for veteran bettors, the Patriots have been installed as (+3) underdogs on the AFC Championship Game odds – marking the first time in 68 games (regular season and playoffs) that Brady and Belichick have been given the benefit of points.