The upset narrative was fun while it lasted.
It wasn’t long.
The New England Patriots are not the dominant team of old, no. It was easy to look at them and say: They’re vulnerable. It was also easy to look at Kansas City, coming of its 11-straight win and go: they can give New England a run for its money. It was easy, and kind of perfect, because the Patriots have been good for too long, because almost everyone outside of Boston wants them to lose about 95% of the time, and because, well, because last week was so crazy that we kind of wanted to believe this week could be the same.
Easy, but wrong.
The truth is, the New England Patriots are just one of those teams that, when it counts, finds a way to win. Of course, there’s also the fact that Kansas City’s 11-straight wins were kind of deceiving. Until they beat Houston last week, they hadn’t beaten anything resembling a good team since the middle of November. Two whole months.
Also, there’s the Tom Brady factor. From before the game we said Kansas City needed something like a perfect game to pull off an upset against the well-rested home team, and guess what Kansas City did?
No, not play a perfect game.
Turnovers will kill you at the best of times, and these were not the best of times for Kansas City. Add that to the fact that the vaulted Chiefs defense could never get any kind of consistent pressure on Tom Brady, and the fact that both Edleman and Gronkowski looked healthy, and this game was just …well, exactly what it looked like on paper: A New England win.
Just not a beat down.
The Chiefs, bless their hearts, made a boring game somewhat interesting late. They just didn’t have it in them to pull off the upset. For all the tough talk, I’m not sure anyone really expected them to.
Does this mean the Patriots can go all the way to the Super Bowl? Who knows? Whoever wins the other AFC game tomorrow could come with as many questions marks as they have. The health of Ben Roethlisberger is suspect. Same goes for Peyton Manning. Either way, when you have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, it’s just hard to bet against you.
Just as hard as it is to love you.
Game Ball To…
Julian Edelman’s presence changed everything for New England. Tom Brady is a superb quarterback, but he cannot do it alone. With Edelman and Gronkowski healthy, though, the passing game is good enough to win a game. Balance will be needed if the Patriots want to get to the Super Bowl, but for this game, Edelman and Gronkowski were enough.
The New England Patriots will play the winner of the Denver-Pittsburgh match up. If the Broncos win, the game will be in Denver. If the Steelers win, they game will be played in New England.