The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 in overtime to win the AFC Championship and advance to their third-straight Super Bowl.
The Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII last year. The Pats defeated the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI. This marks the fifth appearance in the Super Bowl over the last eight seasons for the Patriots. They are 2-2 in the Super Bowl since 2011.
The Patriots will face the LA Rams in the Super Bowl after the Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints in overtime to win the NFC Championship.
AFC Conference Champions (Since 1999)
1999 Tennessee Titans
2000 Baltimore Ravens
2001 New England Patriots
2002 Oakland Raiders
2003 New England Patriots
2004 New England Patriots
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
2006 Indianapolis Colts
2007 New England Patriots
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
2009 Indianapolis Colts
2010 Pittsburgh Steelers
2011 New England Patriots
2012 Baltimore Ravens
2013 Denver Broncos
2014 New England Patriots
2015 Denver Broncos
2016 New England Patriots
2017 New England Patriots
2018 New England Patriots
The Patriots won their third-straight AFC title and their ninth since 2001. The AFC won the Super Bowl in 12 out of the last 19 years, with the Pats winning five times.
The Patriots went into Arrowhead Stadium as a 3-point road underdog. The Pats were beatable on the road this season with a 3-5 record. They went 9-0 at home this season in Foxboro.
The Pats hosted the undefeated Chiefs in Week 6 during a showdown on Sunday Night Football. The game lived up to the hype and the Pats prevailed 43-40.
In the rematch, the Chiefs got off to a slow start in the AFC title game when the Patriots took a 14-0 lead and silenced the crowd. They were chasing the Pats the rest of the game.
Mahomes vs. Brady, Part II
Patrick Mahomes won the quarterback battle stats wise with three touchdowns and no interceptions against Brady’s one touchdown and two picks. However, Brady picked up the victory despite a valiant comeback attempt from Mahomes. The Chiefs scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.
The Pats O-line protected Brady and did not allow any sacks. Meanwhile, Mahomes was sacked four times.
Mahomes struggled to connect on only 16-for-31 passes, but three of those went for touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce scored one and running back Damien Williams caught two touchdown passes and added another rushing score. Although Tyreek Hill exploded for a 42-yard reception, that was his sole contribution to the game. The Pats kept the “Cheetah” in check.
The Patriots relied on a run-first scheme and finished with 176 yards on 48 run plays. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead added two touchdowns each. Michel rushed for 113 yards on 29 carries. James White added 72 yards from scrimmage.
Although Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski did not get into the end zone, the two combined for 13 receptions and 175 receiving yards.
No Chance in OT
The Patriots won the coin flip by picking heads and they elected to receive first in overtime. The Pats did not give the Chiefs an opportunity in OT because they marched down field 75 yards in 13 plays and scored a touchdown. Rex Burkhead rushed into the end zone for a two-yard score to win the game 37-31.
The overtime rules were tweaked in 2009 so a team could not win in overtime with a quick field goal. The new rules required a touchdown on the first possession to secure an overtime victory. If the team that won the coin toss kicked a field goal, the other team would get a possession to either tie or win outright with a touchdown.
“I thought if we got the chance, we’d score,” said Mahomes.
In this instance, the Chiefs did not get a chance in overtime. After a rough first half, Mahomes got hot in the fourth quarter. The Pats were spared any last-second heroics from Mahomes by winning the game outright. The Patriots clinched the AFC Championship and earned a trip to the Super Bowl.
Brady and Belichick, Again
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have won five Super Bowl titles since 2001, including back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004.
The tandem will be appearing in their ninth Super Bowl together. Brady and Belichick have a 5-3 record in the Super Bowl with two losses against Eli Manning and the New York Giants and a loss to Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles last year. This is the first time that Brady and Belichick are appearing in their third consecutive title game.
This year’s AFC Championship marked eight straight appearances in the AFC title game for Brady and Belichick.
Pats Early Favorite
A couple of major sportsbooks opened the line as a pick’em, but the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened the Super Bowl line with the LA Rams as a one-point favorite. The lines quickly adjusted after early money came in on the Patriots from both amateurs and sharps alike.
The Patriots are currently consensus 2-point favorites over the Rams. The total is 58 points. Super Bowl LIII will be hosted on February 3rd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.