The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots are all about numbers heading into Saturday's AFC Divisional Round.
For the Chiefs it's all about counting up the wins—11 in a row, to be exact. Other impressive numbers? Alex Smith's 65.3 completion percentage. His 20 touchdowns. The defense's 47 sacks.
New England has certain numbers in mind, too. Like one week—the amount of rest the roster's had to get Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski healthy. Or nine games, the total Edelman played before his injury. Or 11 touchdowns for Gronk. Brady, 36.
Top-tier numbers rule the day, as they should in the postseason. Below, let's project stat numbers for the game's biggest stars while nailing down a prediction.
When: Saturday, January 16, at 4:35 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Spread: New England (-5)
Kansas City Chiefs
|QB Alex Smith||21-31, 245 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT|
|RB Charcandrick West||13 rush, 54 yards|
|RB Spencer Ware||12 rush, 43 yards|
|WR Jeremy Maclin||6 rec, 101 yards|
|TE Travis Kelce||9 rec, 72 yards, 1 TD|
The biggest number of all for the Chiefs is that 11, an historic turnaround for a team that started the season 1-5.
Kansas City actually turned the season around without Jamaal Charles, too. Charcandrick West wound up rushing for 634 yards and four scores. Spencer Ware has come on as of late, gaining 403 yards and six scores, with the two helping Smith to his impressive numbers.
Defense is what truly carried the Chiefs, though, and not just the aforementioned sack numbers. Safety Eric Berry, corner Sean Smith and breakout rookie Marcus Peters took advantage of the pressure to post some gaudy numbers of their own, as ESPN Stats & Info illustrated:
The pressure by Justin Houston and others will be the key to shutting down Brady. This is especially important considering what a tough time Smith will have moving the ball against the Patriots, owners of a defense allowing just 240.7 passing yards and 19.7 points per game.
Smith cannot expect a ton of help from his ground game, either. Neither back has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game since Week 12 and won't Saturday, especially if Brady pulls the Patriots ahead and forces the Kansas City offense into a one-dimensional attack.
For that reason, the offensive numbers for the Chiefs won't be sexy. Really, they aren't usually as the team leans on the elite defense to win games. Unless Smith can buck his season and average numbers in a big way, the unit won't post impressive stats in Foxborough.
New England Patriots
|QB Tom Brady||29-48, 303 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT|
|RB Brandon Bolden||14 rush, 45 yards|
|RB James White||8 rec, 66 yards|
|TE Rob Gronkowski||5 rec, 107 yards, 2 TD|
|WR Julian Edelman||9 rec, 110 yards 1 TD|
Despite the week off, New England might not be as healthy as once thought thanks to a new development with Gronkowski.
According to a report by ESPN.com's Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter, Gronk sounds like a game-time decision after getting treatment on his knee at a local hospital.
Still, the idea of Gronk not suiting up is as unfathomable as Ben Roethlisberger missing the Steelers' game, so the above predictions will work under the presumption he can give it a go. Besides, if all else fails, Brady will have Edelman back in the fold to lean on.
"I think the more dependable, consistent players that are out there, the better our offense is going to be. (Edelman's) been one of them for as long as he's been here," Brady said, according to ESPN.com. "Depending on what he can do we'll try to find ways to integrate him."
Perhaps the biggest mystery about the Patriots is how the ground game will work. James White won't go anywhere as the pass-catching back, but Brandon Bolden could wind up losing snaps to recently signed veteran Steven Jackson. However, Bolden holds the advantage in knowing the offense.
Regardless, New England doesn't figure to do much in the way of rushing Saturday. The Chiefs rank eighth against the rush, meaning Brady will take his chances with Edelman against a rookie corner, if not a veteran.
Spreading the Chiefs thin is how to exploit and halt the potent pass rush. With all due respect to the 11-game streak, none of Detroit, San Diego, Oakland, Baltimore and Cleveland had the means to do so. Brady does and it'll show on the box score.
The Chiefs have been impressive, yes. But New England hasn't been at full strength for quite some time and the difference Edelman's presence on the field makes for extending drives and getting the ball out faster will be quite apparent Saturday.
For Kansas City there's a big difference between facing Brady and weapons who can win one-on-one matchups, and shutting down Brian Hoyer and his lone realistic option, DeAndre Hopkins.
Brady's going to undress the Chiefs at home with his offense at full health. When the Chiefs do start to fall back, it's going to be a Bolden-Jackson combo extending drives on the ground.
Expect the Chiefs to keep this one close until just after halftime, where the fatigue of the defense and predictable offense let this one slip away.
Prediction: Patriots 33, Chiefs 17