The drive for five is underway for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Brady has four Super Bowl rings, tying him with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most, and now has a chance to claim sole ownership of that NFL distinction.
The Patriots play host Saturday to the Kansas City Chiefs at 1:30 p.m. PST Saturday in an AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium. It will be televised on ABC.
The Chiefs have won 11 consecutive games, the league’s longest active streak, and are coming off a first-round blowout victory over Houston. The Patriots, AFC East winners for the seventh consecutive season, are the league’s first team to win division titles in 12 of 13 years.
But, as Brady knows well, it won’t be easy against the Chiefs, who embarrassed the Patriots, 41-14, when they faced each other last season.
“I think those players are all mentally tough and they’re very well coached and they’ve got a lot of top players, so I’ve got a lot of respect for them as a team, as an organization,” Brady said. “Every time we play them it’s a battle. I’ve had some pretty tough losses against them over the course of my career.”
Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin, who sustained a high ankle sprain in last Saturday’s 30-0 rout of the Texans, is listed as questionable to face the Patriots. He’s a key component to Kansas City’s passing game.
Keeping it tight
This game features two of the NFL’s premier tight ends, New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, both of whom have 72 receptions this season.
Kelce doesn’t see it as a competition between the two.
“I have no control over what that guy does and he has no control over what I do,” he told reporters this week. “Hat’s off to him. Rob has been an outstanding tight end.”
Both players are dealing with injuries. Gronkowski missed practice time this week with a bad back and knee.
Kelce has a groin injury but was a full participant in Chiefs practice.
By the numbers
How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for turnover differential, which is for the season (league rank in parentheses):
STATISTICS: KC | NE
Points scored: 25.3 (9) | 29.1 (3)
Points allowed: 17.9 (3) | 19.7 (10)
Pass offense: 203.4 (30) | 286.7 (5)
Rush offense: 127.8 (6) | 87.8 (30)
Pass defense: 231.1 (9) | 240.7 (17)
Rush defense: 98.2 (8) | 98.8 (9)
Sacks: 47 (4) | 49 (2)
Penalty yards; 54.9 (11) | 53.7 (9)
Turnovers: +14 (2) | +7 (7)
There’s no question the Chiefs are on a roll, and they were dominant last Saturday. The Patriots are vulnerable, too, especially along the offensive line. But the richly experienced Brady will carry the day and move on to the AFC title game.
PATRIOTS 23, CHIEFS 21