It’s Ma­homes ver­sus Brady in AFC show­down

Winnipeg Free Press - - I NFL SPORTS - BLAIR KERKHOFF

THE Chiefs-Patriots AFC Cham­pi­onship Game is set, and some im­por­tant con­trasts couldn’t be sharper.

New Eng­land might as well sched­ule these games by this point. The Patriots are play­ing in the cham­pi­onship game for the

16th time in fran­chise his­tory, but the 13th time in the era of quar­ter­back Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, in­clud­ing eight straight.

The 1993 sea­son marked Kansas City’s pre­vi­ous trip to the AFC ti­tle game, the Chiefs’ only ap­pear­ance there since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970.

Brady is the sport’s most suc­cess­ful post-sea­son quar­ter­back, with five Su­per Bowl rings and eight AFC ti­tles.

Pa­trick Ma­homes, the Chiefs’ se­cond-year pro who has passed for 5,097 yards and 50 touch­downs, has reached the ti­tle game in his first sea­son as an NFL starter.

Five min­utes re­mained in the Patriots’ 41-28 vic­tory over the Los An­ge­les Chargers in the divisional round when CBS com­men­ta­tors Jim Nantz and Tony Romo framed the matchup as the “leg­end ver­sus the phe­nom.”

The teams know each other well, hav­ing met in the reg­u­lar sea­son each of the past two sea­sons.

In Week 6 this sea­son, the Patriots de­feated the Chiefs 43-40 in an en­ter­tain­ing game on Sun­day Night Foot­ball.

The Chiefs lost for the first time this sea­son that night, but put up a fight against the AFC king­pins. Down 24-9 at half­time, the Chiefs took the lead early in the third quar­ter and made it

40-40 with three min­utes re­main­ing be­fore Brady ral­lied the Patriots for a game-win­ning field goal on the game’s fi­nal play.

Ma­homes passed for 352 yards and four touch­downs, Brady for

340 yards, and the quar­ter­backs will be next week­end’s game’s top sto­ry­line.

The 41-year-old Brady showed no signs of slow­ing down Sun­day, with 343 pass­ing yards and a touch­down.

But his team is a three-point un­der­dog in the game, the first time, in­clud­ing the play­offs, since

2016.

In that game, the sea­son opener, Brady was serv­ing a sus­pen­sion. In games Brady has started, the Patriots had been favoured in

67 straight games.

In Satur­day’s 31-13 vic­tory over the In­di­anapo­lis Colts, Ma­homes passed for 278 yards, help­ing the Chiefs to their first play­off vic­tory since 2015 and first at Ar­row­head Sta­dium since

1993.

The Patriots will be look­ing for their first road play­off vic­tory since the 2006 sea­son, los­ing three straight times to Pey­ton Man­ning teams.

They’ll seek it in a place where their most re­cent visit didn’t end well.

In 2014, the Chiefs han­dled the Patriots 41-14.

“That was a pretty crappy loss that night,” Brady said af­ter Sun­day’s game.

Start­ing with that game, the teams have played four times, and the Chiefs have scored at least 40 in three of the games.

Brady ex­pects to get the Chiefs’ best shot.

“Kansas City’s had a hell of a year,” Brady said.

“They gave us ev­ery­thing we could han­dle in Oc­to­ber. I’m sure it will be the same. They’re well­coached with a good of­fense and their de­fense played well against the Colts. It’s go­ing to be fun to play them in the cham­pi­onship game.”

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