Sun Dec 8 8:22pm ET
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
Players: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, LeSean McCoy, Travis Kelce, Spencer Ware, James White, Phillip Dorsett, Sammy Watkins, Damien Williams, Harrison Butker, Darrel Williams, Patrick Mahomes, Jakobi Meyers, N'Keal Harry, Mecole Hardman
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, center, carries the ball in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, center, argues a call in the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden dives for the goal line and a touchdown in front of Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner, left, blocks a punt by Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lands on the turf after being sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce carries the ball after catching a pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce carries the ball after catching a pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, celebrates his touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman runs for a touchdown after making a catch against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman celebrates his touchdown catch against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Bashaud Breeland, center, intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. left, passes under pressure from New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, right, in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Kansas City clinched the AFC West when Bashaud Breeland knocked away Tom Brady's fourth-down pass attempt to Julian Edelman in the end zone Sunday.
The Chiefs survived a series of mistakes and questionable calls by the officials to hold off the New England Patriots 23-16 on Sunday.
Combined with Oakland's loss to Tennessee, the Chiefs (9-4) took their division. And the loss ended the Patriots' 21-game home win streak in the regular season and playoffs, which was tied for the longest in team history. It also was the third-longest string in NFL history.
New England (10-3) has lost two in a row.
Patrick Mahomes was 26 of 40 for 283 yards, a touchdown and interception. Travis Kelce added a 10-yard TD run. Tom Brady was under pressure all night and finished 19 of 36 for 169 yards, a touchdown and interception.
Trailing 23-16, New England got the ball back on their 32 with 5:04 to play. The Patriots immediately gained 35 yards on a pass from halfback James White to Jakobi Meyers to get into Kansas City territory. Officials appeared to miss a clear pass interference call on a deep pass to Phillip Dorsett and the Chiefs forced a fourth-and-6 at the 29.
But the 42-year-old Brady got free and scrambled 17 yards for a first down.
The Patriots couldn't get into the end zone, however, losing the rematch of January's AFC title game.
The Chiefs led 23-7 in the third quarter before they committed a series of mistakes that helped the Patriots close the gap.
First, Patriot special-teamer Nate Ebner blocked Dustin Colquitt's punt, which rolled out of bounds at the Chiefs 19. It set up a 10-yard run by Brandon Bolden that made it 23-13, but White was stopped short on his 2-point conversion run attempt.
The Chiefs gave the Patriots another opportunity late in the third quarter. Travis Kelce caught a pass and was hit Devin McCourty, forcing a fumble and recovery by Stephon Gilmore, who had a clear path the the end zone. The play was blown dead, though, with Kelce ruled down by contact.
It prompted an immediate challenge by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which resulted in the call being overturned and the ball awarded to New England.
The Patriots quickly drove to the Kansas City 15 and Brady found N'Keal Harry with a short pass. Harry weaved through multiple defenders and appeared to stretch the ball over pylon.
Yet he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds at the 3. Brady was sacked three plays later and the Patriots kicked a field goal to close within 23-16.
On Kansas City's next possession, receiver Sammy Watkins and Gilmore got tangled up, wrestled each other to the ground and then had to be separated.
The Chiefs were without two of their leading rushers, Damien Williams (rib injury) and Darrel Williams (placed on injured reserve Thursday with a hamstring injury). It left the rushing duties primarily in the hands of LeSean McCoy, with support from Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware.
They didn't get much traction in the run game other than from McCoy, who finished with 11 rushes for 39 yards. But after a slow start, Kansas City's receivers were able to find space and passing lanes for Mahomes.
One notable example came early in the second quarter. Mecole Hardman got behind Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones and Mahomes withstood pressure to deliver a deep pass off his back foot for a 48-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs in front 10-7.
Brady was intercepted by Breeland on the first play of the Patriots' ensuing drive and Kansas City went right back to work.
Taking over on New England's 39, Mahomes found Kelce in the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain to get the Chiefs inside the 5. Two plays later Kelce took a direct snap and ran it in for a 4-yard TD.
New England used Gilmore to cover Kelce in their two previous meetings, including the AFC title game in which Kelce was largely ineffective. This time he was able to get open for most of the game as the Patriots' safeties drew his primary coverage responsibilities.
Kansas City drove inside New England's 15 just before the half, but settled for a 31-yard Harrison Butker field goal that made it 20-7.
The Patriots received the game's opening kickoff and needed just five plays to drive 83 yards and take 7-0 lead on a 37-yard flea-flicker from Brady to Edelman. The series was aided by a pair of third-down pass interference penalties called on Chiefs cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Breeland.
Kansas City's first offensive drive lasted just three plays before Mahomes was picked off by J.C. Jackson.
Chiefs: LG Andrew Wiley left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.
Patriots: Harry left in the fourth quarter with a hip injury.
Ebner's punt block in the third quarter was the Patriots fourth of 2019, setting a franchise record for a season. With one more they will tie the 1990 Chiefs for the most blocked punts in a season in NFL history
The Kansas City Chiefs needed a police escort to get their equipment to Foxborough, Massachusetts, in time for kickoff.
Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews confirmed that some of the gear was sent to the wrong place and had to be rushed to the stadium. It arrived about two hours before kickoff. The Massachusetts State Police tweeted that they helped the equipment get to the stadium from Logan Airport.
Chiefs: host Broncos next Sunday.
Patriots: visit Bengals next Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill had an incredible performance against the Tennessee Titans during their Week 10 matchup. He caught 11 of his 19 targets for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Tennessee. He'll get another chance to run over the same team in the AFC Championship matchup on Sunday. Hill hasn't been able to get over 100 yards receiving in a single game since that matchup. DFS players know that Hill has a chance to be a complete bust, but the fact he destroyed Tennessee the first time is hard to ignore. Hill has given DFS players a lot to think about before Sunday's kickoff.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is coming off a three touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He hauled in 10 receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns in the Divisional Round victory. The Tennessee Titans main focus has to be slowing down Kelce. They allowed seven receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown to Kelce earlier in the season. Kelce isn't going to be cheap for DFS contests, but he's proven all season long that he's worth the risk.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been tough to watch all season long. He started off the year with a three touchdown performance, but it was downhill after that. Watkins was only targeted more than five times in a game once over the last five games. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have taken over the passing attack in Kansas City. Watkins was able to haul in five receptions for 39 yards during his regular season matchup against the Titans. DFS players shouldn't expect a better performance out of Watkins this time around.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is set to battle with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC Championship on Sunday. Mahomes is coming off a five touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He's already faced off against the Titans once this season and Mahomes didn't disappoint. He threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns in that game. DFS players should be able to lean on Mahomes to at least be efficient on Sunday. He has a solid chance of being the best quarterback out of the bunch in the division title games.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams is coming off a three touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He rushed 12 times for 47 yards and caught two passes for 21 yards through the air. LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson have been absent from the backfield lately. The Chiefs have been leaning on Williams and it's been paying off. He's been able to find the end zone when he's called upon and piled up 109 yards against the Titans earlier in the season. Fantasy owners are aware that Williams has been up and down this season, but he's red-hot right now. He'll be used in both the rushing and passing attack, so DFS players should give Williams a long look for Sunday's slate.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has the confidence of former 49ers QB and Hall of Famer Steve Young. 'When they've asked him to raise up and go win it, he did it,' Young said. 'Those are hard things to do. That just doesn't happen. When you see it in the NFL and someone is able to do it, you go, once you've done it, you can do it again. You can keep doing it.'
Fantasy Spin: Jimmy G wasn't a fantasy factor with his 11-of-19, 131-yards, one-TD, one-interception game in the divisional-round playoff win over the Vikings, but that's largely due to the Niners' overwhelming success on the ground (47 rushes-186 yards). When Garoppolo has been forced to pass, he's delivered the majority of the time, and his fantasy numbers Sunday likely will depend on how much the opposing Packers are able to get done against the San Fran defense.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert is the only player since special-teams tackles were first tracked in 2001 to lead his team in rushing yards and special-teams tackles in the same season.
Fantasy Spin: While Mostert is a breakout talent who led the Niners in rushing in each of their last six regular-season games, keep in mind that it was Tevin Coleman who led the squad in rushing attempts (22), yards (105) and touchdown runs (2) in the divisional-round playoff win over the Vikings as Mostert (12-58-0) battled a calf cramp which he said was an after affect of an illness he dealt with the week leading up to the game. In the meantime, it's a plus matchup Sunday against a Packers defense which allowed the ninth-most rushing yards (120.1) per game during the regular season.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry has rushed for 377 yards on 64 carries in two wins this postseason, but Kansas City Chiefs DE Frank Clark says he isn't intimidated heading into the AFC Championship matchup with the Titans on Sunday, Jan. 19. 'He's not hard to hit,' Clark was quoted as saying on NFL Network. 'He's just a big guy -- 240, 245, 250 (pounds). Honestly he should be running harder at his weight and size. I don't see no difficulty in tackling him. ... He's just easy to me up front because I don't look at any running back like they can't be tackled. He's not one of the best guys at breaking tackles to me, honestly.'
Fantasy Spin: Henry is on a truly historic run -- with only Terrell Davis owning more 150-yard postseason games (four) than Henry's three -- and it will be challenge for Clark and the K.C. D, which ranked in the bottom fourth of the league in allowing 128.2 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry, to slow down -- let alone shut down -- Henry and the run-first Titans.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. likely won't face simple-assault charges for slapping a security officer's buttocks Monday, Jan. 13, as the officer has declined to press charges, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: The Browns -- and OBJ's fantasy dynasty-league owners -- are hoping this the final negative offseason headline the wideout generates for a good while and he starts focusing his energies on improving on his disappointing debut season with Cleveland.
Confirming a previous report, the Dallas Cowboys have hired New Orleans Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be their new defensive coordinator. Head coach Mike McCarthy said he plans to run a defense with four down linemen.
New England Patriots CB Jason McCourty (groin) recently underwent surgery on the groin injury that hampered him throughout the 2019 season.
Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has agreed to become the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, according to a source.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (elbow) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman is coming off one of his best games of the season last week and should continue to receive most of the carries in the running game. He should be a starting option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (ankle) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle is one of the top options in the passing game for the 49ers and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (calf) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert will have a solid role in the running game against the Green Bay Packers and could see a few targets in the passing game. He has a chance to be a flex option in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 17, but is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game. DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) fully participated in practice and is not on the injury report.
Green Bay Packers FB Danny Vitale (knee) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is listed as questionable for the NFC Championship game. TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited during practice but are not on the injury report. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), DT Kenny Clark (back), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OT Billy Turner (ankle) fully participated in practice and are not on the injury report.
Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison (illness) fully participated in practice Friday, Jan. 17, and is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Allison has only been targeted 12 times over the last five games and was held to nine yards in his last game against the San Francisco 49ers. He can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) was limited during practice Friday, Jan. 17, but is not on the injury report for the NFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Graham likely will see a handful of targets in the passing game against the San Francisco 49ers and could be a stating option in some fantasy leagues.
The Green Bay Packers Defense faces a tough task this weekend in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. In their regular-season meeting, the Packers gave up 37 points and only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo only three times. They also failed to generate any turnovers. Green Bay's defense may need to lend their offense a helping hand by creating a turnover or two to swing the field position game. If Za-Darius and Preston Smith can ramp up the pressure, the Packers will have a good chance of generating a turnover or two and winning the game. It certainly won't be easy, considering how formidable the 49ers offense has been this season.