What NFL experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs game

Pundits are all over the map.

Bill Belichick
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. –AP Photo/Paul Sancya

COMMENTARY

NBC is hyping Sunday night’s Chiefs-Patriots game as a battle for AFC supremacy.

Bill Belichick sounds like he’d assume finding a Big Y coupon for candy corn about as impactful as the outcome of the game.

But while the Patriots coach was typically drab when asked earlier this week if he felt like the 3-2 Patriots were playing for the top seed in hosting the 5-0 Chiefs (“I feel like we’re playing Kansas City.”), the ramifications of a loss could put New England in rare territory.

At 6-0, the Chiefs would be three games up on New England for the top seed in the AFC, and also hold the head-to-head card as well. That’s a four-game swing the Pats would have to make up over the course of the remaining 10 games.

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A swoon may one day come with the Chiefs, but they still have a much easier schedule that New England, which still has to play Green Bay, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh.

A win and the Patriots are a mere game behind for the top seed, taking the deserved luster off golden boy Patrick Mahomes and righting the ship in the process.

Just don’t ask Belichick.

This week’s picks

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 45, Chiefs 37. “The Sunday primetime stage delights to welcome a very possible AFC Championship Game preview, while the 1972 Dolphins delight to toast the fall of one of only two remaining unbeaten teams. The Chiefs have a very strong offense but a defense that makes their ‘D’ sound like a letter grade. New England is better positioned to limit wunderkind Patrick Mahomes than KC is to thwart Tom Brady. (Quick aside: Mahomes was 6 when Brady won the first of his five Super Bowl rings). Locale underlines this pick. NE is an awesome home team, and Bill Belichiick with extra time to prepare (after playing last Thursday) is like Usain Bolt with a head start. Chiefs are outscoring foes 59-9 in first quarter, so Pats scoring first could shape this game early. NE will have payback in mind after KC won in Foxborough 42-27 to open the 2017 season. Chiefs secondary is beatable, and Brady (seeking career regular-season win No. 200) has Gronk getting healthier, Josh Gordon fitting in, Julian Edelman back and Sony Michel emerging. The scoreboard might explode.”

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Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Chiefs. “And here’s Bill Belichick being Bill Belichick:

People seem to love this. I don’t get it. Why do people think that being a complete and total a-hole is endearing in any way? What a loathsome human being. Anyway, the Chiefs are better.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 27, Chiefs 20. “This is the game of the week with the undefeated Chiefs facing the Patriots. The Chiefs looked better on defense last week against Jacksonville, but I think the Patriots run through them in this one. Patrick Mahomes will be limited by the schemes of Bill Belichick here and the Patriots will win it.”

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CBS Sports staff: Five out of eight pick the Patriots (New England -3.5). Five out of eight also pick the Pats straight-up.

Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Patriots 34, Chiefs 31. “Well, the Chiefs have already run through the Steelers and Jaguars in the AFC, putting up 72 points, why not the Patriots? But if anyone can devise a plan to slow the Chiefs, who have scored an AFC-high 175 points, it’s Bill Belichick.”

David Steele, Sporting News: Chiefs 34, Patriots 31. “The Chiefs’ tour of potential playoff opponents stops in Foxborough. Kansas City handled the Jaguars’ threat with surprising ease, especially with its defensive showing, clearly not its strength so far. The Patriots wouldn’t be in any real trouble even if they lose, except that if and when they make their expected turnaround and charge into the postseason, they’d have to go to Arrowhead instead of the Chiefs coming to their home. Patrick Mahomes’ test this week will come less from the Patriots’ defense itself, but from the entire Patriots atmosphere and aura.”

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Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 31, Chiefs 27. “The Patriots will flip the script on the Chiefs, as they’ll be the ones operating a methodical, ball-control approach with strong running from Sony Michel and Tom Brady picking apart a bad secondary with short-to-intermediate throw under little duress. Their goal will be finishing long drives with touchdowns and limiting the chances for Patrick Mahomes to answer. New England will avenge their loss in Week 1 of 2017 and get closer to being the team to beat in the AFC again.”

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Chiefs. “I’m actually entirely enticed by Tom Brady carving up one of the NFL’s worst defenses. That, combined with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels managing to milk the clock with some seven-minute drives, is probably the recipe for a Sunday night victory for the home team. But … if you’re passing up free points for the Kansas City Chiefs at this point, aren’t you being criminally negligent?”

SB Nation staff: Five out of seven pick the Chiefs.

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Chiefs 34, Patriots 31. “Bill Belichick likes to take away what the opposing offense does best. Rarely does he face an offense that does everything best.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Chiefs 24, Patriots 21. “The best matchup of the week is on Sunday night, and I think the Chiefs will prove they’re the class of the AFC.”

MassLive staff: Split. “Are the Chiefs ready to assume the AFC favorite status? Are the Patriots ready to give it up? Is either teams’ defense good enough to keep the score from getting ridiculous?”

Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Patriots (-3.5). “Patrick Mahomes looked mortal last week. Bill Belichick isn’t losing to Andy Reid at home in back-to-back seasons.”

FiveThirtyEight: New England with a 54 percent chance of winning.

Elliott Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 34, Chiefs 30. “Patrick Mahomes will have a chance to strut his already mature game in front of a national audience once again in what should be a gem of a Sunday-nighter. Tom Brady should go toe-to-toe, er, arm-to-arm with the Chiefs sophomore QB. With Julian Edelman back, Josh Gordon picking up the offense and Sony Michel providing at least the threat of balance, we’re staring at an explosive matchup … on paper, anyway. Justin Houston’s likely absence makes it more so, as Brady will be able to pat, pat and pat the ball some more until somebody breaks open. Kansas City’s pass rush is oft-absentee, and I’m not talking about ballots. Yes, they have accumulated a healthy number of sacks, but nobody is throwing the ball more than the Chiefs’ opponents (well, except for Andrew Luck). That’s why involving Kareem Hunt early and often makes sense, much like last year’s kickoff game.”

It says here:  Patriots 37, Chiefs 24.  Mahomes isn’t a rookie, but Belichick-coached teams are still 9-0 at home against first-year quarterbacks. I’ll take those odds with a healthy offense against whatever Kansas City is calling its defense.