Preview: AFC Championship – Patriots vs. Chiefs
By Nate Weller
Let’s take a brief look at some statistical notes and story lines ahead of the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Chiefs.
Chiefs Pass Offense vs Patriots Pass Defense
- Patrick Mahomes has an Expected Points Added (EPA) per pass of .37 when Sammy Watkins is on the field, and .22 when he is not. A healthy Sammy Watkins could be a big factor in the Chiefs offensive success
- Having Watkins on the field makes it harder for teams to double Tyreek Hill. Hill’s rate EPA jumps from .39 without Watkins on the field to .59 when he is on the field.
- In 260 regular season coverage snaps Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson allowed a QBR against of only 37.7, ninth-best among corners who were targeted at least 20 times. Jackson will likely spend a good portion of Sunday matched up on Travis Kelce.
Patriots Pass Offense vs Chiefs Pass Defense
- The Chiefs led the league in combined sacks with 53. Their pass rush was led by Chris Jones who finished the regular season with 15 combined sacks, all coming after week 4.
- The Patriots offensive line was among the leagues best, allowing only 21 sacks in the regular season. Guard Joe Thuney ranked as the second-best linemen in the NFL by SIS’ Total Points Metric with 7.2 points earned.
- When under pressure, Brady completed only 45 percent of his passes in the regular season, and posted an Independent Quarterback Rating of 81.1. In 2017 his IQR while under pressure was 115.4.
- Julian Edelman will likely garner most of the attention, but Brady had a passer rating of 137.5 on 28 targets to Cordarrelle Patterson this season, the fifth- best QB/WR combo in the league by QBR
- Chiefs corner Steven Nelson was the most targeted player in the NFL in 2018 (112), but quarterbacks only completed 46 percent of passes and posted a QBR of 69.3 when targeting him
The Run Game
- The Patriots defense has a broken tackle percentage of 4.9, second best in the NFL. The Chiefs defense had a broken tackle percentage of 12.5, third worst.
- Chiefs running backs averaged 2.6 yards after contact per attempt and had a broken tackle percentage of 10.3, both top 10 in the NFL.
- The Patriots ranked fifth in the NFL in both rushing yards (2,037) and first downs picked up on the ground (132).
- The Chiefs defense allowed 5.0 yards per attemopton the ground, the second worst in the league, and allowed a first downs on 30.4% of carries, the worst mark in the league