2018 AFC Playoffs

Bedard’s Pick: If Patriots can survive first quarter, then experience, coaching advantage should carry them

(Getty Images)

We all know the Patriots have not been good on the road this season. The next time the Patriots play a good 60 minutes away from Gillette, it will be the first time since they beat the Bills 23-3 at Buffalo on Dec. 3, 2017.

Yes, it's been that long.

Every single game has been a struggle, from the five losses to the three victories.

Largely because of that, they'll have to win on the road against the Chiefs on Sunday to advance to their third Super Bowl in four seasons.

Should we just ignore their recent history? Should we just see the helmets, Tom Brady throwing to Julian Edelman and James White, and Bill Belichick snarling on the sidelines, and just think they're the same-old Patriots and they'll win out against an inexperienced foe?

Perhaps.

If the Patriots could suddenly erupt and dominate a more talented and more accomplished Chargers team in a manner that no one saw coming, why couldn't they do the same to the Chiefs?

That could happen. I readily concede the Patriots looked like a different football team last week. They had a seriousness and a determination they lacked for much of this season. Brady was pissed off at times. Edelman would not be denied. The defense was suffocating. Maybe the Patriots have learned how to pace themselves, and only dialed up their intense focus for do-or-die games. That could definitely be possible.

It would make the mythology that's been shoved down everyone's throats all these years about this team — nobody works harder than the Patriots, everything starts in the offseason, the most important game is the next game, we're only about football and not hocking t-shirts in the middle of the playoffs, the most important ability is availability, etc. — completely bunk. But yes, it's definitely possible.

And I think that just might happen. Let's go through what I think are the important factors in the game, and then my pick: