USA Today Sports

Boomer Esiason on M&C suggests Patriots would beat Chiefs in playoffs at Gillette Stadium

Alex Reimer
December 03, 2018 - 10:06 am

Boomer Esiason is not convinced the Patriots will return to the Super Bowl for a third straight season following their convincing win over the Vikings Sunday. But the longtime NFL analyst doesn’t see many teams that could usurp New England at home in a playoff game.

In his weekly interview Monday with “Mut & Callahan,” Esiason lauded the Patriots for their 24-10 victory against Minnesota at Gillette Stadium. In particular, he pointed out the Patriots’ four-play touchdown drive late in the third quarter as the turning point. It ended with Tom Brady finding Josh Gordon for a 24-yard TD grab. 

“It’s amazing how they just steamrolled the Minnesota Vikings defense, and the Vikings’ defense is pretty good, guys,” he said. “I know this game was physical, it was intense, the emotions were flowing, Adam Thielen was screaming at Bill Belichick, all of that kind of stuff. It had everything you wanted from a fan’s perspective. But I think what we saw, especially in the second half, is there’s a difference between a championship team that knows how to handle victory, and take victory away from a very good opposing team on their field.”

With the Steelers losing to the Chargers Sunday night, the Patriots are in possession of the No. 2 seed in the conference. That means if the season ended today, they would enjoy their annual first-round bye and host either the Texans, Chargers or Steelers at Gillette Stadium in the Divisional Round. 

While Esiason can see the Ravens or Texans giving the Patriots a fight, he still thinks the Patriots would win any hypothetical January matchup between those clubs in Foxboro “There would be two teams I would maybe give a nod to: Baltimore, only because John Harbaugh did it, though I can’t see Lamar Jackson going into Gillette, if in fact he is the starting quarterback, if he doesn’t get hurt before then with the way he’s playing right now. And maybe the Houston Texans,” Esiason explained. “Deshaun Watson is really playing well, their defense is playing well, and they’re running the ball well. That’s the same thing with the Ravens. If you look at the Texans, Ravens, Seahawks, they’re all kind of the same team. They got off to very slow starts, and turned their seasons around because they started running the ball effectively. Of course, Lamar Jackson is a big part of that in Baltimore. I can just imagine Bill Belichick will come up with a defensive plan if they have to play the Ravens to shut down the whatever passing game there really is in Baltimore. I don’t see Lamar Jackson really (beating the Patriots), but I think they can maybe get close, just because of their experience.”

Esiason says he loves what he saw from the Chargers Sunday, as they went into Pittsburgh without Melvin Gordon and staged an epic fourth comeback to oust the Steelers. Though the Chiefs held on to beat the Raiders at Oakland, Esiason says he thinks Kansas City’s defense got exploited, and doesn’t seem to believe they could beat the Patriots on the road. 

Holding onto the No. 1 seed is paramount for the Chiefs’ playoff fortunes.

“I do worry about the Chiefs, because I don’t think their defense is all that good, and I think that defense was exploited yesterday by Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders,” Esiason said. “They’re going to have to keep home field advantage, and Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will tell you guys that going into Arrowhead Stadium is not that easy when that defense seems to get all revved up with the noise.”