Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and likely NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will present several challenges for the New England Patriots pass defense in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, but this unit is playing its best football of the season.
Since returning from their bye week in Week 12 -- with two weeks to watch film of their 34-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10 -- the Patriots' pass defense has been a shutdown group. These advanced stats help illustrate the dominance from this defensive unit over the last seven games.
The Patriots pass defense has been one of the best units in the NFL since returning from their bye in Week 12.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 16, 2019
The @Patriots have forced the highest rate of tight window throws and have generated the highest rate of pressure against opposing quarterbacks.#NEvsKC | #GoPats pic.twitter.com/uqHf8G4WKy
The Patriots beat Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 6 at home, but they allowed the young QB to throw for 352 yards and four touchdowns en route to scoring 40 points. New England did tally two interceptions, but Mahomes still carved up the defense with relative ease.
The key to making Mahomes' job more difficult on Sunday is pressuring him. The Patriots didn't sack him once in that Week 6 meeting, but their pass rush has been much improved of late. New England's defense frustrated Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throughout last week's AFC Divisional Round win, including two sacks, an interception and many QB pressures.
The Pats will need to give their best defensive performance of the season to beat Mahomes again, and the next-gen stats above show there's reason to believe New England will rise to the challenge.
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