KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have built a dynasty with five Super Bowl championships and eight AFC titles with a simple approach – avoid going on the road in the playoffs.
The Patriots own an out-of-this-world 28-10 postseason record under Belichick since the 2000 season. That includes a sparkling 20-3 record at home, but a less-than-inspiring 3-4 record on the road.
Belichick says there's a simple reason for the club's struggles on the road.
“No matter who you play at this time of year, they're good,” Belichick said. “Obviously Kansas City is the best team in the AFC. That's a huge challenge.”
The Patriots hold an 8-4 record in AFC Championship games, thanks largely to an 6-1 record at home. But the Patriots hold a 2-3 record in conference title games on the road. Those three losses are their last three true road games in the postseason coming in AFC title games in the 2006, 2013 and 2015 seasons. Their last road win in the post season came in the 2006 Divisional Playoffs, a 24-21 win at the then San Diego Chargers.
As a result, the Patriots' postseason success comes from avoiding road trips in January at all costs. The Patriots have played just two postseason road games in the past 12 seasons. They lost both those games, but posted a 14-3 record at home during that stretch with five Super Bowl appearances.
Crowd noise typically looms as the biggest advantage home teams receive, especially in the postseaon. But Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels downplayed the impact the crowd might play Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Look, we've played on the road half our games and there's noise in all the other stadiums,” McDaniels said during a conference call on Monday. “There's going to be noise in this one. We know that, we've experienced it before. But we know how to handle that, and again, it comes down to how well we play this week.”
Home and road splits made little difference on offense for the Chiefs this season. The team's offense ranked No. 4 in points scored at home, averaging 32.4 points per game. But quarterback Patrick Mahomes and offense led the league in road scoring with a 38.3 average.
Defensively, however, the Chiefs have a staggering split personality this season. On the road, the Chiefs rank as the second-worst defense in the NFL, averaging 34.6 points allowed. At home, the defense ranks as the league's sixth-best, averaging just 18 points allowed per game.
The road hasn't been a great place for New England this season, either. The Patriots went a perfect 8-0 at home, but struggled to a 3-5 record away from Gillette Stadium. That's the Patriots' worst road record since they went 2-6 in 2009.
Belichick couldn't avoid at trip to Kansas City this January, but he says his team understands the challenge it faces on Sunday.
“They're a good team at home, they're a good team everywhere,” Belichick said. “They've won every place they've played. We're really competing against a great football team, top team in the AFC. We'll need our best game, we know that.”