The New England Patriots have been flirting with trouble for the majority of the 2019 NFL season, winning games in spite of a struggling offense. The team’s issues caught up with them in Week 13, and the story could be the same in Week 14.

The defending Super Bowl champions were defeated handily by the Houston Texans 28-22, only making the final score close with a pair of garbage-time touchdowns. With Deshaun Watson tearing up a typically stout Patriots’ defense, New England had no chance to keep up.

What’s going to happen when the Patriots host the reigning league MVP? 

Kansas City is a three-point underdog at Gillette Stadium, according to OddsShark. Sunday’s total of 48.5 is the largest on the Week 14 schedule.

The Patriots haven’t proven they can win a high-scoring game this season. New England has relied on the NFL’s No.1 scoring defense to be tied for the best record in the league. The champs have lost both games in which they’ve allowed more than 14 points.

It’s hard to believe that the Patriots will be able to hold Kansas City to just a couple of touchdowns. The Chiefs have scored at least 24 points in all but one of Mahomes’ career starts. That includes a 43-40 loss in Foxborough 14 months ago and a 37-31 defeat at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2019 AFC Championship Game. 

The Chiefs are second in the NFL in yards per play. The Patriots are 23rd. 

Lamar Jackson’s emergence as the MVP frontrunner and Mahomes’ mid-season knee injury have overshadowed what’s been another terrific season for Kansas City’s quarterback. 

Mahomes is fourth in the NFL with 298.3 passing yards per game and fifth with a 107.7 passer rating. His 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is second only to Aaron Rodgers. Even in his three loses as a starter, Mahomes has seven touchdown passes, one interception and 346.7 yards per game.

Mahomes is still the best player in football, a mantle he took from Tom Brady a year ago. Kansas City’s edge at both signal caller and the skill positions will be difficult for New England to overcome, no matter how well the defense has played in 2019.

Patrick Mahomes Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on prior to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, Jan. 20, 2019. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Brady’s numbers are way down this season. He ranks 29th in completion percentage, 26th in yards per attempt and 21st in passer rating. Most of the quarterback’s unimpressive statistics can be attributed to a mediocre group of playmakers, which was on full display in Houston. 

Television cameras caught Brady voicing his frustrations about the lack of separation the Patriots’ receivers were getting against the Texans. Julian Edelman leads the team with 82 catches for 915 yards. No other New England wide receiver even has 30 receptions or 350 yards.

New England doesn’t necessarily need a big day from its receivers to defeat Kansas City. The Chiefs are 30th against the run. Opposing rushers are averaging 5.1 yards per attempt.

Before the Oakland Raiders were forced to abandon the run in their 40-9 loss at Kansas City last week, Josh Jacobs ran for 100 yards in the first half. The Indianapolis Colts dominated with 180 yards on the ground when they handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season. Kansas City surrendered 225 yards on 8.7 yards per attempt in a Week 10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Sony Michel is only averaging 3.5 yards per rush. The Patriots overall are only averaging 3.5 yards per attempt, putting them ahead of only three teams. 

Don’t expect New England’s running game to give the offense the boost it desperately needs. 

Kansas City’s pass defense appears to be improving in the second half of the season. The Chiefs are holding opposing quarterbacks to an 86.1 passer rating. Kansas City is 11th with 34 sacks.

Mahomes came up just short in two matchups with the Patriots last season. He’ll get over the hump against a lesser New England team in his third try.

Prediction: Kansas City over New England, 27-20