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Why the New England Patriots can beat the Kansas City Chiefs

The Patriots are expected to be at full strength when they host the Chiefs next Saturday. Stew Milne/USA Today Sports

Here are three reasons the New England Patriots can beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday in the AFC divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium (4:35 p.m. CBS):

Full strength: After managing their injury situation for most of the season, the Patriots are positioned to have most, if not all, of the key personnel on their 53-man roster available for action. This should open things up, scheme-wise, especially on offense. In contrast, the Chiefs might be without leading receiver Jeremy Maclin (87 catches), who left Saturday’s wild-card win over the Texans with a knee injury.

Protecting the football: The Chiefs finished second in the NFL in turnover differential, at plus-14 (29 takeaways, 15 giveaways), which is a big part of their winning formula. That trend continued in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Kansas City's 29 takeaways were the fifth most in the NFL in the regular season, but this will be a case of iron on iron, as the Patriots had a league-low 14 giveaways all year. No team protects the football better than New England.

Score to settle: The most recent time these two teams met was Sept. 29, 2014, when the Chiefs put a 41-14 whipping on the Patriots. That loss resulted in a sharp media reaction, as some felt it was the demise of the Patriots franchise, but New England went on to win Super Bowl XLIX. There was no bad blood between the Patriots and Chiefs -- Kansas City coach Andy Reid was particularly classy after the rout -- but some New England players could have sharpened focus with a chance to settle the score from an embarrassing night on Monday Night Football.