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After 2014 blowout, Patriots and Chiefs meet in playoffs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The last time the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots squared off, it was an unforgettable night, one that Bill Belichick has absolutely no interest in revisiting.

"Go back and look at everything I said right after the game. Do you want something more than that?" Belichick snapped this week when asked what went wrong in that 41-14 blowout on Sept. 29, 2014.

"That was a year and a half ago, so whatever you want I'm sure there's plenty of. I was asked 1,000 questions about it. If you don't have access to it, I'm sure you can get the transcripts of that."

In the days following that game, which was on ESPN's Monday Night Football, Belichick uttered his now famous "on to Cincinnati" remark that became a rallying cry of sorts for the Patriots en route to a Super Bowl championship.

In that spirit, it's "on to Kansas City" in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs on Saturday (CBS, 4:35 p.m. ET), and this time the game will be played at Gillette Stadium, not the Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs have won 11 in a row, making them the hottest team in the NFL. Here to break down the matchup are ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss (Patriots) and Adam Teicher (Chiefs).

Reiss: I'm sure you've received this question quite a bit this year, Adam, but how do you go from 1-5 to 11-5 and then win a wild-card playoff game so convincingly (30-0 over Houston)?

Teicher: I do get it a lot, Mike, but that's natural because this type of thing doesn't happen much. A lot went into it, certainly. Start with this: When the season began, the Chiefs thought they would be a strong team that would contend, at least, for the AFC West championship. They were more stunned than anyone with the way they started the season, but that's why they didn't give in to any impulses to make changes. They stuck with the plan and were rewarded for it. The team was eventually as good as the Chiefs thought it would be. The Chiefs were missing a key player, cornerback Sean Smith, early in the season because of a three-game NFL suspension. The Chiefs proved to have great depth at a lot of spots that helped carry them through what could have been crushing injuries, particularly the one to Jamaal Charles. The schedule also eased considerably. Six of the first seven games were against teams that wound up in the playoffs, but the Chiefs played only one against an eventual postseason team over the final nine weeks.

Mike, the Patriots have been respectful publicly of the Chiefs, as expected from a Bill Belichick team. Privately, what are they saying and thinking about Kansas City?

Reiss: It's the same every week, Adam. The Patriots are going to highlight and talk about their opponent's strengths because they expect to get their best. But every team, including the Patriots themselves, has weaknesses and they'll look to exploit what they perceive the Chiefs' weaknesses to be. My sense is that they feel they could have an advantage at the line of scrimmage against the Chiefs' offensive line, so that's one area I'd highlight.

Many brokenhearted fantasy football owners who had Charles on their team never recovered this year when he went on season-ending injured reserve. Somehow, the Chiefs overcame it. What have they done to do so?

Teicher: The Chiefs did a nice job of not only building depth but spotting talent and not being afraid to trust their judgment. The Chiefs drafted Knile Davis in 2013 to be Charles' backup and his eventual replacement, but he hasn't been a good fit for what they do offensively. But they had Charcandrick West, signed as an undrafted free agent last year, and Spencer Ware, signed in January last year as a street free agent, and promoted both over Davis. West is more like Charles: faster and with more cutback ability than Ware. Ware is bigger and more powerful and gets a lot of his yards after contact. They've made for a nice combination.

Alex Smith has done a lot of damage to opposing defenses with his scrambling this season. He didn't have a great game statistically in this regard against Houston last week but he would have had a 64-yard run had it not been called back because of a penalty. Have the Patriots played against similarly mobile quarterbacks this season and if so, how did they handle it?

Reiss: That was one of the things that stood out to me, how Smith was fourth among quarterbacks in rushing yards this season (498), behind Carolina's Cam Newton, Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor and Seattle's Russell Wilson. They faced Taylor twice and saw Newton in the third game of the preseason. I'd add Miami's Ryan Tannehill and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota in that mix too. So this isn't anything they haven't seen; it's just that Smith is obviously very good at it. This is a concern for New England, which has generally done a pretty solid job against mobile quarterbacks.

What makes the defense, which finished the regular season ranked third in fewest points allowed (17.9 average), so effective?

Teicher: The Chiefs have no obvious weakness, so I'm interested in seeing how Belichick and Brady attack them. That will be telling. The Chiefs have a bunch of guys playing well and they're well-coached. The regular down linemen (Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard) are playing well and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is having another standout season. The Chiefs can rush the quarterback, and it's not just the leading pass-rushers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. The Chiefs have depth and versatility in rushing the quarterback. A couple of their defensive backs, Ron Parker and Husain Abdullah, are excellent blitzers. Last, but certainly not least, is rookie cornerback Marcus Peters. He tied for the league lead in interceptions with eight (and returned two for touchdowns) and he had another pick in last week's playoff win over the Texans.

The Patriots didn't get a lot out of their running game this season. They were 30th in rushing yards per game (87.8) and 29th in yards per rush (3.7). What can the Chiefs expect from New England's running game Saturday?

Reiss: Veteran Steven Jackson, who was out of football until he was signed Dec. 22, projects as the lead power back. Then they have second-year pro James White as their top "sub back," which in some pass-first game plans ends up being the lead option. Fourth-year player Brandon Bolden adds depth. That's a significant change from when the Patriots had Dion Lewis (torn ACL on Nov. 8) and LeGarrette Blount (season-ending hip injury Dec. 13). One thing I'd mention is that rushing statistics can be deceiving in this offense because the short passing game is, in many ways, an extension of the running game.