The KC Chiefs travel to Foxborough for a date with the New England Patriots this Sunday afternoon in arguably the best game of the week. What should fans be watching for in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship?
Well, the biggest match-up of the season has arrived; The Kansas City Chiefs versus the big, bad New England Patriots, who everybody roots against. Can the Chiefs do what they couldn’t do in two tries a season ago and knock off the league’s most hated team?
Let’s take a peek at what fans should be watching for this weekend.
IMPROVING KC DEFENSE VS STRUGGLING PATS OFFENSE
What ultimately cost the Chiefs against the Patriots last season was their inability to stop the New England offense. Time and time again, the Pats had third and long, and the Chiefs defense couldn’t get them off the field.
While the Kansas City defense hasn’t been spectacular this year, they have improved greatly. Their run defense is still a problem, but fortunately for them, the Patriots can’t run the ball, sitting 21st in the league at rushing yards per game, per NFL.com.
Passing yards per game, the Patriots rank eighth in the league, but that’s due to the lack of a run game. They’re not necessarily strong in that department, and the Chiefs pass defense sits in the top half of the league when it comes to yards allowed per game. A far cry from a season ago, for sure.
So, something has to give here, right? Will the Patriots offense heat up or will the Chiefs defense continue to look as good as it has in years?
CAN CHIEFS OFFENSE GET IT GOING VS DIFFICULT PATS D?
On the other side of things, there’s the “struggling” Chiefs offense going up against one of the best defenses in the league in New England. I’m honestly not sure where this dominant Pats defense came from or if it’s simply been that they’ve played crap offenses to this point, but we’ll see how good they are this weekend, I suppose.
I put quotation marks around struggling because while yes, the Chiefs offense isn’t what it was a year ago, they still scored four touchdowns last week against Oakland. Patrick Mahomes hasn’t been good the last two weeks, so that has to change this week. He also needs to plan on not having Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce out there to help him in the passing game.
New England is ranked as the second best pass defense in the league, so it’s going to be difficult for Mahomes to have a big game. That sets up for my next point…
KC RUN GAME NEEDS TO UP THE ANTE
The running back position has been a headache this year, with the Chiefs having a lot of injuries and inconsistency there. Damien Williams had the job coming into the season, but he’s been either – as I said – injured or ineffective.
LeSean McCoy was brought in to help out in the run game, but his fumbling woes got him benched for a week and it’s pretty clear Andy Reid doesn’t have the same confidence in Shady as he did at the beginning of the year. Even still, he’s one of the few healthy backs on the roster this weekend.
Darrel Williams finally got his shot a week ago, but is now on injured reserve, so there goes his season. That paved the way for rookie Darwin Thompson to get a chance and he scored the first touchdown of his career last week. He’ll likely get a bulk of the carries in Foxborough this weekend.
Lastly, the Chiefs recently re-signed Spencer Ware, who had success with this system awhile back. Ware seems like a desperation signing to me, but he knows the system and simply put, the Chiefs need running back depth.
With the Patriots being good against the run, it seems unlikely that the Chiefs backs will have much success this week, but we’ll find out I guess.
BREAKING THE STREAK
The last time the Patriots lost a game at home was back in September of 2017, which came against… You guessed it, the Kansas City Chiefs. That ended in a Chiefs blowout victory, so this team knows they can win in Foxborough in front of that hostile crowd.
Since then, the Patriots have gone undefeated at home. Can the Chiefs break that streak?
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This will be a fun game between two interesting teams. While the Chiefs’ chances of grabbing the top seed are likely gone, they could still nab the two seed if they win out and the Patriots or Ravens trip up along the way.
There’s a lot riding on this game, so let’s see who comes out on top!