The time has finally arrived. This weekend, the KC Chiefs travel to take on the New England Patriots for the first time since New England prevailed over the Chiefs in last season’s AFC Championship Game.
Last year’s AFC Championship Game was a doozy between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. That game, which took place in Kansas City, saw 38 points combined get scored in the fourth quarter before the contest headed to overtime.
In the extra period, New England scored a touchdown on their first drive, winning 37-31.
But enough of that (still painful) reminder. It’s time to look ahead. Right now, the Patriots, of course, sit atop the AFC East at 10-2 but have the Buffalo Bills right on their heels. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have a solid grasp on the AFC West, but still need help to get a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
To prepare for the matchup, I’ve reached out to Tarringo Basile-Vaughan, an expert at Chowder and Champions, which a) is making me crave soup and b) covers Boston area sports for the FanSided network.
Here’s my Q-&-A with Tarringo:
Right now, the Patriots offense ranks 18th in yards per pass attempt and tied for 28th in yards per rushing attempt. What’s going on?
Tarringo: The Patriots offensive struggles this season starts with injuries and instability along the offensive line. Losing [c]enter David Andrews for the season was huge. Along with [l]eft tackle Isaiah Wynn missing the majority of the season and the struggles of right tackle Marcus Cannon and guard Shaq Mason, it has been a struggle giving Tom Brady the time to throw as well as running the ball where Mason was huge last season.
Obviously, the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement was huge for Brady and the passing game. Not only have they not been able to get production from the tight end position in the passing game, they also miss his blocking. Add that to Pro-Bowl fullback James Develin also being out for the season and the running game really hasn’t been able to get going. Sony Michel has not run the ball like he did in his rookie season and the team has gone away from the run game at times when they should’ve stuck with it.
In summary, the New England Patriots offense need to execute and develop trust amongst Brady and the receivers and stabilize the offensive line so Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can feel more comfortable with his play calling.