We have entered the dog days of summer, where most of us wait for football to return. Now is the perfect time to take an in depth look at each game the Chiefs have in the upcoming season. The Chiefs begin in week one with a big test against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots. Going into Foxborough is no easy task. Do they have a chance? Let’s take a look.
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January 16th, 2016, Divisional Round: Patriots 27, Chiefs 20.
The most recent meeting between these two occurred in the postseason. The Chiefs controlled the game, possessing the ball for nearly 38 minutes of the game. But, the Patriots prevented Kansas City from pushing the ball down the field, leaving Alex Smith with 4.9 yards per attempt. A Knile Davis fumble, combined with poor clock management, sent Kansas City packing.
September 29th, 2014, Week Three: Chiefs 41, Patriots 14.
This game might be remembered as the game where many thought Brady could be done. The Patriots were decimated on a Monday night in Arrowhead Stadium. Tom Brady threw two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and lost a fumble in that game. Brady eventually came out of the game and was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo. The Chiefs solidified themselves as contenders in that game.
How Are These Teams Different
The Chiefs didn’t make many moves in the offseason. However, they did lose some key pieces. Dontari Poe bolted for the Atlanta Falcons. The front office decided to cut Jamaal Charles. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan joined the team in free agency, and he should help out in the run game. The biggest additions for the Chiefs came via the draft. Kareem Hunt and Jehu Chesson will contribute on offense this season. Second round pick Tanoh Kpassagnon needs to refine his game, but he can be a solid piece down the road. Patrick Mahomes can be the guy down the road, but it’s unlikely he contributes this season.
The Patriots made a bunch of moves in the offseason. They retained corner Malcolm Butler and replaced Logan Ryan with Stephon Gilmore. The Pats also traded for Dwayne Allen. Let’s not forget about Mike Gilislee and Rex Burkhead. The Pats are continuing the trend of adding versatility on offense. They also drafted well, landing pass rushers Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise. In addition, they added Conor McDermott and Antonio Garcia to beef up the offensive line. The Patriots reloaded with plenty of talent.
Why The Chiefs Can Win
There are only a few teams that can say they have the roster to upend the Patriots. The Chiefs are definitely one of those teams. There is enough talent on the defensive side of the ball. Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Tamba Hali can get to the quarterback at will. Also, having a lock down defender in Marcus Peters and a ballhawking safety in Eric Berry help. The Chiefs need all hands on deck when defending against Brady, Gronkowski, and the Pats offense. The fact that they can pressure Brady and have adequate coverage on the back end gives them a good chance. Most quarterbacks don’t respond well to pressure. If you can continually pressure Brady, you can hang with the Pats.
Offensively, the key is ball control. Turning the ball over can’t happen, especially on the road. The Chiefs will need to run the ball effectively while also going vertical in the passing game. Alex Smith needs to push the ball down the field, and he has the weapons to do just that. Travis Kelce will need to be involved heavily to open things up for the wideouts. If the Chiefs can get a good mix of running and passing, along with controlling the clock, they can give themselves a good chance.
Why The Chiefs Could Stumble Out The Gate
The easy answer to this? The Pats are the reigning Super Bowl champs. It is hard to go into New England and win. The in depth answer? The coaching staff in New England is outstanding, and they will continue to look for ways to exploit your weaknesses. The Chiefs struggle the most when Alex Smith is forced to throw 45 times a game. You can bet the Patriots will make things difficult for the Chiefs in the run game. If the Chiefs don’t find balance, the Pats will unleash Dont’a Hightower and company and make life difficult.
The Patriots will also find ways to expose the weaknesses on a defense. Kansas City lacks depth and talent at the linebacker spot. There is no guarantee that Derrick Johnson returns to form. The group behind Johnson is coming around, but they aren’t a complete group. Because the Patriots possess Gronkowski and Allen at tight end, they can use both to create matchup issues in the middle of the field.
The Chiefs do have a very good roster, but it won’t be easy to pull out a win on the road against the Patriots. Alex Smith will have to outduel Tom Brady in this matchup, which I don’t see happening. The Chiefs will hang around because of their outstanding pass rushers, but the Patriots will still find ways to score. Expect the Pats to use everyone they can in their arsenal, and for them to bottle up Ware, West, and Hunt on the ground. This game should stay close for a while, but the Patriots will pull away late.
Patriots 27, Chiefs 17
Chiefs current projected record: 0-1
— Jake Schyvinck is a Managing Editor for cover32 and covers the Kansas City Chiefs. He can be followed on Twitter here.