Despite a bit of a slow start, the New England Patriots ended Week 3 with a 36-20 win against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Patriots’ offense continues to impress in a multitude of ways. Josh McDaniels and the offense will need to take it up another notch this week as they take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Here’s our matchups to watch, keys to victory, and our prediction for yet another Patriots and Chiefs battle.
Details of the Game:
- New England Patriots (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
- October 4, at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
- Kansas City leads the overall series 19-14-3
Matchups to Watch:
The New England Secondary vs. The Chiefs Passing Attack
The Patriots Week 4 clash presents a massive challenge for the New England secondary. Kansas City, led by Patrick Mahomes, ranks fourth in passing yards per game (292.3) in the NFL. Speaking of Mahomes, he’s coming off a tremendous game against a good Baltimore Ravens secondary. Mahomes went 31/42 for 385 yards and four touchdowns.
The impressive passing attack is more than just Mahomes though; the Chiefs have a dynamic receiving core in Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins. Additionally, the Chiefs have Travis Kelce, one of the better tight ends in the NFL, and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is elusive in the passing game. The Chiefs also have great offensive coaching with Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy.
To slow down this Kansas City passing attack, you’re going to need all hands on deck. That includes a strong pass rush, but we’ll talk about that more later. For now, we want to focus on the secondary. The New England secondary, while still solid, hasn’t shown its 2019 level of dominance yet this season. We can’t think of a better time for that dominance to return than this Sunday afternoon.
In terms of specific matchups, the toughest is no doubt Hill. He brings an element of speed to the field that can’t be matched. If past history is any indication, we will likely see a heavy dose of Jonathan Jones covering Hill with safety help over the top. Stephon Gilmore could be used on either Watkins or Kelce. If not Gilmore, Kelce could see many different defenders, similarly to Darren Waller last week. That leaves J.C. Jackson and Jason McCourty to take on the rest of the Chiefs’ wideouts.
Patriots O-Line vs. Chiefs D-Line
To put it bluntly, this is the matchup the Patriots have to win if they want to come out victorious on Sunday. Without David Andrews, it will be on Michael Onwenu, Joe Thuney, and Shaq Mason to slow down superstar Chris Jones. Jones is good against the run but he’s a top-tier interior pass rusher. Through three games he has three and a half sacks to go along with seven quarterback hurries. Add in Derrick Nnadi and Frank Clark and the Chiefs have a formidable defensive front.
Despite some good players on the Chiefs’ defensive front, we still think this is a very winnable matchup for the Patriots in the trenches. The Patriots’ offensive line has been the main catalyst for the number one ranked rushing attack in the NFL ). They’ve also held up very well in pass protection. The big guys up front are the heart of this Patriots’ offense and they’re one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL. We should also note that the Chiefs’ run defense is among the worst in the NFL. Against the Ravens on Monday Night, they allowed 7.5 yards per carry. If you’re looking for a decisive advantage for the Patriots, this is it.
Bill Belichick vs. Andy Reid
Led by Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, the Patriots and Chiefs are two very well-coached teams. Most tend to focus on the players on the field, and rightfully so, but this matchup may be the most important of them all. In our eyes, after Belichick, you could make a debate Reid is the second or third-best coach in the NFL. If not top three, he’s surely top five. The coaching battle is even more intriguing when looking at both coach’s specialties; Belichick as a defensive genius while Reid is an offensive mastermind. The master gameplan Belichick throws at Reid’s powerful offense is going to be a chess match.
Keys to Victory:
Jump out to an Early Lead
One thing you can’t do against this Kansas City Chiefs team is start slow. We saw a perfect example of it on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs jumped on the Ravens early, and Baltimore never was able to recover. It’s even more important for run-first teams like New England and Baltimore to come out firing, otherwise, you’re pushed to play the game in a different way than you’d like.
In a perfect world, the Patriots will jump out fast and make the Chiefs play catchup. Otherwise, you’re forced to become pass-heavy against a good pass rush and an above-average secondary. This takes away the strength of your team, the run game. Plus, the pressure on the defense to get stops will mount as the game goes on when playing from behind.
Use an Offensive Gameplan Similar to that of the 2018-19 AFC Championship Game
There has been a ton of changes since the Patriots’ AFC Championship win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018-19 season, but offensively the gameplan should align similarly to what the Patriots did that game. In the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots ran the ball 48 times for 176 yards. That’s not great efficiency, only 3.6 yards per carry, but what it did do was allow the Patriots to control the time of possession, thus keeping Mahomes off the field. The Patriots had the ball for 43:59 while the Chiefs had possession for only 20:53. That is an insane disparity and one that helped New England win the game.
In addition to the running game, just like in that AFC title game, the Patriots will have to make timely passes downfield. At some point, the defense will load the box or you’ll need a big third-down conversion and that’s where you need your quarterback and your weapons to make plays. The Cam Newton to Julian Edelman connection needs to be alive and well on Sunday.
Make it Tough on Patrick Mahomes
Are the Patriots going to shut down Mahomes on Sunday? No, he’s too good and the weapons are too good to be shut out for an entire game. With that being said, it’s possible to slow him down. It takes an entire team though. The pass rush in particular needs to have a big game, similar to what we saw from the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2. The Chargers only had one sack, but they had a large number of quarterback pressures, which aided them in holding Kansas City to 23 points. Chase Winovich is someone who needs to have a big game Sunday against a solid Chiefs offensive line.
The other approaches to slow down Mahomes are things we’ve already talked about; strong performance from the secondary and a dominating ground game for the Patriots offense. We can’t stress enough the need for the secondary to bring their “A” game on Sunday, but ultimately, keeping Mahomes on the sideline watching the Patriots run wild is the best way to slow him down.
35-31 Patriots over the Chiefs
It’s time for our first BOLD prediction since we’ve begun our weekly Patriots picks. Don’t get it twisted, it’s going to be extremely tough for the Patriots to win this game, but we think they pull it off by limiting big plays and controlling the clock with a strong run game.