What to Watch For: Chiefs vs Patriots
Thursday, September 07, 2017
"I mean, the opener's always pretty - you know, everyone's pretty amped up for this one. We've been waiting a long time for this. But yeah, starting the season and I know they've got a lot of events planned, so probably families are coming in. It's a big game and it's an important one. You know, we're playing one of the best teams in the AFC," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference earlier this week.
Kick off is set for Thursday, September 7 at 8:30 p.m. The game can be seen on NBC.
Prior to the game, the Patriots will unveil their fifth Super Bowl championship banner.
Patriots vs. Chiefs
The Patriots and Chiefs will meet for the first time since January of 2016 when the Patriots beat Kansas City 27-20 in a divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
The meeting before that came in 2014 in Kansas City when the Chiefs beat the Patriots 41-14.
"They’re always tough. We’ve always had great battles with them. I don’t think anybody’s – I can think of too many teams that have handled us better than the way they handled us in 2014. That was one game but there have been a lot of great competitive games," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his Wednesday press conference.
The Patriots are 11-6-2 all-time against the Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. Kansas City has not won a game in Foxboro since 1990.
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Related Slideshow: 5 Things to Watch For: Chiefs vs Patriots
With the injury to Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola's value to the Patriots is much higher.
Amendola will see extended time in the slot in this game and throughout the year.
Last season, Amendola had 23 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns. He missed part of the season due to injury.
He is also one of the only Patriots players that have experience returning punts.
"Returning punts is one of my favorite things to do. It is like playing on the highway," Amendola said during his media availability earlier this week.
The Patriots acquired Phillip Dorsett this past weekend, but it is unclear if he will play Thursday night given he has only had three practices with the team.
A major concern along the Patriots offensive line is the left tackle position.
Nate Solder will be back, but he has missed a majority of training camp and did not play in any of the preseason games.
Backing up Solder is LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming.
Fleming saw time at left tackle during the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions. He gave up a sack and a couple of pressures that were near sacks.
The Chiefs will counter Solder with veteran defensive linemen Allen Bailey and Jarvis Jenkins.
The Chiefs defense consists of a dangerous secondary led by Eric Berry and Marcus Peters (pictured).
Last season, the two combined for 10 interceptions with Peters recording six of them.
"He's got very good ball skills. He’s got good anticipation and he’s one of those ball hawking type of players, so he has very good awareness of where the ball is, who he’s covering, where the other receivers are. A lot of times he makes plays on balls that aren’t really thrown to his player," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his Wednesday press conference.
The Patriots offense with Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Hogan, Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and others should be able to overpower the Chiefs secondary.
The Patriots front seven has been hurt by injuries, and the retirement of Rob Ninkovich this preseason.
When it comes to putting pressure on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, the Patriots will rely on Lawrence Guy and Trey Flowers to get to Smith from the ends.
Dont'a Hightower may also see time at the defensive end position.
He saw reps there during training camp.
Pats Running Backs
The Patriots begin a new era at the running back position with Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis and James White.
It may take some time to sort out roles for each player, but it will start with this game.
The Chiefs gave up 121 rushing yards per game last season. This season they return linebackers Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson to help improve on those numbers.
Expect to see the running backs used in the passing game as they will have a mismatch against the linebackers.
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