Patriots invest extra prep on recipe to slow Chiefs
Bill Belichick did his patented best to downplay any excitement generated by a matchup his New England Patriots face Sunday night against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough, Mass.
Asked if the AFC showdown had a special feel to it, the Patriots coach deadpanned: “Feels like we’re playing Kansas City.’’
With that, however, Belichick recognised the Chiefs’ potent offensive strengths, focusing on the entire ensemble rather than just the dazzling presence of Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City’s first-year starting quarterback.
“It’s really fortunate that we’ve had a couple of extra days to work on Kansas City,’’ said Belichick, whose Pats (3-2) are coming off a Thursday night victory over Indianapolis. “They give you a lot of problems with their scheme and the way they’re coached.’’
Throw it all together, especially with the way Mahomes can throw it, and the Chiefs (5-0) are capable of burning opponents from just about anywhere on the field.
“You don’t want to give it all to ‘em in one play,’’ Belichick said.
With an extra day to spend on Mahomes, Belichick did come away impressed.
“He can throw it out of the stadium,” he said.
Added safety Devin McCourty: “It’s a team that doesn’t even need to get to second down a lot of times. You’ve got to force them to move the ball (gradually) downfield, but they can do that too.”
The last 10 quarterbacks with 10 career starts or fewer when pitted against New England went 0-10.
Such historic trends seem to have little bearing on Mahomes.
Kansas City became the first visitor at Denver in 56 games to rally from a deficit of 10 points or more and beat the Broncos, doing so in Week 4 on a Monday night. Also, during their torrid start, the Chiefs won in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1986. Last week, Mahomes ended a streak of 15 games in which Jacksonville had not allowed a 300-yard passer.
As good as Mahomes has been getting the Chiefs off to a fast start, his counterpart has a much more extensive list of achievements.
That happens to be Tom Brady, who will oppose a Kansas City defense ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed (461.8).
“He is one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest, to ever play,’’ Mahomes said. “I am going against their defense, but as a team we are going to go in and try to compete.’’
Each team has allowed just six sacks, which is tied for first in the league.
Mahomes had not thrown an interception until last week, when he was picked twice by Jacksonville. The Patriots have an interception in all five games using schemes Belichick readily changes.
“He is the best at that,’’ said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “He mixes and matches.’’
The Chiefs will be without starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who fractured his fibula and suffered torn ankle ligaments in the Jacksonville win. The secondary also remains thin, prompting Kansas City to work out wide receiver Marcus Kemp as an emergency safety, a position where veteran Eric Berry has yet to play because of an injured heel. Linebacker Justin Houston is also doubtful.
Running back Sony Michel (knee) and wide receiver Chris Hogan (thigh) were new additions this week to the Patriots list of nine who were limited in practice on Wednesday.