slides: 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.
See What to Watch For in the Slideshow Below
Related Slideshow: What to Watch For: Chiefs vs. Patriots
KC's Jeremy Maclin
Kansas City's star receiver Jeremy Maclin is officially listed as questionable as of Friday, January 15, with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in KC's wild card weekend game against Houston.
If Maclin is playing and is anywhere near 100% that changes things for the Chiefs, obviously, and for the Patriots defense.
Maclin has 88 receptions for 1088 yards and 8 touchdowns this season for Kansas City.
If Maclin doesn't play, the sole focus of the defense goes to KC's tight end Travis Kelce.
Photo courtesy of kcchiefs.com
Last week the Patriots had a bye week. Belichick gave the team the weekend off and Rob Gronkowski went to Florida.
Gronkowski did not appear on the injury report in the last couple of weeks of the season and has not been listed on the injury report with a back injury in over a year, at least.
Gronkowski comes back from Florida and now has knees issues and back issues. According to some reports, he is receiving pain injections, according to some reports, others say he has not received any injections. However, he has missed multiple days of practice this week.
Gronkowski is the second most important player on the offense behind Tom Brady and if he isn't effective in this game, that will obviously be a huge issue. Gronkowski is listed as questionable on the official injury report as of Friday, January 15.
If New England doesn't win and Gronkowski is not effective, maybe that trip to Florida comes more into focus.
The distraction of the week goes to Chandler Jones after he showed up at the Foxboro Police station after what was eventually reported as a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana.
As far as the game is concerned, history says Belichick will punish Jones in some way. Just remember back to Wes Welker against the Jets a few years back (foot fetish comments).
Will he sit him for a series? a quarter? That's really the only question.
If nothing happens to Jones, it will be shocking, again given history.
Julian Edelman is expected to return to the Patriots after being out since week 9 with a broken foot.
Given how the offense has performed over the last couple of weeks, there is a lot of pressure on Edelman to help get the offense back on track.
But how healthy is he? We will find out really quickly.
Edelman had screws put in his foot and has had to re-learn how to cut over the last few weeks.
Edelman has been practicing, but as we know, practice is not a game. Will be interesting to see when he makes his first catch, first cut etc.. .
The outcome of this game will depend on the offensive line and how well they can hold up against players like Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Hali comes in with 6.5 sacks while Justin Houston has 7.5 sacks.
Sebastian Vollmer is expected to come back this week which should help a little bit, but only a little bit.
Tom Brady has been sacked 38 times, 5.7% of drop backs, on the season after only being sacked 21 times last season.
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