The Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow afternoon (night) in a big AFC matchup between two of the best teams in the conference. The two meetings last season were fantastic right down to the wire contests with the Patriots holding serve at home 43-40 and then beating the Chiefs in overtime in the AFC Championship Game 37-31 at Arrowhead.
While this one should be no less entertaining, we expect a lower-scoring affair this time around. The Patriots defense is much improved this season and the KC pass defense is also a lot better than the team that faced the Patriots in the AFC title game.
So here are our Patriots players to watch in the game tomorrow.
Tom Brady –
Brady’s numbers are way down this year, but most of that has to do with the supporting cast. The Offensive line has been beset by injuries and struggled. The running game has sputtered and the revolving door at wide receiver has made life difficult. Is part of this on himself as well? Of course, but writing him off at this time of year is a fool’s errand.
But here we are. Brady always uses criticism and a big game as motivating factors. And there is plenty of both floating around this week (just listen to Boston sports radio) as the Pats gear up for the Chiefs.
We’re looking for Brady to have laser focus this week and play at his best, in what appears to be a great matchup of excellent quarterbacks as Patrick Mahomes is heating up at just the right time of the year.
Jonathan Jones –
Jones is finally getting his due as one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league this season. He’s having an outstanding season thus far and has been one of the Patriots’ best defenders. He’s invaluable in a secondary that has shined.
This week Jones is tasked with covering one of the fast players in the NFL in Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs offense is built for speed and no one is faster than Hill. If he gets a step at the line of scrimmage he can turn a play into a one-play touchdown drive.
Jones was tasked with primarily covering him during the AFC Championship Game where the Patriots held him to just a single catch. But that catch went for 42 yards. That’s how fast (pardon the pun) things can change.
Rex Burkhead –
Most of us will be watching Sony Michel in the running game and James White in the passing game. However, it is Burkhead who is kind of the “X-Factor” for the Patriots offense out of the backfield. He can do a bit of both and presents the offense with the versatility to run or catch that keeps the defense guessing.
In the AFC title game, Burkhead did just that with 12 carries in the running game and four catches out of the backfield. He scored the Patriots final two touchdowns, both on the ground which sent the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.
Look for Burkhead to see quite a few snaps tomorrow afternoon.
Jamie Collins –
The Patriots brought back Collins this season specifically for games like this. Kansas City has a mobile quarterback that can move and throw the ball down the field. The Patriots defense needs an athletic player who can rush the passer but also give chase he begins to move in the pocket.
Collins, this season is having an excellent overall year, worthy of a Pro Bowl selection. He was one of the players who were under the weather with the flu a week ago and was a bit on the invisible side down in Houston.
With Collins’ athleticism, he can turn a game around on his own, and with the Patriots having to disrupt Mahomes’ passing game before he’s ready to throw the ball, we expect Collins to play a big role in their game plan.
Mohamad Sanu –
Sanu was brought over from the Falcons to help the struggling passing game. In his second game, and pretty much lost in the loss at Baltimore was Sanu’s 10-catch, 81-yard effort that showed some hope that things would be soon on the upswing.
But an ankle injury suffered against the Eagles forced him out of that game and Sanu missed the Dallas game before returning against the Texans. Still not 100 percent he managed just 3 catches for 14 yards in Houston last week.
Now, getting closer to being all the way back, Brady and the offense really need Sanu to bring his game up another notch and become the receiver that they need him to be. Look for Brady to go to Sanu early and often and to get him more involved in the offense this week.
Stephon Gilmore –
Gilmore has had an outstanding season and cemented himself as the best corner in the NFL. He’s often put on an island with the opposing team’s best wide receiver. Left to cover the opponent’s best alone, Jones has excelled. That is the trust that the coaches show in Gilmore as his pass defense has been outstanding all season.
With the Chiefs Hill being tasked with Jones, the Chiefs bigger receiver Sammy Watkins will fall to Gilmore. Watkins had a huge game in January with 114 yards on four catches including a big 54-yarder.
This will be another intriguing matchup to watch as Gilmore and Watkins tangle in what is looking to be a great battle. Another wrinkle in January was that the Patriots rotated Gilmore on Travis Kelce on third downs. We may see more of that this week as they try to take away Mahomes’ favorite target.
Posted Under: 2019 Patriots Regular season
Tags: Bill Belichick Devin McCourty Dont'a Hightower James White Jamie Collins Julian Edelman Kansas City Chiefs Kyle Van Noy New England Patriots Patrick Mahomes Patriots edge rushers Rex Burkhead Sammy Watkins Sony Michel Tom Brady Travis Kelce Tyreek Hill