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Matchups To Watch

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Patriots S Patrick Chung

In two games lat year, the Patriots held Kelce to just eight total catches for 84 yards. Chung likely draws the assignment against Kelce, who holds an advantage of 6 inches in height and 45 pounds in weight over the defensive back. The Patriots will get creative and try to chip Kelce with a defensive end or linebacker to throw off his timing in the offense. Once Kelce gets off the line, however, he can use his size advantage to box out Chung and provide Patrick Mahomes a reliable target in the middle of the field.

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill vs. Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore

Gilmore ranks as one of the best shutdown corners in the game, while Hill stands among the fastest and most explosive players in the NFL. Gilmore aims to use his length and very solid technique to slow down Hill, but he ultimately lacks the speed and quickness to take Hill out of the game entirely. Hill collected seven receptions for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns in last year's regular-season matchup. The Patriots limited Hill to only a single catch for 42 yards in the AFC Championship game with heel and thigh injuries slowing the speedy wideout. The Pats will likely lend safety help over the top of Gilmore, allowing him to play more physical, underneath coverage. This should create a fun back-and-forth battle between the two, unless Belichick uses Gilmore to neutralize Sammy Watkins and deploys speedy cornerback J.C. Jackson to compete with Hill’s quick-twitch ability.

Patriots LT Isaiah Wynn vs. Chiefs DE Frank Clark

Wynn ha showed struggles this year giving up the edge on speed rushes by not getting deep enough, quickly enough in his pass drop. Clark isn’t the typical edge rusher who wins mainly with speed. He does possess the quickness to threaten with the speed rush, opening up his spin move back inside and his bull rush. That can force Wynn off-balance, leaving him susceptible to a quick move around the corner.

Patriots LG Joe Thuney vs. Chiefs DT Chris Jones

The best way to affect Tom Brady is to push the pocket from the inside back into his lap. With starting center Ted Karras out, the Patriots interior line takes a bit of a hit that undoubtedly impacts both guard positions as well. The Pats need to provide their backup center help, potentially leaving Thuney on an island against one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the league. Thuney shows a weakness of late anchoring against a good bull rush, causing him to get driven back into the quarterback. Jones can routinely find his way into the backfield and into Brady’s nightmares.

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Running Backs vs. Linebackers

Both offense hold an advantage when using running backs to attack the pass coverage of the opposing team’s linebackers. Don’t’a Hightower is the Patriots linebacker most likely to cover the Chiefs’ running backs out of the backfield. However, he lacks the speed to keep on wheel routes and other down field throws. The Chiefs run into the same problem trying to use a linebacker to match the speed and quickness of Patriots' running back James White. Look for the running back position to be a heavy target of both teams in the passing game.

Keys To Victory

Be The Aggressor

The Chiefs need to put their best foot forward early and push the gas pedal all the way to the floor. Kansas City holds a speed advantage at nearly every position on offense, and Mahomes should look deep downfield for big play opportunities. Defensively the Chiefs must turn up the heat on Brady, sending blitzes and giving him different looks to frustrate and pester him. The best bet for the Chiefs to get the win this week is to turn this game into a track meet and force the Patriots offense to play catch up.

Pressure Brady

The Patriots have possibly their worst group of playmakers on offense in Brady’s 19 seasons as a starting NFL quarterback. This forces him to hold the ball longer while subjecting himself to more hits. The Chiefs can line up their defensive ends just a shade wider, providing better angles around the tackles. They can use Jones and either Derrick Nnadi or Khalen Saunders to push the pocket from the inside, giving Brady nowhere to escape or step into his throws. As the pressure on Brady grows, his frustration causes him to lash out at his team, which can’t be a very healthy work environment for the offense. Get to Brady, and watch the house of cards collapse.

Double Team Julian Edelman

With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and misses on Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown, Edelman stands as the only remaining target in the passing game. His reliability, quickness and willingness to run routes over the middle make him a quarterback’s best friend. Houston proved last week, however,  double teaming Edelman makes this offense sputter due to the lack of other weapons in the passing game. White is the only other target who can regularly find separation. Kansas City can take Edelman out of the game plan by bumping him at the line of scrimmage and bracketing him, with one defender taking away the inside breaking route and another guarding against the outside breaking route. 

Play With Confidence

The Patriots rely on making their opponents uncomfortable and capitalizing on mistakes. They attack weaknesses and try to take away the opponent's bread and butter . This should be no secret to the Chiefs from their recent rivalry with New England. Head coach Andy Reid must outwit Belichick with a strong offensive game plan, but ultimately this game will come down to who executes their game plan the best, and which team plays with the most confidence. As the late, great Tom Landry once said, "Confidence comes from knowing what you’re doing. If you are prepared for something, you usually do it. If not, you usually fall flat on your face."