The pressure Houston, Ford, and Jones provide has been the spark the team needed to start creating turnovers and limiting opponents’ passing attacks. From Week 10 to the end of the regular season, the Chiefs racked up 26 sacks (tied for 2nd), 14 takeaways (tied for fifth), and 15 forced fumbles (third). This isn’t the defense that New England faced back in Week 6, when Brady and Co. dropped 43 points on Kansas City in a barn-burning win.
Harrison Butker, Chiefs
One special teams change can alter the course of a game – as we saw last week in the Saints/Eagles game – and with temperatures “hovering” around 5 degrees, the balls won’t be traveling anything like they normally would. And kickoffs/punts will be critical, as well, with Patterson and Julian Edelman both exemplary return men for New England.
“I always felt I could count on Pat,” the manager said. “He was one pitch short for a starter, but he was the perfect long man and a godsend for us. He could throw every day, he was a great athlete for a pitcher, and a joy to have on the team. His fastball was pretty straight and it got caught a couple of times, but you always wanted someone on the mound who wasn’t afraid. And Pat was never afraid in big games.”
The last time the Patriots played there, the dynasty was falling apart and people were calling for Jimmy Garoppolo to start over Brady. That’s not even his worst performance in Kansas City, though. In 2005, he threw four interceptions in a 26-16 November loss. Clearly that game in 2014 was a wake up call for that team, and it went on to win the Super Bowl, but the game still happened, and it’s the last memory we have of the Patriots playing at Arrowhead.
Brady was asked Wednesday about what it feels like to be underdogs several days after saying “everybody thinks we suck and can’t win any games” following a 41-28 divisional-round demolition of the Los Angeles Chargers.
”Doesn’t change much for us,” Brady said. “It shows you, kind of, what people would think of what our chances are. That is about it.
But those occasions are where the Chiefs could’ve punted or kicked a field goal, and might’ve at other points in Reid’s tenure. But he didn’t go conservative, and that approach could serve the Chiefs well again on Sunday against New England.
“I’ll always trust whatever (Reid) decides,” Mahomes said. “If he gives us the chance we’re going to make the most of it.”
What adds to the promise of the matchup is that both teams are pretty much at the height of their powers right now. While, yes, Josh Gordon and Kareem Hunt will both not part of the game for reasons unrelated to football, both clubs are heading into the matchup near full strength: only one player was absent from the two teams’ practices today (Chiefs linebacker Dorian O’Daniel), meaning that they are as close to full health as one can expect at this point of the season.
Ward went undrafted but fielded interest from a handful of teams. The Chiefs weren’t one of them. Ward chose the Dallas Cowboys because they were the closest to home — closest to Tanya. He had a good training camp, but the Cowboys had depth at defensive back and a need for offensive line help. That matched perfectly with the Chiefs, who sent Parker Ehinger to Dallas in a trade on the day of the last preseason game.
Dee Ford, LB
But 2017 is the problem. Ford would probably have a long-term deal right now if he hadn’t ended that season on injured reserve after only appearing in six games. That likely created some caution about a long-term commitment from the Chiefs.
Around the league
“Tell him he can keep talking that s---. And I hope he sees me soon. You feel me? Then we’re gonna have a good little, nice little bowl of gumbo together.”
Fast forward two-plus months, and the Rams are returning to the scene of the crime with a Super Bowl appearance on the line. Peters reignited the broth brawl this weekend when he tweeted and quickly deleted a post that read, “It’s gumbo week.”
“He does a good job of keeping everything fresh,” said punter Thomas Morstead, one of just three players – including star quarterback Drew Brees and tackle Jermon Bushrod – still with the Saints from their championship run.
But the numbers are striking. According to figures provided to the league by Elias, kicking teams recovered only four of 53 onside kicks this season, or 7.5 percent. That’s after they recovered 13 of 60 onside kicks last season, or 21.7 percent, under the previous rules.
Broncos fans need only to look at Scangarello’s work this past season to see the impact of his coaching. A torn ACL limited Jimmy Garoppolo to three games. In his place, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard combined to throw for 3,529 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
“I already said it when I got drafted: I wanted to bring a Super Bowl to Baltimore,” Jackson said. “So, I’m going to try to bring as much as I can. ... I want to bring the Super Bowl here. I want to be the [Tom] Brady [of Baltimore]. I want to be the Brady, bring multiple, if I could.”
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We have learned that both Berry and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif — just back from injured reserve, where he was placed after he broke his fibula in Week 5 — will be getting at least some of their Wednesday practice reps with the first team.
Mahomes — in just his first season as a starter — is the 45th MVP named by the PFWA, and the first member of the Chiefs to receive the MVP or the OPOY. He is the sixth consecutive quarterback to receive the award, following Peyton Manning in 2013, Aaron Rodgers in 2014, Cam Newton in 2015, Matt Ryan in 2016 and Tom Brady in 2017.
The ability of Williams to make opposing tacklers miss could be a could sign for this Sunday, as Hunt, when he was with the Chiefs, was a Patriot killer. Chiefs fans will be hoping Williams can pick up where Hunt left off against New England.
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