On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three points on offense and three points on defense to watch in Sunday’s massive game against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Stunts up front
The Patriots are going to present significant challenges up front. Be it the stunts they run or the looks they present by showing pressure, New England creates problems for a Chiefs offensive line that has had its struggles. Coming off a week with inconsistencies against pressure — both with line and quarterback — this is as big a challenge as the Chiefs offense could have in the regular season.
The Patriots play a physical brand of man coverage that has given the Chiefs problems in the past. Bill Belichick will pay additional attention to the likes of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs will need some of their typically less-targeted players like Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson to play their best games of the season against man coverage. They’ve had their struggles to this point, but a big step in New England is a key to winning on Sunday.
Running back rotation
The Chiefs are suddenly in an interesting position with the Williams brothers (not brothers) Damien and Darrel out for Sunday. We’re going to find out if LeSean McCoy’s load management is real and if the Chiefs believe Darwin Thompson has earned more opportunities after showing promise against the Raiders. Spencer Ware is there to help in pass protection and routes out of the backfield. It’s a murky situation. How the Chiefs navigate it will be fascinating.
Julian Edelman and James White
The two most significant threats for the Chiefs defense are a pair of veterans that Tom Brady trusts. Wide receiver Julian Edelman is a bad matchup in the middle of the field. It is very likely we’ll see Tyrann Mathieu working again in the slot over Edelman. Running back James White against any linebacker currently playing on the Chiefs roster will not end well. If the defense can contain these two, they will be on their way to winning the game.
Securing Sony Michel
It has not been the best year for Sony Michel and the running game for the Patriots. The ball-control offense that the Chiefs had no answer for last year isn’t anywhere to be seen at this juncture. New England will be without backup-turned-starting center Ted Karras and will insert their third center, James Ferentz, into an already struggling line. Michel does not look like the same guy the Patriots drafted in the first round in 2018. A struggling run game could get right against the Chiefs defense, but if it doesn’t, it will be good news for Kansas City.
Pressuring Tom Brady
The greatest quarterback of all time (for now) has not been able to handle pressure the same way we’re used to in the past. With the struggling offensive line and receivers he does not trust (outside of Edelman and White), it’s been a tumultuous season for Brady. He’s had his issues with pressure this year, giving up on plays early or letting it affect throws. If the Chiefs can get to Brady, they can repeat some of the success teams like Houston and Baltimore have had against him.
Arrowhead Pride Laboratory
We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on this episode edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.