On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the New England Patriots According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored to win. We welcome Taylor Kyles of Pats Pulpit — our sister SBNation site covering the Patriots — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
Rumour has it Bill Belichick is on his way out. Do you agree? Or would you prefer an arrangement that allows him to stay?
I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case. Bill Belichick the general manager has failed to build an NFL-caliber offense since Tom Brady’s departure, which is especially egregious since Mac Jones was known as someone who couldn’t carry an offense. Special teams have also been a glaring weak spot for the past couple of seasons — despite New England having several special teamers on its roster. Belichick the coach is still arguably the best defensive coach in the league, as evidenced by the Patriots’ elite run defense and pass coverage being respectable after losing Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez. I wish he could return without general manager responsibilities and an overhauled offensive staff, which has failed to develop players for years, Unfortunately, I can’t see Belichick accepting that deal, so moving on is probably best for both sides.
The Patriots defense has been pretty good this year. Is it scheme, coaching or talent? Who’s been the standout so far?
Jabrill Peppers praised Bill Belichick a couple of weeks ago for how well he prepared the team is each week — and you can tell how well-coached the defense is by how they take away route concepts and get depth in zones. It also helps that several players are having breakout seasons. Christian Barmore has emerged as a game-wrecking every-down defensive tackle. Safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Jahlani Tavai have been turnover magnets and exceeded expectations in expanded roles. Edge defender Anfernee Jennings is establishing himself as an elite run defender after seeing an uptick in snaps when Judon went down. Davon Godxhaux has been one of the league’s best nose tackles and is a major reason for the run defense’s success. Cornerback Jonathan Jones continues to be a tough and reliable leader in the secondary. Kyle Dugger’s had a relatively quiet season — but lately, he’s made more of an impact near the line of scrimmage. In a season where the defense could’ve given up weeks ago, they’ve shown incredible resiliency and toughness.
How do you think the Patriots will address the quarterback situation in the offseason?
I think they’ll sign a proven backup like Jacoby Brissett or Josh Dobbs, then draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with their top pick (they currently sit at #2 overall). Mac Jones will be in the last year of his rookie deal, but I can’t see him staying on the roster if two others are brought in to replace him. My guess is he stays through training camp and preseason for a chance to boost his stock, then gets traded for a Day 3 pick.
What do you expect the Patriots' offense to do to beat the Chiefs' defense?
Offensively, I expect them to exploit the Chiefs’ run defense and test their secondary deep, as Bailey Zappe hasn’t been shy about going deep. Zappe’s also identified blitzes well — particularly from the slot — but the pass protection has struggled to pick up blitzes and line games.
Defensively, I think they’ll play as much man coverage as possible and force Mahomes’ receivers to beat them. This will put a lot of pressure on their run defense — especially against a stout interior like Kansas City’s — but Godchaux, Barmore, and Lawrence Guy have been tough to move and Ja’Whaun Bentley is a hammer at middle linebacker. I’d also expect New England to attack Trey Smith with blitzes and stunts.
The Chiefs are a one-score favorite on DraftKings. Can the Patriots overcome and win? Do New England fans want to win or do they want to tank?
The Patriots’ offense has been tough to watch for the most part, but getting their most electric player back in Demario Douglas could lead to more explosives than most might expect. Zappe has also had more flashes with each game at starter, though he’s also had his share of turnover-worthy plays. If the offense protects the football, they have a chance.
New England’s defense is a tough group that hasn’t allowed 20 points in over a month, but they haven’t faced anything close to a trio like Mahomes, Kelce, and Reid. This will be their biggest test of the season, but I think they’ve got the scheme and talent to keep things close. Belichick is also one of the best at slowing down Mahomes, who’s been held without a touchdown in one half of every career game against New England.
I don’t think they’ll win — and few Patriots fans would want that since it could jeopardize their top-2 pick. But a strong defense (and an inoffensive offensive performance) could hand the Chiefs their fifth loss in seven games.
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.