The date is September 29, 2014. The Patriots have already lost their opening day divisional game to the Miami Dolphins, when Tom Brady has completed just 51% of his passes for less than 250 yards, on 56 attempts. Many would come away from the Kansas City–New England matchup on this fateful date declaring that the Patriots dynasty was done and Brady was finished.
A Knile Davis-led KC boasted a 17-0 half time lead. They would win the next two quarters as well. Brady threw two interceptions and only managed 159 yards. Andy Reid has many skills.
Apart from looking like the ideal Santa Claus impersonator – he’s a good football coach.
Fast-forward five months: Malcolm Butler picks off Russell Wilson amid controversy that Marshawn Lynch wasn’t tasked with gaining a yard from scrimmage. It’s like an unwritten law that, unless you’re Eli Manning, you cannot deny the Patriots a Super Bowl win.
You’ve got arguably the best running back in football less than two yards from the end zone. He’s just ripped through those exact same players seconds previously, like an Icelandic glacier through an Englishman’s pride. Those New England Patriots somehow won the Super Bowl. The Chiefs were 9-7 and playoff-less.
Here we are, almost three years later. What’s changed?
Only minor things – Reid’s still good to grant your child their Christmas wishes in your local shopping centre. The Patriots still have that winning gene, and Kansas City are the same efficient machine they have been under Reid. The Chiefs got within one score of the Patriots in last year’s playoffs.
But there is a sense that the Chiefs, and more specifically, Andy Reid, are one of the few pairings that know how to deal with New England.
The Patriots have had a fairly turbulent off-season. Some of their veteran pieces in Sebastian Vollmer and Rob Ninkovich are gone. They likely have no draft picks ready to contribute right away. They’ve signed second-string skill position players again. Here’s the thing though: any formula is a winning formula for the New England Patriots.
You could hand Bill Belichick a ready-made Tesco lasagne and he’d produce a Marks and Spencer’s banquet. Mike Gillislee doesn’t inspire, nor does Rex Burkhead. They’ll both be superstars by season’s end. Chris Hogan came out of left-field last year to look like one of the most dangerous weapons in football. Scheme. Scheme. Scheme.
Belichick apparently works for the Sox too https://t.co/VJHIFWzApR
— Matt Schaffer (@MattSchaffer15) September 6, 2017
Kansas City have a young, unheralded back in Kareem Hunt. They’ve got Tyreek Hill who is completely untrackable. I’m not sure anyone’s quick enough to consistently keep him out of a game. Despite the fact that Robert Kraft is probably sending drones over their Missouri practice facility for insight, the Kansas City Chiefs can work the Patriots.
Tom Brady doesn’t have a comfort blanket in Julian Edelman anymore.
They do have Brandin Cooks – who will stretch the field and make it more difficult for teams to add safety help for defending Rob Gronkowski. They’ve got all the right elements to make the offense as prolific as it usually is. It just might take a bit of time for it to get rolling.
The Chiefs run so many different looks and alignments that a Patriots defence who rely on pressure and reads rather than sacks and individual playmaking might struggle for a period in this game.
This should be enough to get Kansas City within a touchdown by game’s end. The Chiefs won twelve games last year. They play in the toughest division in football. It’s no fluke. They don’t have the bottle nor the leadership qualities to win in pressure situations.
This is an environment where nobody knows what to expect, where Alex Smith has a legitimate threat behind him in Patrick Mahomes, and where they’re eight-point underdogs. They typically produce. Expect there to be an Andy Reid-shaped lid on the season’s curtain-raiser.
Spread: Kansas City (+8.5) – (20/21)
Total Points: Under 46.5 – (6/5)
First Touchdown Scorer: Tyreek Hill – (17/2)