So it begins, the 2017 NFL Season will kick off in a matter of hours and our very own Kansas City Chiefs get the unenviable task of going to Foxborough, MA to take on the defending champion New England Patriots in the opener. In the Tom Brady era, the Chiefs have a 2-5 overall record against New England. However, that record in New England is 0-4; in fact, the Chiefs haven’t beaten the Patriots in New England since 1990. Factor in that Tom Brady, in the past decade, has gone 50-1 at home against AFC Opponents; and that 1 loss was in week 17 against the Buffalo Bills, in a game where the Patriots had already secured home field advantage and had nothing to play for. Long story short, the Chiefs have an uphill battle tonight like none other. All that being said, I still believe the Chiefs have a punchers chance of pulling off the upset, and here’s how it gets done:
- The Chiefs MUST hit Brady early, and often. When a full strength and healthy Justin Houston last played against New England, he sacked Brady twice, and also had 7 total stops in the game. It has been a while since then, but he is fully healthy for the first time in 2 years and he leads a front seven that MUST get pressure on Brady to win this game. Houston, Ford, Chris Jones, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Allen Baily, and Derrick Johnson will have to be playing at an elite level tonight. If they can get pressure on Brady, the Chiefs have a legitimate shot to win. If they can’t, it’s going to be a long night.
- The Chiefs must establish the run game on offense. Last season, the Chiefs rushing attack was inconsistent at best. In order to help with that they drafted Kareem Hunt out of Toledo. Unfortunately, they lost Spencer Ware for the season, but they still have veterans CJ Spiller* and Charcandrick West to take some pressure off of the rookie who will make his first start tonight. Regardless of who it is toting the rock for Kansas City, the offensive line must be aggressive and mean, opening up holes against a stout front 7 in New England. If the Chiefs can establish the run game early, that will put the time of possession in their favor and limit the time that Tom Brady spends on the field. That gives the Chiefs the advantage and gives them a great chance to pull off the upset. *= CJ Spiller was cut moments after I originally published this, with Spiller out of the picture, Hunt and West are going to have to carry a heavy load tonight. No excuses, got to get it done!
- Finally, beyond pressuring Brady and beyond establishing the run early on offense. The #1 thing the Chiefs must do is play a flawless game of football. They can’t afford to even make penalties in this one. Holding penalties kill drives, offsides and pass interferance penalties sustain drives for the opposition. The most concerning thing I saw in the preseason from the Chiefs, was too many penalties being committed by this team. Play disciplined football and don’t beat yourself. If they can do that, then they’re going to be in the game. Obviously, you also can’t commit any turnovers, but the Chiefs usually do a pretty good job of keeping control of the ball. Play mistake free football, and that will ultimately give you a chance.
Now, the question becomes, do I really believe the Chiefs will do all of those things tonight? I’m going to have to say, no I don’t. I think either the Chiefs are going to struggle to get pressure on Brady or they’re not going to get the run game established. I think they can, and probably will, play pretty mistake free football tonight, but I think at the end of the day, they’ll fail in one of the other 2 areas. Because of that, I don’t think they will pull off the upset. I’d love to pick us to win this one, I really would. I just can’t do it. My final score prediction is New England 27 Kansas City 24. It’s going to be an incredibly competitive game that comes down to the final minutes regardless in my opinion; and while I won’t predict us to win, I still think there’s a chance we will. No matter how you slice it, it’s a wonderful day because Football Season is back and the Chiefs are on the Radio again! Tonight, the pregame starts at 6:00 with Kickoff to follow at 7:25. Listen right here, on Topeka’s Rock Leader V100!