The New England Patriots can't live in the past when it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs because the past doesn't apply. So much has changed since the 41-17 destruction by the Chiefs back in week 4 of 2014. Let's recap.
The Chiefs had extreme homefield advantage
Kansas City set the Guiness world record for loudest stadium as the home team against the Patriots. While New England can't offer the same sort of homefield advantage, the fact that quarterback Tom Brady won't have to maneuver in a stadium with ambient sound comparable to a jet engine in his ear will be a favorable situation.
The Patriots started a pair of rookies on the offensive line against the Chiefs
Yes, New England could very well have two rookies this season as well, if guards Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson get the starting spots, but last season's game against the Chiefs saw Bryan Stork's first career start, as well as Cameron Fleming receiving a start at right guard. Fleming is actually an offensive tackle. The Patriots line, as atrocious as it seems, will be better than it was during the last game.
Rob Gronkowski and the offense was not set
The Patriots All Pro tight end was still working his way back from an ACL injury and only played 62% of the snaps. Brandon LaFell had his first breakout game as a member of the Patriots, while Danny Amendola had not yet emerged as a key factor in the offense.
Vince Wilfork played 82% of the snaps
That just sounds wrong, right? The only member of the defensive line to see more time than Wilfork was IronMan Rob Ninkovich. Chris Jones and Joe Vellano saw time at defensive tackle as well. The Patriots defensive tackle rotation of 2015 is undeniably superior.
The Patriots played a ton of 4-3
In a similar strain of thought, the three linebackers of Jerod Mayo (94%), Dont'a Hightower (87%), and Jamie Collins (81%) played a lot together as the team worked to stop the Chiefs rushing attack. While the game script played a factor with the Chiefs looking to run out the clock, the poor defensive interior meant an increased need for reliable second level tacklers.
Logan Ryan started in the Patriots zone defense
While the team had Darrelle Revis on the roster, New England was not comfortable playing man-coverage until Brandon Browner returned from his suspension. The Patriots happily played a zone defense that Alex Smith was all-to-happy to face and to dink and dunk his way down the field. While Ryan is still in the secondary, head coach Bill Belichick is now comfortable playing man coverage.
It's now 2016
A lot has changed since that point in time. The Patriots finally have a pass rush, Hightower and Collins are better now than they were in 2014, and New England has plenty of playoff experience. It should be a great rematch.