In order for the Chiefs to play New England, the Steelers would have to beat the Bengals and the Chiefs defeat the Texans. In order to alleviate any fear about this matchup, it will NOT be like the 41-14 thrashing from last year, unless the Patriots are the team that gets 41. The Chiefs have made a lot of improvements this year with the acquisition of Jeremy Maclin and a strong rookie campaign from 1st round pick Marcus Peters. Offensively, they space the field very well and their defensive front is very tough to navigate. I would consider the Chiefs as a worse case scenario, but there's no reason to think the Patriots can't beat them since the game is at Foxboro.
If there is one area the Patriots defense has the advantage, it's upfront with the Patriots DL against the Chiefs OL. The Chiefs OL can struggle at times at the Patriots DL is still very deep despite taking a few hits in their positional depth. If they can slow down the Chiefs rushing game to put them behind down and distance, they can force Alex Smith to throw well short of the sticks then make the tackle to force punts. Easier said than done, considering how many way the Chiefs offense can attack defenses. The biggest thing the Patriots have to be aware of in the passing game are screens and deep balls to Maclin.
Key Injuries to Monitor
- Chiefs ED Justin Houston
- Chiefs ED Tamba Hali
- Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin
- Patriots OT Sebastian Vollmer
- Patriots WR Julian Edelman
- Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower
- Malcolm Butler vs. Jeremy Maclin
- Ron Parker vs. Rob Gronkowski