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Possible Divisional Round Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

Previewing a potential matchup between the Patriots and the Chiefs.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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
Key Coverage Matchups
  • Malcolm Butler vs. Jeremy Maclin
  • Ron Parker vs. Rob Gronkowski
The Chiefs certainly have the talent on both sides of the ball to match up with the Patriots, so it will come down to execution. The Chiefs are very good at limiting mistakes, partially due to Alex Smith not taking a lot of undue risk unless necessary. The Chiefs are banged up in their pass rush, which could help the Patriots struggling offensive line. The biggest key for the Patriots on offense is to turn this into a 7-on-7 game with the quick passing game against the Chiefs should they play off-coverage. If the Patriots can repeatedly get the ball in space to their playmakers and force the Chiefs to make 1-on-1 open field tackles, it's going to be a YAC-fest.