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Patriots-Chiefs: Observations from New England’s 42-27 loss to Kansas City

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The Patriots defense decided not to show up.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots lost 42-27 to the Kansas City Chiefs in a game of poor estimations. Let’s run through them.

Underestimated: the loss of Julian Edelman

The Patriots offense came out hot, reaching inside of the Chiefs 10-yard line on their first four drives. Tom Brady looked unstoppable, while Danny Amendola, Mike Gillislee, and James White took advantage of all the attention drawn by Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan.

The rest of the game was a different story. Amendola left with a head injury, but the offense stalled even before that point. The run game vanished and Tom Brady was throwing uncatchable deep ball into tight coverage after uncatchable deep ball into tight coverage.

The Patriots should have kept White more involved during the game because he helped move the chains, but someone else needs to step up on the offense. Going 3/6 in the red zone is inexcusable, especially when the Chiefs were penalized 15 times for 139 yards.

The Patriots lost an ugly game to the Chiefs. Let's break it down.

Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Thursday, September 7, 2017

Overestimated: the entire Patriots defense

The Chiefs had two drives of 90+ yards. They had scores of 75- and 78-yards. According to the broadcast, the Patriots defense allowed the most yards and the most points given up under Bill Belichick. The Patriots did a good job of limiting TE Travis Kelce, but they forgot to cover the other players.

Tyreek Hill still had a solid day with 138 yards from scrimmage, including his 75-yard touchdown (Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty had a miscommunication). He left the game with an injury.

Rookie RB Kareem Hunt exposed the New England defense as slow, weak, poor tacklers, that were blown back four or five yards after contact, or simply brushed off. Hunt racked up 246 yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns in his NFL debut. The Patriots linebackers were not up to the task, nor were the defensive line. The Chiefs offense had their way in the trench.

Underestimated: Alex Smith’s willingness to throw deep

Smith and the Chiefs ranked last in the league in passes 15+ yards down the field in 2016. He completed three of seven passes (an eighth resulted in defensive pass interference in the end zone on Malcolm Butler) against the Patriots, a much greater deep ball frequency than in years past, and the completions were big.

Smith hit Tyreek Hill on a 75-yard touchdown, Kareem Hunt on a 78-yard touchdown, and Chris Conley on a 25-yard pass to get into the red zone. Last year, the Patriots did not allow a single score longer than 40 yards. They gave up two on Thursday.

Overestimated: Chris Hogan’s impact on the Patriots offense

Anyone who thought that Chris Hogan would have more rushing attempts than receptions, please raise your hand. Hogan had 3 carries for 17 yards and 1 reception for 8 yards. It was a disappearing act for the player most expected to replace Edelman in the Patriots offense.

Hogan was erased by Marcus Peters for much of the night as the Chiefs asked their All Pro cornerback to shadow Hogan and force Brady to rely on his new receivers. The strategy paid off as Brady and the Patriots offense looked terrible in the second half.

Underestimated: the number of serious injuries this early in the year

Julian Edelman is done for the year. Malcolm Mitchell is on the injured reserve. Danny Amendola suffered a concussion and was removed from the game. Dont’a Hightower suffered a knee injury. Shea McClellin is on the injured reserve.

These players all play just two positions, which means that the New England offense is super thin at receiver and the defense is lacking ability on the edge.

Without the receivers, Brady has to rely on Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett. They’re all great deep threats, but they provide much more value when there’s a player in the slot able to take advantage of their clearing routes. Hogan was unable to do that on Thursday and someone needs to emerge. Soon.

And on defense, the Patriots were already thin at linebacker. Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and David Harris lack the versatility and upside of Hightower and all three can be isolated and beaten by a savvy offensive coordinator. Hopefully Hightower’s injury isn’t serious.