Tonight, the New England Patriots will face their biggest challenge of the year when the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs come to town. Combining an explosive offensive attack with an opportunistic yet at times inconsistent defense, the Chiefs are sitting at 5-0 heading into their game against the 3-2 Patriots – a contest that will likely have an enormous impact on the AFC’s playoff picture even this early during the season.
Naturally, New England needs to bring its A-game as the Chiefs pose problems on both sides of the football. In the latest episode of the Belestrator, head coach Bill Belichick illustrated just how those problems look like: Belichick and quarterback-turned-commentator took a look at Kansas City’s pass rush, and the team’s explosive passing game led by second-year passer Patrick Mahomes:
"He can ruin a game."— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 12, 2018
Bill Belichick breaks down the Chiefs defense, Mahomes and Hill on the Belestrator. pic.twitter.com/mOBW7c6PdX
Belichick and Zolak start by taking a look at Kansas City’s defense, led by linemen Chris Jones and Dee Ford. “[Jones] is long, quick, powerful, he can make plays with his power, with his quickness, with his pursuit; he bats balls, he’s a good pass rusher,” Belichick said about the Chiefs’ starting defensive tackle who is ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 22nd best player at his position this year.
“He can ruin the game and so can Dee Ford,” Belichick continued. “This guy’s as fast as a pass rusher as we’ll see all year. He’s got good quickness.” Ford currently leads the Chiefs with 4.0 sacks and with fellow linebacker Justin Houston likely out tonight will play an even more important role when it comes to stopping Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense. “Those two guys cause a lot of negative plays for the Chiefs defense.”
While Jones and Ford are without a doubt outstanding players, the main reason for Kansas City’s success so far in 2018 is the team’s offense led by MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes and explosive pass catchers Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. New England needs to find a way to slow the two talented receivers down today: the duo has combined for 55 catches this season, for 832 yards and six scores.
“We’re dealing with a strong-armed quarterback, and a receiver with explosive speed that can run through any type of defense,” Belichick said about the Mahomes-Hill connection, which hooked up 27 times so far this year. “[Hill] can kill you on the short plays just as quickly as he can kill you on the long ones.”
Kelce cannot be forgotten either, though. Arguably the NFL’s second best tight end behind the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, the 29-year old leads Kansas City with 28 catches. “Kelce [is] really a go-to guy for them anywhere on the field but particularly in the red area and near the goal line,” said Belichick about him. “This guy’s a really good football player, especially in the red area, third down, and goal-line situations.”
Belichick’s breakdown further confirms one thing: New England will have its hands full today.