The New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs are no strangers to each other. From their beginnings in the old AFL to both dominating their respective divisions as of late to set up annual meetings, the two clubs have quite a bit of historical and recent familiarity. It is therefore no surprise that their most recent game took place just last season: the Chiefs visited Gillette Stadium in early December and left with a 23-16 victory.
Since then, however, a lot has changed especially in New England. With that said, let’s take a look at how the two team’s lineups look this year compared to 2019.
The following 34 players from the teams’ last meeting on December 8, 2019, are still with the Patriots:
P Jake Bailey, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, CB Justin Bethel, S Terrence Brooks, RB Rex Burkhead, DT Adam Butler, LB Shilique Calhoun, LS Joe Cardona, DT Byron Cowart, OT Korey Cunningham, WR Julian Edelman, OT Jermaine Eluemunor, C James Ferentz, K Nick Folk, CB Stephon Gilmore, DT Lawrence Guy, WR N’Keal Harry, TE Ryan Izzo, CB J.C. Jackson, CB Jonathan Jones, G Shaq Mason, S Devin McCourty, CB Jason McCourty, WR Jakobi Meyers, RB Sony Michel, LB John Simon, WR Matthew Slater, QB Jarrett Stidham, G Joe Thuney, RB James White, CB Joejuan Williams, LB Chase Winovich, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., OT Isaiah Wynn
Offense: The biggest change the Patriots offense has experienced since last December is obviously the departure of quarterback Tom Brady. It is not the only one on this side of the ball worth mentioning, though. The offensive line will see Joe Thuney and Michael Onwenu fill the starting spots at center and left guard, while the wide receiver room is no longer featuring Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett. The tight ends, meanwhile, will look completely different: gone are Benjamin Watson and Matt LaCosse, with Ryan Izzo — an inactive last December — and rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene filling their roles. Oh, and Jakob Johnson will take the field at fullback.
Defense: This year’s offseason has impacted the Patriots defense quite a bit, with some of 2019’s cornerstone players leaving the club: Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung opted out, while Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts left in free agency. On top of it all, Duron Harmon was also traded to Detroit. The rest of the unit looks very much like it did last year, with the cornerback group in particular staying intact after some considerable turnover in the front seven. This turnover led to players such as Chase Winovich and Ja’Whaun Bentley, as well as offseason additions Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger taking on prominent roles.
Special teams: Long-time Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski was released this offseason, but he was on injured reserve the last time the team met the Chiefs anyway. One notable change on special teams over the last 10 months was the departure of Nate Ebner, who signed a free agency deal with the New York Giants this offseason. Cody Davis was brought aboard to help fill his role.
Coaching staff: The Patriots no longer have the services of long-time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, wide receivers/special teams coach Joe Judge and defensive line coach Bret Bielema available. The three men have been replaced, in that order, by O-line coaching duo Carmen Bricillo and Cole Popovich, Mick Lombardi (wide receivers) and Cam Achord (special teams), as well as DeMarcus Covington. New quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch was also added, as was safeties coach and former coaching assistant Brian Belichick.
The following 35 players from the teams’ last meeting on December 8, 2019, are still with the Chiefs:
G Nick Allegretti, K Harrison Butker, DE Frank Clark, CB Rashad Fenton, OT Eric Fisher, WR Mecole Hardman, DE Demone Harris, QB Chad Henne, WR Tyreek Hill, LB Anthony Hitchens, DT Chris Jones, TE Travis Kelce, DT Tanoh Kpassagnon, QB Patrick Mahomes, S Tyrann Mathieu, LB Ben Niemann, DT Derrick Nnadi, LB Dorian O’Daniel, DE Alex Okafor, DT Mike Pennel, WR Byron Pringle, C Austin Reiter, WR Demarcus Robinson, OT Mitchell Schwartz, FB Anthony Sherman, S Daniel Sorensen, RB Darwin Thompson, S Juan Thornhill, CB Charvarius Ward, WR Sammy Watkins, S Armani Watts, LB Damien Wilson, LS James Winchester, G Andrew Wylie, TE Deon Yelder
Offense: The Chiefs’ offense is still among the best in the game, but it did see some departures since last playing the Patriots in 2019. The biggest changes have had an impact on the starting level. Running back LeSean McCoy was not re-signed in free agency, with his role eventually going to first-round rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The offensive line, meanwhile, saw Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opt out of the 2020 season to help fight the Coronavirus pandemic. His right guard spot was filled by free agency acquisition Mike Remmers with the other guard spot now being filled by Kelechi Osemele.
Defense: While the Patriots saw plenty of changes on defense since last December, the Chiefs’ is very much the same as it was back then. The only changes worth talking about are the free agency departures of cornerback Kendall Fuller and linebacker Reggie Ragland, the four-game suspension that is currently being served by starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland, and the draft acquisitions of defensive edge Mike Danna and linebacker Willie Gay. Other than that, and especially at the starting level, the unit has remained mostly intact.
Special teams: While the majority of specialists are still in town, the Chiefs did make a change at punter since last year. Dustin Colquitt was released in late August after having lost his job to undrafted rookie Tommy Townsend.
Coaching staff: With Eric Bieniemy not being offered a head coaching opportunity elsewhere, the Chiefs’ staff is still the same as it was last year. The only minor change came in regards to quarterbacks coach (and former Patriots offseason member) Mike Kafka: the 33-year-old is now also serving as Kansas City’s passing game coordinator.