For the last two years, the battles between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs have always had major implications on the AFC and its playoff race: playoff seeding, first-round byes, and even a ticket to the Super Bowl were on the line when the two teams went up against each other in 2018 and 2019. This year’s contest projects to be more of the same, with the Patriots sitting at 2-1 and the Chiefs at 3-0 entering Week 4.
That said, there is one major difference between the 2020 game and those of years past. While the quarterback battle of Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes — they never shared the field, yes, but they had an enormous impact on their team’s chances — featured two of the best quarterbacks of their era, Sunday will see another passer try to go step-for-step with Mahomes and the high-powered offense he is leading: Cam Newton is now New England’s starting QB.
Newton may not be on Brady’s level, but he is a superstar in his own right. He therefore still has people excited about the new-look Patriots, and the latest Reacts survey conducted by SB Nation illustrates this.
Fans across the nation were asked which game in Week 4 they would be looking forward to the most, and the Patriots’ contest in Kansas City on Sunday ran away with the vote: 64 percent of participants picked the AFC showdown. For comparison, the game’s that finished second and third picked up only 14 percent (Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans, whenever it takes place) and 13.5 percent (Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders).
This result does not necessarily come as a surprise. After all, the Patriots and Chiefs have played some highly entertaining games since Patrick Mahomes took over as Kansas City’s quarterback in 2018: New England won 43-40 during the regular season that year before a 37-31 road win in the AFC Championship; Mahomes and company fought back in 2019 by stealing a 23-16 regular season victory at Gillette Stadium.
The history and the battle of the quarterbacks are not the only intriguing storylines heading into the game, though. There also is the matchup between two of the NFL’s best and most successful head coaches: Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.
Belichick and his defenses have been able to slow the Chiefs down at least partially in the past, while Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy have built a system perfectly suited for its quarterback and his supporting cast. The battle between that offense and New England’s defense — especially the wide receivers versus the secondary — will be equally fascinating to watch as the race for points between Mahomes and Newton.
We are in for a heavyweight fight and fans are understandably looking forward to it.
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