The New England Patriots must do something no team has accomplished in nearly three months: beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs’ 11-game winning streak makes life a little more difficult for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who said he has no blueprint to beat his divisional-round playoff foes.
“Well, the fact that they haven’t lost in so long, it’s not like you can go to a game and say, ‘OK, well, here is how this team defeated them,'” Belichick said. “That just doesn’t exist. We’ve got to figure out a way and there is not a great example on film. There are different things we can point to and different ideas or concepts or a certain part of the game that went well for one of Kansas City’s opponents, but overall nothing really that you could say, ‘OK, this team found a way to do it,’ because they didn’t.
“That certainly wasn’t the case (Saturday). They pretty much dominated that game from the opening kickoff all the way through the fourth quarter.”
The Chiefs beat the Houston Texans 30-0 and forced five turnovers in the wild-card round game, intercepting quarterback Brian Hoyer four times and recovering a fumble. The Chiefs actually got a head start on the Patriots by playing the Texans, since Houston and New England share offensive and defensive concepts. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, offensive coordinator George Godsey and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel all are former Patriots assistants.
“Kansas City is a good football team,” Belichick said. “They’re well coached. I’d say (Saturday)’s game was a typical Kansas City game this season or over the last three-quarters of the season — a lot of turnovers on defense, no turnovers on offense, capitalized on opponents’ mistakes and didn’t make any. They’ve won a lot of games pretty much doing that.”
The Patriots are much more talented than the Texans, however, evidenced by New England’s 27-6 Week 14 win in Houston.
The Patriots’ defense actually seems to match up well with the Chiefs, since they’re adept against the run and can win games without forcing turnovers. The Chiefs and Patriots will be on Jeremy Maclin watch this week, since the Kansas City receiver suffered an ankle injury in the first round of the playoffs.
The Patriots’ offense — especially their line — could have trouble against the Chiefs’ defense, however. The Chiefs have multiple talented pass rushers along their front seven, and the Patriots’ offensive line has struggled in recent weeks.
The key to beating the Chiefs is to avoid turnovers on offense, stop the run and key in on tight end Travis Kelce. If any team can accomplish that, it’s the Patriots.
Thumbnail photo via John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports Images