Let’s make this clear: No one is crazy for believing the Kansas City Chiefs are better than the New England Patriots. Despite losing 43-40 on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, the Chiefs still could make a convincing case they’re the top dog in the AFC.
But please, if you’re going to say Kansas City is better than New England, just try to make some sense.
Cris Carter failed in this regard Monday morning on FS1’s “First Things First.”
Here’s the Hall of Famer’s rationale:
“If Kansas City has one pass rusher, they win that game,” Carter said. “And if (Chiefs safety) Eric Berry can get back healthy … to me, Kansas City is still the best team in the AFC.
” … New England can’t play better: no accepted penalties, one turnover, big lead, playing at home. Kansas City still has a one-game lead (for home-field advantage). Man, Kansas City, to me, I believe is going to be 14-2.”
To recap: Carter is saying that if linebacker Justin Houston, who is nursing a hamstring injury, was available Sunday night, the Chiefs would have won. He also believes the eventual return of Berry will cure Kansas City’s woeful defense. Furthermore, he apparently believes Sunday night’s version of the Patriots was their best and final form.
First of all, Houston is a great player, and he definitely would’ve helped a defense that never forced the Patriots to punt. But since when has one edge rusher made that much of a difference against Tom Brady? Didn’t an out-of-sync, Julian Edelman- and Josh Gordon-less offense put up 27 points against J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and the Houston Texans in Week 1? New England’s issues lie on defense; its offense has proven time and time again it can score at will against the NFL’s top defenses.
Berry, a three-time All-Pro, is among the best safeties in the league when healthy. But the 29-year-old missed virtually all of last season with a torn Achilles and still hasn’t played in a game this season. If you expect Berry to return with the same explosiveness and effectiveness he had before the injury, then good luck. This is an Achilles injury we’re talking about; not a calf strain.
Carter’s most egregious point, however, is that the Patriots “can’t play any better” than they did Sunday night. Has this guy watched New England at all over the last, oh, 18 years?
The Patriots have proven so many times that the team they are in September and October bears little resemblance to the one they become in December and January. Most teams fade as the season progress; New England improves. The evidence is overwhelming.
Will the Patriots’ defense be markedly better than the version that got torched by the Chiefs? Probably not. But you can bet plays like Tyreek Hill’s 75-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter will not happen.
The Chiefs, too, could improve as the season progresses. But Andy Reid’s team actually has done the exact opposite in recent years.
Ultimately, it would be wise to not pull too much from Sunday night’s classic. Both teams are really, really good and probably the top contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
To use the game as evidence to anything more is premature and, in Carter’s case, just plain foolish.