Patriots vs. Chiefs Preview: Tight End Showdown, Quarterback Standoff - or Just Another Game Against KC?
Posted by: Gronkowski
We don’t need a primetime “Sunday Night Football” spot to know that the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs matchup is the biggest NFL game of the weekend!
The storylines for sports pundits have been endless all week, from recalling how the Chiefs blew out the Pats at Gillette opening game last year (and which team ended up winning the AFC and going to the Super Bowl, again? Hmmm... ) to reminders of the Chiefs 5-0 record.
While the Chiefs are definitely a force to be reckoned with, the Patriots are currently three-point favorites at home.
It’s Patrick Mahomes, in his first year as a starter since Alex Smith was traded, who has really been lighting it up in K.C. The 10th round overall pick in the 2017 draft has 14 TDs and two interceptions for a 112.7 passer rating so far this season. He pulled out a comeback against the Broncos Monday Night Week 4 – in Mile High no less – before taking down the impenetrable Jaguars defense last Sunday.
Despite the praise being heaped on him, Mahomes has the smarts to be respectful of the more experienced guys in the league, most notably Brady.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best quarterback, to ever play. I watched a lot of him in college, Coach Kingsbury played with him at one point [Kliff Kingsbury was a backup QB with the Pats in 2003], so he liked to show me some of the things he did where he was in the pocket,” the Texas Tech alum said. “I’ve definitely taken some things from him but he does it at such a high level. It's something I strived to be like."
Asked what he was doing when Brady first joined the NFL, “I was very young!” admitted 23-year-old Mahomes, who is 18 years younger than the G.O.A.T. “I don’t remember those first few Super Bowls he won … I remember the Snow Bowl and them kicking the field goals into the wind. But not until I got older and seeing the success year in and year out, it is truly special to see all that hard work pay off.”
Of course, after the QBs, the stars to watch Sunday are the TEs - which has turned into a Gronk vs. Travis Kelce standoff in the media. Ironically, the two No. 87s are the same age too.
But these comparisons don’t distract Gronk, who told reporters Wednesday: “I just try to be the best I can be every single week, do my job every single week. The rankings and all that, the comparisons, all that, I'll just leave that up to you guys, whatever you guys say. But I just try to do my best. I think he's a great player and I've just got to worry about what I can do to help out the team,” he said, as transcribed by Patriots.com.
As for if he’d watched Kelce play before … er, yes, obviously. "I've definitely seen him play before. I've seen many other tight ends play before in the league and he's quick, he's shifty, which is very crucial to have. He knows how to get separation and get away from the defender. So he's a great player. I like watching him play too when I get a chance,” Gronk replied.
As ESPN pointed out, the Pats and Chiefs are currently the biggest practitioners of college concepts in the NFL, so expect a lot of shotgun formations, spread fields, option plays and other college concepts.
“We've done it here off and on for a long time," Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "Honestly, I think every game is its own game and every opponent, as you study and prepare to play against the next opponent, you're really looking at the best ways you can to try to move the football and be productive on offense and score. And so, some weeks, that may or may not be the best thing to do.”
The Patriots 38-24 win over the Colts last week further proved that, like the Red Sox, they flourish in October. They’re an NFL-best 58-18 (.763) in Halloween month October since the 2000 season, going 33-6 (.846) at home during that time.
And while the Chiefs took the last two regular-season matchups, the Patriots defeated beat them 27-20 in the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at home.
Of course, everyone seems to be hyped up about this game with one notable exception: The Hoodie.
“It feels like we’re playing Kansas City,” he said dryly when asked if he was excited about it, according to SB Nation. What did you expect him to say???
And his thoughts on wonderkid Mahomes? “There’s been some pretty good quarterbacks now.”
Before you go...