Monday, September 29, 2014

Matchup Mashup: Your Patriots-Chiefs primer


Week 4: New England Patriots (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2), 8:30 p.m.
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Weather: Clear skies, low-70s, zero percent chance of rain at kickoff (accuweather)

The skinny:
After dropping their first game of the season to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots strung together a pair of wins in beating the Minnesota Vikings and squeaking by the Oakland Raiders last week, albeit unimpressively. New England has been shaky up front on offense, and there was some talk this week about whether there would be a personnel adjustment on the interior of the line. Regardless, the team has to do something different, as it's set to face probably its toughest test to date in the trenches. The Chiefs beat up the Dolphins last week in bouncing back from a two-game losing streak to start the season. Kansas City is tops in the AFC at converting on third down on offense, so it will be crucial for the Patriots' defense to stop the run early to set up the Chiefs with longer down-and-distances.

What to watch for (links):
- Will the Patriots' offensive front come out with a different look against the Chiefs?
- What kind of impact with the record-breaking crowd noise at Arrowhead have?
- How does the absence of upstart defensive tackle Sealver Siliga affect the Patriots defensive front's production?
- Will Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith continue to make plays with his legs?
- How effective will Jamaal Charles be with an ailing ankle?

Injury report:
Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was downgraded from probable to out and will miss his third-straight game. The Chiefs will be missing safety Eric Berry and backup tailback Joe McKnight.

Other tidbits from the week:
Smith is a "game manager"... and that formula wins; Tom Brady is "not really a social media king."

Our picks:
Dan: Patriots 27, Chiefs 17
Nick: Patriots 24, Chiefs 14

Head-to-head recent history:
The Patriots blew out the Chiefs, 34-3, in the teams' last meeting in 2011. New England has won five of its last six meetings with Kansas City, though the Chiefs lead the all-time series, 16-13-3.

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