March 4, 2024

Patriots

The Chiefs is likely to be reeling, however they’ve nonetheless acquired loads of expertise.

Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes want to finish their two-game shedding streak once they tackle the Patriots on Sunday. Stephen Maturen/Getty Pictures

The final time the Patriots hosted the Chiefs in Foxborough, each groups have been the category of the AFC. Lots has modified in New England and across the league for the reason that 2019 matchup, however one factor has remained the identical: The Chiefs are nonetheless among the many league’s elite.

Kanas Metropolis has gained two Tremendous Bowls since that recreation in December 2019, with Patrick Mahomes capturing his first Lombardi Trophy two months later and incomes his second this previous season. Due to that, the Chiefs are nonetheless considered as one of many groups to beat regardless that they’re 8-5 and have misplaced two in a row as they haven’t seemed just like the Tremendous Bowl model of themselves as of late.

As Mahomes and crew look to proper the ship in opposition to the 3-10 Patriots at Gillette Stadium, listed here are six Chiefs gamers to observe in Sunday’s matchup.

Patrick Mahomes

Clearly, the two-time MVP is a participant to maintain tabs on throughout Sunday’s recreation. However the often spectacular quarterback hasn’t put up the manufacturing we’ve been used to seeing him up up to now in 2023.

Mahomes’s 261.4 passing yards per recreation, 4.7 landing proportion, 2.3 interception proportion, and 93.3 passer score are all on monitor to be the worst marks of his profession. In fact, his receivers haven’t been as much as par this season and are most likely the foundation of Mahomes’s career-low manufacturing. These numbers would even be thought of good stats for a lot of different quarterbacks within the league.

Nonetheless, Mahomes hasn’t been in a position to overcome the underwhelming expertise round him to make the Chiefs’ offense. They’re averaging simply 22.5 factors per recreation this season, scoring fewer than 20 factors in three of their final 4 video games.

Sunday’s recreation doesn’t essentially look to be too promising for Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense to show round their struggles as of late, both. The Patriots have allowed fewer than 200 passing yards in three of their final 4 video games, with Justin Herbert’s 212-yard day in Week 13 being the one one to interrupt that mark currently.

By way of how properly he’s performed in opposition to the Patriots in his profession, Mahomes has performed pretty properly. If you happen to recall, he put up sturdy numbers in each begins he made in opposition to them in his first season because the Chiefs’ high quarterback, throwing for 647 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions in opposition to the Patriots that 12 months.

The final two conferences haven’t been as spectacular for Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense, although. Mahomes threw for a landing and an interception within the 2019 matchup in opposition to New England, struggling to complete off drives because it pulled off a 23-16 win. A 12 months later, Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense struggled once more in opposition to the Patriots. They solely mustered six factors by means of almost three quarters earlier than a Brian Hoyer fumble helped flip the sport round as Kansas Metropolis’s offense scored 19 of its 26 factors within the win.

Clearly, Mahomes remains to be arguably the league’s finest quarterback. Nevertheless it seems the Patriots are attending to play him at a superb time.

Travis Kelce

In fact, the celebrity tight finish is the opposite participant you may’t ignore when discussing the Chiefs.

Amid all the struggles by the Chiefs’ pass-catchers this season, Kelce has nonetheless been fairly dependable. He has 80 receptions for 896 yards and 5 touchdowns this season, placing him on tempo to have top-of-the-line seasons of his 11-year profession.

Kelce hasn’t essentially struggled as of late like the remainder of the Chiefs’ offense, both. He has 23 receptions for 299 yards going again to their bye week, however he additionally solely has one landing in Kanas Metropolis’s final six video games.

The Patriots have been in a position to maintain Kelce in test (at the very least comparatively talking) since Mahomes turned their beginning quarterback in 2018. Over his final 4 video games in opposition to New England, Kelce’s solely recorded 15 receptions for 220 yards and a landing, including a speeding rating within the 2019 regular-season matchup between the 2 groups.

Kelce has sparked headlines for different causes exterior of soccer over the previous couple of months as his relationship with Taylor Swift has gone public. For these of you questioning, Kelce has performed fairly properly when she’s been in attendance this season. He’s recorded 44 receptions for 596 yards and two touchdowns within the six video games Swfit’s attended because the Chiefs have gone 4-2 in these video games.

It’s unknown nonetheless if Swift shall be at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

Rashee Rice

If there may be anybody that’s emerged exterior of Kelce among the many Chiefs ability place gamers who will play on Sunday (working again Isiah Pacheco is out), it’s the rookie receiver.

Rice has progressed because the season’s gone alongside, recording at the very least 60 receiving yards in every of the final three video games. He truly had an eight-catch, 107-yard day in opposition to the Raiders in Week 12 earlier than having a seven-catch, 72-yard day in opposition to the Payments final week, recording a landing in every recreation.

As talked about earlier, opposing quarterbacks haven’t been capable of finding a lot success in opposition to the Patriots by means of the air currently. So, naturally, receivers haven’t been in a position to have massive days both as New England has largely been in a position to play in opposition to high receivers exterior of a back-to-back stretch in late October, early November when Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Terry McLaurin all had notable recreation in opposition to the Patriots.

An enormous motive for the Patriots protection’s success in opposition to the move as of late is Jonathan Jones. After coping with an ankle harm for a lot of the early portion of the season, Jones has performed like he did for a lot of final season, permitting 21 receptions on 34 targets for simply 179 yards and a landing within the seven video games, per Professional Soccer Focus.

If Jones is on Rice on Sunday, it’d be a superb take a look at for both sides to see simply how properly every participant may be.

Chris Jones

The highest-tier defensive deal with nonetheless appears to be like each bit the half this season regardless of lacking all of coaching camp and the season opener on account of a contract holdout.

Jones has 7.5 sacks and 24 mixed tackles this season, including 51 pressures and 16 run stops. However he may truly be peaking on the proper time for Kansas Metropolis, recording 14 pressures within the final two video games regardless that he didn’t have a sack.

The inside of the Patriots’ offensive line has been shaky by means of a lot of the season, however gamers like David Andrews and Cole Unusual have gotten higher because the season’s gone alongside. Nonetheless, Andrews, Unusual, and Sidy Sow have mixed to permit 5 sacks and 12 pressures over the Patriots’ final three video games, per PFF. So, it hasn’t been too nice, both.

Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed

The Chiefs don’t have the league’s sixth-best move protection with simply an elite inside move rusher. Additionally they have a pair of standouts of their secondary.

McDuffie, particularly, has emerged as one of many recreation’s high corners this season after the Chiefs drafted him in 2022, buying and selling with the Patriots with a view to choose him. The second-year nook has allowed 47 receptions on 70 targets for 494 yards and two touchdowns this season. Whereas he’s but to file an interception, McDuffie truly leads the league in compelled fumbles, stripping the ball out 5 occasions this season.

Sneed, in the meantime, has largely carried out properly on the skin this season. He’s given up 35 receptions on 67 targets for 348 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns allowed this season. He’s truly coming off a stellar efficiency in opposition to the Payments, permitting only one reception on seven targets with the lone seize solely going for a yard.

That’s clearly not the sort of information the Patriots need to hear as they’re already coping with a battered receivers room. However Demario Douglas is anticipated to return on Sunday and DeVante Parker might play as properly. He’s listed as questionable after lacking final week’s recreation in opposition to the Steelers.