When: Monday, Sept 29
Time: 7:30 p.m., CT
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
TV Broadcast: ESPN (national)/KMBC Channel 9 (local), Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, commentators; Lisa Salters field reporter. NFL Red Zone; DirecTV – 206.
Radio Broadcast: Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Laura Okmin (Field reporter) Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, Kendall Gammon, commentators, Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM);
SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 93 (NE), 92 (KC). XM: 88 (WW1), 225 (NE), 226 (KC).
For the first time since the 2005 season, the Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) will host the New England Patriots (2-1) at Arrowhead Monday when the two teams face off on Monday Night Football in front of a national television audience. The question that fans of both of these Jekyll and Hyde teams will ask is, which version of their team will show up to play the opponent? The good one or the bad one?
Both teams began the season with losses that they would like to forget. The Patriots were trounced by the Miami Dolphins 33-20 on the road and the Chiefs laid an egg on the field at Arrowhead (and lost two defensive starters to season-ending injuries) falling to the Tennessee Titans 26-10.
The Pats rebounded in Week 2 by crushing the Minnesota Vikings on the road 30-7, just a couple of days after Vikings superstar running back, Adrian Peterson, was suspended from the team on charges of child abuse. The Chiefs shook off their terrible performance in Week 1 by taking arch-rival Denver to the brink before losing 24-17 in a game where they played markedly better, but still came up short.
Week 3 saw the Pats needing a last-second interception to preserve a 16-9 win over the Oakland Raiders in New England. The Chiefs, meanwhile, crushed the Dolphins, 34-15, in Miami. The same Miami team that humiliated the Pats in Week 1.
In a bit or karmic irony, Oakland and Miami played each other in London, England Sunday with Miami doing the crushing and beating the Raiders 38-14 in a game that wasn’t even that close. So can Chiefs fans take comfort in the fact that the team that beat New England badly in Week 1 and were killed by KC last week demolished the team that took New England to the edge last week?
Well, to be honest … no. Much like commercials you hear for financial investing, past performance is no indication of how a team might play THIS week.
Patriot fans will undoubtedly point out that they’ve been one of the most successful teams of the last 15 years in football and have a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady leading their team. Brady saves his best performances for the bright lights of prime time, posting a 13-5 record on Monday Night Football and has 42 career touchdown passes on Monday nights, tied with Steve Young for third all-time in the NFL behind Brett Favre (69) and Dan Marino (74).
Chiefs fans can counter with the fact that KC holds the historical edge in games played between the two teams 16-13-3 and that includes a 10-3-1 edge in Kansas City. At Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs have a 4-1 records against the Pats. Outside of that one loss at Arrowhead in 2004, the Chiefs have won six out of the last seven games played in KC.
Here are three things Chiefs fans will need to see on the field if the Chiefs are to get their record back to the .500 mark:
Chiefs fans need to make some noise: Forget about that stupid “Loudest Stadium in the NFL” world record that the team insists on trying to get every year now. Chiefs fans should not care that the Seahawks crowd is a couple of decibels louder than them. What they should do is go crazy and channel the excitement in the city surrounding Monday Night Football back at Arrowhead and the return of the Kansas City Royals to the MLB playoffs for the first time in 29 years. Remember that this is the NEW ENGLAND Patriots who play close to Boston, the same city whose Red Sox beat the Royals five out of six games and cost them a chance to win the Central Division. It would be slightly satisfying to take it out on the Boston football team, don’t you think?
Seriously, this is a New England team that is having major problems with their offensive line and protecting Brady. Even veteran teams have trouble with false starts and penalties when Arrowhead is rocking hard. If you are going to the game, take lots of throat drops and scream for 3 hours. Unless you make a living with your voice, you don’t REALLY need to talk much on Tuesday, now do you?
Keep turnovers to zero: Last season, the offense was historically good in not turning the ball over but this season is not the same. The Chiefs cannot afford to lose scoring chances by turning the ball over in the red zone (inside the 20 yard line) and they absolutely cannot give Brady a short field by turning it over deep inside their own territory. If running back Knile Davis, a fumble just waiting to happen, is the featured ball carrier it will be next-to-impossible to have zero turnovers as he will put the ball on the ground at least once during the game. But the key will be quarterback Alex Smith having zero interceptions on the night.
But it would be nice if the defense or special teams got some … : At this point last year, the Chiefs defense and special teams were running roughshod over the entire NFL getting sacks, causing turnovers, and scoring touchdowns. This year? Not so much. In fact, not at all. The defense has forced zero turnovers in three games despite the fact that they have been able to sack the opposing quarterback nine times (tied for 4th in the league). Brady is a statue in the backfield so Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dontari Poe will know exactly where he will be and need to get in his face. Of course, no one outside of Peyton Manning is better than Brady at getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid sacks so the linebackers and secondary is going to have to get up in the faces of the Patriots wide receivers to stop the short passing game.
This ain’t your daddy’s New England offense. They have been out of sync all season – even in their win against Minnesota – and the Chiefs cannot allow Brady to get comfortable on Monday night.
Also, the special teams has to tighten up their coverage in the return game. They have been gouged for big returns in all three games and last week a 74-yard kickoff return by the Dolphins Jarvis Landry could have turned an eventual blowout into a nail-biter.
Prediction: The gut reaction when you think “New England Patriots”, “Tom Brady” and “Bill Belichick” against the Chiefs is picturing the Pats cruising to an early 20-point lead before the Chiefs get their offense going. However, this New England team isn’t the one that was a virtual lock for the AFC Championship game every year. The city is electric right now with everything that is going on and the crowd is just looking for a chance to explode. The Chiefs channel that excitement and take advantage of New England’s offensive problems and get a nice win.
Score: Chiefs 24, Patriots 19.
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