Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots Preview
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
When: Thursday, September 7, 2017, 8:30 PM ET
TV Broadcast: NBC
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Betting on the Kansas City Chiefs (+340)
Patrick Mahomes might have exceeded Kansas City’s expectations this past preseason but the Chiefs are still Alex Smith’s team heading into the new NFL campaign. General manager Brett Veach alluded to that fact as the Chiefs ramped up their preparations for their Week 1 clash with New England. Yes, Mahomes went 34 of 54 (63 percent) for 390 yards (7.2 YPA), four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 109.3 passer rating this past preseason but he still has a long way to go from supplanting Smith as the starting QB. According to Veach, “Smith is so far ahead of what Pat (Mahomes) is. I don’t think it’s even close right now.”
Smith will definitely need that vote of confidence for the season-opener against the Patriots. The Chiefs have lost each of their last six road games against the reigning Super Bowl champions, including a gut-wrenching 27-20 decision in the 2016 AFC Divisional Round playoff. Smith was solid in that clash, completing 29 of 50 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. His performance, however, wasn’t enough to overshadow the brilliance of Tom Brady who threw for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no picks.
The Chiefs will need to do a much better job with their pass rush if they are to upset the Pats this coming Thursday. They didn’t sack Brady at all in that playoff loss last year. Kansas City struggled to cope without linebacker Justin Houston who came out after just eight snaps with a knee injury. The good news for the Chiefs is that Houston’s fully fit right now and the defensive star’s confident that they’ll get to Brady this time around. The pressure is on Houston to replicate his dominant 2014 season, when he piled up 22 sacks for Kansas City.
Betting on the New England Patriots (-430)
New England’s preparations for its title defense took a huge hit this past preseason with wide receiver Julian Edelman and No. 2 returner Cyrus Jones suffering season-ending knee injuries. Edelman has been a vital cog in the Patriots’ recent success, recording at least 92 receptions in three of the last four seasons. Just last year, he set a career high with 1,106 receiving yards. Jones, on the other hand, made seven tackles on defense and special teams while averaging 4.2 yards on 11 punt returns and 22.5 yards on eight kick returns last season.
If there’s one team, however, that can cope with these kind of losses, it’s got to be New England. The Patriots didn’t rest on their laurels following their Super Bowl triumph last February, stacking their championship lineup with even more weapons this past offseason. They broke the bank for the top free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore and stole Brandin Cooks from New Orleans for a late first-round pick. The Pats may have said goodbye to running back LeGarrette Blount in free agency but in return they signed former backups Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. They also re-signed linebacker Dont’a Hightower who was the centerpiece of the New England defense in 2016.
What sets this team apart though, is the long-standing excellence of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They have already won five Super Bowl titles together and are prime favorites at +280 to bring home another Vince Lombardi trophy this coming season. The Pats are 183-52 when Brady’s under center, and that includes a staggering 14 seasons in which the now 40-year-old quarterback led the team to double-digit victories. Can he do it again this season? The Week 1 game against Kansas City can’t come soon enough.
New England (-9) not only wins but also covers the spread against Kansas City.
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