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Game Matchups: Chandler Jones could be a one-man wrecking crew

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WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN


This would've been a tougher matchup for New England if the Chiefs didn't lose two of their top run-stoppers, linebacker Joe Mays and defensive end Mike DeVito, to injuries. The Chiefs also lost linebacker Derrick Johnson for the year. With little depth at the position, Kansas City will have a hard time sealing the edge against Stevan Ridley. The only one who can stop Ridley is Ridley; if he holds onto the ball, it could be a performance reminiscent of his 100-yard effort against Minnesota. Shane Vereen could be a weapon, too, with his ability to pick up long yardage on catch-and-run plays. The Chiefs allowed more than 5 yards per carry in a loss to Denver and gave up three rushing plays of more than 10 yards in Week 1 against Tennessee. ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

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WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN


Assuming Jamaal Charles is healthy, which is a lofty assumption given the severity of his high ankle sprain in Week 2, this is a difficult matchup for any defense. The Patriots had trouble containing Knowshon Moreno in Week 1 and even had early struggles containing Vikings backup Matt Asiata the following Sunday. The difference with Charles is he's a dual threat capable of catching four or five passes for an additional 75 to 80 yards in addition to cracking the century mark on the ground. Knile Davis has filled in well for Charles and also should test the front seven. The Patriots could use a healthy Jamie Collins, who was limited against the Raiders coming off his thigh injury, in addition to an improved effort from rotating tackles Vince Wilfork and Joe Vellano. This will be their toughest test to date and it's hard to imagine Charles as a non-factor, even at less than 100 percent. ADVANTAGE: CHIEFS

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WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS


The protection up front continues to be a going concern and the Patriots may need to start making some personnel changes. Bryan Stork finished each of the last two games at center and could see his role increase in Kansas City, although it would be a tough task to ask him to make his starting debut at Arrowhead Stadium. One can't help but be concerned with the slow starts of Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola and, to some degree, Rob Gronkowski, but the Kanas City secondary is ripe for the picking with Eric Berry battling an ankle sprain. Outside of Berry, the Chiefs are thin in the defensive backfield and if New England's running game forces Kansas City to bring its free safety closer to the line of scrimmage, it'll leave an opportunistic New England receiver running one-on-one against a cornerback with a banged-up Berry in single high safety coverage. That could result in explosive plays for New England. ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

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WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS


Quarterback Alex Smith is efficient, more of a game-manager than a game-changer, whereas New England's secondary is somewhat enigmatic, though opportunistic when it comes to turnovers. The Patriots intercepted Matt Cassel four times in Week 2 due in large part to Cassel's insistence to force the ball downfield. Smith will utilize his check down receivers - and, if healthy, Charles - in lieu of trying to squeeze the ball into tight coverage. He does have 221-pound receiver Dwayne Bowe and flashy tight end Travis Kelce at his disposal as well. This is where New England's pass rush comes into play. Smith is a mobile quarterback who is capable of making plays with his legs, but his offensive line is in shambles and forces him to do so far too often. A resurgent Chandler Jones could be a one-man wrecking crew if all goes well for New England, and Smith could be running for his life after getting sacked 11 times in the first three weeks. ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

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SPECIAL TEAMS


The importance of the Chandler Jones blocked field goal for a touchdown in Week 2 has overshadowed New England's problems on special teams dating back to the preseason. The unit as a whole needs more consistency, but the good news is kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been excellent both on field goals and kickoffs, limiting the opposing teams' return game. With the loss of Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs don't have an explosive weapon capable of taking one to the house. Davis has his hands full spelling the injured Charles while De'Anthony Thomas is battling hamstring injuries. That could lead to some opportunities for Joe McKnight in the return game. In a game that could come down to both kickers, Gostkowski gets the significant edge over rookie Cairo Santos. ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

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OTHER FACTORS


Though most of it is ancient history, the Patriots have never played well at Arrowhead Stadium dating back to when the series began in 1960. Outside of a 27-19 win 2004, New England has lost six of its last seven in Kansas City. Arrowhead is an old venue, having opened in 1972, but it's also the fifth largest in the NFL, which means crowd noise and snap counts are always a factor. The head coaching matchup between Bill Belichick and Andy Reid is as good as it gets. Belichick is the longest-tenured coach in the NFL and one of only six NFL coaches with 200 career wins while Reid has been to the playoffs 10 times in 16 years as a coach and has 141 career wins. The Chiefs might be more desperate as they look to get back to .500 and that intangible, in addition to a difficult road environment, is tough for any road team to overcome. ADVANTAGE: CHIEFS

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