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Game Preview: Chiefs at Patriots

The New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, December 17 at 1 PM at Gillette Stadium

2023-GamePreview-wk15-chiefs-16x9

WEEK 15 · Sun 12/17 · 1:00 PM EST

Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs

FOX / WFXT
98.5 FM The Sports Hub
GILLETTE STADIUM

The New England Patriots will begin a two-game stretch against the AFC West when they host Kansas City this week and then travel on Christmas Eve to face the Broncos in Denver. Bill Belichick's 301 career regular season wins currently ranks third among head coaches in NFL history. Andy Reid's 255 career regular season wins ranks fourth all-time. This week will be the first time that two head coaches in the top five in career regular season wins have faced each other since Week 4 in 1990 when Don Shula's Dolphins met Chuck Knoll's Steelers.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs will meet for the first time since the 2020 season when the teams had a game that was moved from a Sunday game to a Monday game due to COVID-19 on Oct. 5, 2020, at Kansas City. The Chiefs took a 26-10 victory in that game.

Kansas City holds a 20-16-3 edge over New England overall, but the Chiefs are 8-11-2 in games played in New England, including 2-4 at Gillette Stadium (2-5 including playoffs).

New England is 2-0 against Kansas City in the postseason after a 27-20 win on Jan. 16, 2016, in a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff Game and then a 37-31 overtime win in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 20, 2019, at Kansas City.

The two teams played twice a year from 1960 until the 1970 AFL-NFL merger as two of the original American Football League teams.

SERIES BREAKDOWN

KANSAS CITY 20, NEW ENGLAND 14 (3 TIES)

Record in New England, 11-8-2

  • Record in Foxborough, 8-4
  • Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 4-2
  • Gillette Stadium, 4-2
  • Record in Boston, 3-4-2

Road Record, 3-12-1

  • Record in Kansas City, 2-10-1
  • Municipal Stadium, 1-4-1
  • Arrowhead Stadium, 1-6
  • Record in Dallas, 1-2

Since 1970 AFL-NFL Merger, 9-11

Largest Margin of Victory: 10 points (11/21/11)

Largest Margin of Defeat: 34 points (12/11/60)

SCOUTING THE MATCHUPS

By Paul Perillo

When the Patriots run - Edge: Chiefs

The Patriots have had a difficult time running the ball with any degree of consistency all season and with Rhamondre Stevenson expected to miss another game with a high ankle sprain don't expect that to change. Ezekiel Elliott provided a boost as a receiver in the win over Pittsburgh but he was bottled up on the ground throughout the game. He barely averaged 3 yards per carry (3.1) and that number was bolstered by a 12-yard run on his final carry of the night. The Chiefs defense has been sporadic when it comes to stopping the run, allowing 114.9 yards per game, which ranks 20th in the league. The average per carry allowed is even worse at 4.6, which is 28th in the league. Defensive tackles Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi are solid but do their best work in passing situations, particularly Jones. However, with middle linebacker Nick Bolton back off injured reserve the Chiefs run defense should get a boost. Bolton joins Leo Chenal and Willie Gay to form an active set of linebackers, and the Patriots struggles on the ground won't likely disappear without Stevenson.

When the Patriots pass - Edge: Chiefs

Kansas City's defensive resurgence in 2023 has been backboned by a secondary that ranks among the best in football statistically. While there aren't many household names on the back end, Kansas City allows just 185 yards per game through the air (6th in the league) and 5.7 yards per pass (4th). Corners Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson and L'Jarius Sneed don't take the ball away often but they have clamped down on opposing passing games all year. Safeties Justin Reid, Mike Edwards and Chamarri Conner are an active group with each recording an interception this season, including Conner's in Sunday's loss to Buffalo. The Patriots exploded for three passing touchdowns in the first half in Pittsburgh but reverted to their sleepy ways in the second half so it will be interesting to see if they can build off the early performance or it was more of an aberration. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Hunter Henry turned in their best efforts of the season with Bailey Zappe pushing the ball downfield more often early in the game. The same kind of game plan against the Chiefs might be more difficult to pull off, but Zappe should get some chances to make plays.

When the Chiefs run - Edge: Patriots

No one has really been able to run the ball against the Patriots this season and the Chiefs don't figure to be the type of team that even tries. Isaiah Pacheco is their leading ball carrier, and the second-year man out of Rutgers runs with power and aggressiveness. He averages 4.4 yards per carry but missed the Buffalo loss with a shoulder injury, leaving the lead back duties to veteran Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who averages just 3.5 yards in a reserve role. If Pacheco returns the Chiefs will give him more opportunities than they would with Edwards-Helaire, but neither figures to generate much against a Patriots front that has been dominant. Anfernee Jennings has been a revelation replacing Matthew Judon in the starting lineup, setting a strong edge while making several plays in the backfield against the run. Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Keion White and Deatrich Wise have all been stout up front, helping the Patriots boast gaudy numbers against the run. New England ranks third in the league, allowing just 88.2 yards per game on the ground and first at 3.2 yards per rush. The Chiefs offense doesn't make a living running the ball in the first place, and against the best run defense in football don't expect that to change.

When the Chiefs pass - Edge: Chiefs

This hasn't been the smoothest of years for Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs MVP quarterback remains at the top of his game, but his supporting cast has let him down time and time again this season. Kansas City's receiving corps leads the league in drops with 33, and Kadarius Toney's inexcusable penalty wiped out a late touchdown and cost the team a chance to win against the Bills. Mahomes' frustration boiled over after the game, and now he travels to Foxborough looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Despite all the struggles he's still completing 67 percent of his passes for 3,398 yards and 23 touchdowns, but does have 11 picks. Travis Kelce remains his lone reliable threat with 80 catches for 896 yards and five touchdowns but rookie Rashee Rice is emerging. He trails only Kelce with 59 receptions for 663 yards and a team-high six TDs. However, the rest of the group has offered little as Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore haven't establish themselves as consistent options. The Patriots secondary has done a decent job of limiting teams in recent weeks but they haven't seen a quarterback as talented as Mahomes. If the Chiefs can hold onto the ball, this will be a tall task.

Special Teams - Edge: Chiefs

The Patriots special teams struggles continue as penalties and sloppy play were prevalent in Pittsburgh. Brenden Schooler picked up his second unnecessary roughness penalty in a month when he hit a Steeler after the play, and Ty Montgomery was beaten badly off the edge, leading to a blocked punt that allowed the Steelers backs in the game. These are the kinds of errors that have dominated the Patriots performance in the kicking game this season. Kansas City has been solid in the kicking game with Harrison Butker a perfect 23-for-23 on field goals and 31-for-31 on PATs. He's also 3-for-3 from beyond 50 yards. Punter Tommy Townsend averages 47.3 yards per punt but the coverage has been a bit leaky at times, leading to an 11.7-yard punt return average for opponents. Richie James returns both punts and kicks for the Chiefs and has been solid but has yet to bust a big play this season. The Patriots return game has been quiet as well, and Montgomery was released last week so there will a different kick returner against KC. Given the play thus far this season, it doesn't figure to make much of a difference.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Table inside Article
2023 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND KANSAS CITY
Record 3-10 8-5
Divisional Standings 4th 1st
Total Yards Gained 3,788 4,697
Total Offense (Rank) 291.4 (28) 361.3 (7)
Rush Offense 101.9 (22) 107.8 (17)
Pass Offense 189.5 (25) 253.5 (6)
Points Per Game 13.0 (32) 22.5 (11)
Total Yards Allowed 3,990 3,899
Total Defense (Rank) 306.9 (8) 299.9 (6)
Rush Defense 88.2 (3) 114.9 (20)
Pass Defense 218.8 (15) 185.0 (6)
Points Allowed / Game 20.9 (14T) 17.5 (3)
Possession Avg. 28:09 30:45
Sacks Allowed / Yards Lost 32/196 18/133
Sacks Made / Yards 26/161 42/250
Total Touchdowns Scored 19 32
Penalties Against / Yards 75/551 83/690
Punts / Avg. 72/47.1 44/47.3
Turnover Differential -9 (30) -7 (27T)
wise-mahomes-wm-adler

CONNECTIONS

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • DL Mike Pennel, 2019
  • OL Joe Thuney, 2016-20
  • Run Game Coord. Brendan Daly, 2014-18

FORMER CHIEFS

  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, 2022

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

COACHING HISTORY

Bill Belichick's 301 career regular season wins currently ranks third among head coaches in NFL history. Andy Reid's 255 career regular season wins ranks fourth all-time. This week will be the first time that two head coaches in the top five in career regular season wins have faced each other since Week 4 in 1990 when Don Shula's Dolphins met Chuck Knoll's Steelers.

PATRIOT TO WATCH

  • Rookie WR Demario Douglas has 36 receptions for 410 yards. Douglas needs 7 receptions to tie WR Deion Branch for the most receptions by a rookie receiver under Bill Belichick. Branch had 43 receptions for 489 yards as a rookie in 2002.
  • Douglas needs 109 receiving yards to match the 519 receiving yards by WR Aaron Dobson for the most receiving yards by a rookie receiver under Belichick. Dobson had 37 receptions for 519 yards as a rookie in 2013.

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE

  • The Patriots have allowed 20 or fewer points in five straight games and will look to extend that mark to six this week against Kansas City. The team record for most consecutive games allowing 20 or few points is 11 from the last three games of the 2018 season through the first eight games of the 2019 season. The team record in a season is nine straight games in 1993.
  • The Patriots enter the week's game with the 8th ranked defense in total yards. The team has finished in the top 10 for defense 10 times during Bill Belichick's reign as head coach of the Patriots.

STOPPING THE RUN

  • The Patriots have held their opponents to under 3.0 yards per carry (ypc) five times in 2023, including in each of the last two games (1.2 ypc vs. the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 3 and 2.9 ypc at Pittsburgh on Dec.7). The team record for most games in a season holding the opponent under 3 yards per carry is eight in 1961 and 1968.
  • The Patriots will look to extend their streak to three straight games holding their opponent under 3 yards per carry this week against Kansas City. The last time the Patriots held their opponent under 3 yards per rush in three straight games was the first three games of the 2019 season – 2.5 ypc vs. Pittsburgh on Sept. 8, 2.8 ypc at Miami on Sept. 15 and 1.8 ypc vs. the New York Jets on Sept. 22. The team record for most consecutive games holding the opponent under 3 yards per carry is seven straight games in 1966.
  • The Patriots enter this week allowing an NFL-best 3.2-yards per carry. If that pace holds, it will be the lowest by a team since the 2014 Detroit Lions when they allowed 3.17 yards per rush. Since the 1970 merger, only 23 teams have held their opponent to 3.2-yards per rush or less. If the Patriots hold, it will be the lowest in team history since the 1970 merger. The current best is 3.4 yards per carry by the 1974 team.
how-to-watch-wk15

BROADCAST INFO

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen locally on WFXT-TV Channel 25. Joe Davis will handle play-by-play duties with Daryl Johnston as the color analyst. Pam Oliver will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Pete Macheska and directed by Artie Kempner.

SATELLITE RADIO: SIRIUS: 821 (NE), 815 (KC) | SiriusXM: 231 (NE), 386 (KC)

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 33 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

For information on how to stream the game please visit our Ways to Watch guide.

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