The Patriots offense will face a tough test this weekend in Kansas City, but this isn't the same offense that the Chiefs are used to and perhaps that gives New England a bit of an advantage. At the center of the new 2020 Pats attack is quarterback Cam Newton, who has done an admirable job through three games and could now hold the keys to knocking off the defending champs.
Complemented by a stable of running backs who have helped lead the Pats to the best rushing offense in the NFL, Newton will look to build on what the offense has established in the early going. A successful ground game can help them control the clock and limit the chances of an explosive offense like the Chiefs, but Newton stressed that it's about more than just trying to milk the clock.
"We just gotta play Patriot football, simple," said Newton on Thursday afternoon via WebEx. "If we do that - control the line of scrimmage, stick to the keys to win. We really can't just focus on something that we cannot control.
"We know we have to play complementary football throughout this game. I believe we're stacking practices upon practices and that gives us enough confidence going into the game on Sunday."
Confidence is one thing, but translating it to the field will be another. The Patriots know they must be prepared to counter the prolific Patrick Mahomes, who drew praise from Newton.
"He's changing the game," said Newton of Mahomes. "He's shined a light on the new wave of quarterbacks. It's just fun to watch. He has a lot of merit to what he does, it's not like he's just back there and it's an arcade game. Sometimes it looks like it, but he knows exactly what he's doing and how he's manipulating the defense."
As Mahomes continues to grow in his mastery of the Chiefs offense, Newton is on his own journey, learning the Patriots offense with the help of Josh McDaniels, who Newton praised for his attention to details.
"Every day is a new thing that I need to get better at," said Newton. "I'm just trying to command this offense as much as I possibly can."
It's not just getting the Patriots offense down for Newton, it's about gaining the confidence of his teammates and coaches that he knows what to do and can execute.
Through the three games, Newton has shown plenty of potential but now, against Kansas City, he'll need his best effort yet to put everything he's been learning over the last two months on full display.
If he does that, the Patriots just might just pull off the upset.
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots were in shorts and shells for Thursday's practice session with Cody Davis once again absent. The team also made a practice squad swap, as receiver Mason Kinsey was released to make room for new offensive lineman Jordan Roos.
Shaq Mason was the lone new addition to Thursday's injury report.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
DB Cody Davis (rib)
DL Adam Butler (shoulder)
WR Julian Edelman (knee)
G Shaq Mason (calf)
RB Sony Michel (quad)
T Isaiah Wynn (calf)
Chris Jones is the only member of the Chiefs who had limited availability on Thursday with a groin injury.
WebEx Quotes of Note
Brandon Copeland on the Patriots preparation:
"I think we prepare the same, I think that's why this franchise has been successful. You don't overlook any opponent, you don't overlook any detail, you prepare week in and week out for a challenge and I think that's why the organization has been successful, some organizations don't necessarily do that... I think we prepare the same way week in and week out. You see great guys, great leaders, great teammates, you see extra work they were doing last week, they're doing it this week the same extra cardio that they're doing in the morning last week, they're doing this week.
Lawrence Guy on the keys to stopping the run with a lighter front seven:
"Leverage. I got told a long time ago and I think that we all abide by, if you have good technique and great leverage it doesn't matter how big you are, you can defeat a blocker. We're confident in the grit of our players understanding if they do throw a run in there or draw in there, we can survive that down."
Joe Thuney on the Patriots running backs:
"I can't say enough good things about our running back room. Each one is great in their own respective ways, half the time I'm not even sure who's back there. But they make great cuts, have good vision, play well off of our blocks. We always try to finish our blocks and let them make cuts and make plays."