Patriots Vs. Chiefs Preview
As the New England Patriots prepare to open their 2017 regular season at home on Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, here are some pregame thoughts:
Raising Banner 5- The Pats will start off the evening raising their fifth Super Bowl banner atop Gillette Stadium. The fans will be going wild and the pregame festivities will surely excite Patriots Nation, as they get a last chance to be nostalgic about the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time before a new season starts.
What Will It Look Like- With Julian Edelman's knee injury causing the Pats to play the season without the important veteran, everybody seems to be asking one question; What's their offense going to look like? Thursday will offer up the first taste of what the New England offense might look like without Edelman. With Chris Hogan likely slipping into Edelman's playing time, it will be interesting to see if he also slips into Edelman's same role, playing in the slot. The running backs might also see a larger role in the passing game, as they run similar short routes like Edelman has.
Potential For Dual Backs- With a handful of solid options coming out of the backfield and a void to fill in the offense, it wouldn't be shocking if the Pats employ a number of two back sets throughout the game. Between James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, the Pats have enough big play threats and a good enough mix of skills to help put the Kansas City defense's minds in a pretzel.
It's time to Cooks- After limited action this preseason, it will be interesting to see how big of a role newly acquired receiver Brandin Cooks will play in the team's opener. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke highly of Cooks and his preparation, during his weekly spot on WEEI's Kirk & Callahan morning show earlier this week. Cooks has the potential to be the best deep threat wide out Brady has ever played with. We'll see just how confident Brady is with his newest weapon, come Thursday night.
Pressure On The Edge- While it's usually pressure coming from the edge, the Pats have some pressure on their edge rush heading into opening night. Arguably the the thinnest unit on the team, the defensive end position will be one worth watching Thursday. Though New England has Trey Flowers working off one end as a reliable rusher, there isn't much depth behind him. Look for newly acquired Cassius Marsh and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy to get the first cracks at playing the typical edge position opposite Flowers. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower should also see a number of opportunities to bring the heat to the KC backfield.
Watch Out For the Killer T's- The New England defense will have to be able to stop the Chiefs' top offensive options with names the start with the letter T: Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. If the Pats can get physical with the two, they should be able to quell the offensive power the two can provide an any given time.
Prediction- There is simply no way the Pats lose a home game with this much prep time and on a night where they celebrate another championship banner sailing up the flag pole. With Kansas City's lack of true razzle dazzle skills on offense and the Pats' depth offensively, New England should be able to slip right past the Chiefs.
Pats 34, Chiefs 13