The Patriots have played three games this season and in each one faced a different level of opponent. The Dolphins are a below average team, the Seahawks are a great team, and the Raiders are a good team. New England beat the below average team and the good team, however, they came one yard short of beating the great team. So far that shows that the Patriots are a really good team who is on the cusp of being a great team. In order to be considered a great team, though, the Patriots will have to beat one. They will get their next chance on Sunday.
Kansas City is fresh of a 34-20 win at Baltimore on Monday night, a game in which Patrick Mahomes was sparkling, accounting for five touchdowns. The Chiefs are better than they were last year with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and an improved defense. Andy Reid remains an offensive wizard and the Chiefs look like they have the potential to repeat as champions.
If the Patriots are to beat the Chiefs, things will have to be reminiscent of the AFC Championship Game in January of 2019, especially the first three quarters. In that game, New England depended on a stifling defense and methodical offensive attack to take a 17-7 through three quarters. After that, both offenses exploded and New England eventually won 37-31. The Patriots have shown that they can control the pace of a game with their rushing attack over the first three weeks as well as opening it up when necessary. But the Chiefs are a different animal than the other offenses Bill Belichick & Co. have faced this season. If New England gets down by multiple scores, it will extremely difficult for them to hold the Chiefs down while mounting a comeback.
With that in mind, it is important that the Patriots play mistake free football and come out with better early drives than they have so far this season. The New England offense has played well overall and put up great numbers, but they have struggled to score early in their games thus far. Cam Newton will have to match his effort from week two against Seattle and the New England running backs and offensive line will have to turn in a performance similar to their Week 3 game against Las Vegas.
Defensively, the Patriots will have the Herculean task of slowing down Kansas City. They may decide to put J.C. Jackson or Jonathan Jones on Tyreek Hill with a safety over the top and have Stephon Gilmore take away another receiver as they did in the ACF Championship Game or try to take away Pro Bowl Tight End Travis Kelce. Additionally, their defensive line will need to have a strong day. The tough running of Edwards-Helaire is something the Patriots will have to contain. New England may decide to play extra defensive backs to make Kansas City choose to run the ball more, which will put a heavy amount of pressure on the Patriots run defenders to hold their own.
The schedule makers did the Patriots no favors to start the season with New England having to travel to Seattle and Kansas City in September. The Patriots showed against Seattle that they can compete with the best teams in the league. However, they will need to take the next step and beat one. If they win on Sunday they will firmly establish themselves as a top tier team in the league.