USA Today Sports

Patriots vs. Chiefs: 3 keys to the game, fun facts, prediction

Ryan Hannable
October 13, 2018 - 12:06 pm

Sunday night at Gillette Stadium should be a good one.

Tom Brady and the Patriots will host perhaps the hottest quarterback and team in the league in Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Kansas City is a perfect 5-0 on the year, while the Patriots are 3-2, but are winners of two straight.

This is a big game when it comes to the top of the AFC as if the Chiefs come away with a win, they would be three games ahead of the Patriots in the standings and four games including the tiebreaker. While it’s only Week 6, it’s a big game when it comes to potential homefield advantage in the playoffs.

Chiefs vs. Patriots
Sunday, October 14, 2018
8:20 p.m., NBC
Patriots -3, over/under 60

3 keys to the game

Don’t allow big plays

The Chiefs come in averaging the second-most points per game in the entire NFL at 35 and the majority of their offense comes from big plays, especially from wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Bill Belichick likely has been hammering this home all week long. This will likely be a major focus of the defense as it can live with chunks of plays at a time and then holding strong in the red zone, but big plays leading to touchdowns cannot happen. Mahomes leads in the NFL with 19 passing plays of 25 yards or more. The next closest is Ben Roethlisberger with 15. The Patriots will also need to keep an eye on tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt.

Keep progressing on offense

After a sluggish start, mostly due to the players on the field, the Patriots offense has picked it up in recent weeks. It had its best game last Thursday against the Colts and that was likely because of getting Julian Edelman back after his four-game suspension, and Josh Gordon having more experience with the offense. Brady looked more comfortable with Edelman at his disposal and he and Gordon seem to be developing some chemistry. Also, Kansas City is allowing the most yards per carry in the league, so look for Sony Michel to have a solid game as well.

Red zone play

With two good offenses and suspect defenses, this is where the game will be decided. If one team can hold the other to field goals instead of touchdowns, they will likely come out on top. This is where the Patriots have had a ton of success in the past where they win games by forcing teams into field goals, especially good offenses. The Patriots are 14th in the league, allowing touchdowns on 53 percent of opponent red zone trips, while the Chiefs are 23rd, allowing touchdowns on 65 percent of opponent red zone trips.

Fun facts

1. Edelman and Brady are 36-0 in regular-season games they have both played in against AFC opponents at Gillette Stadium.

2. Quarterbacks 25 and under are 1-41 all-time in regular-season games played in Gillette Stadium. Colin Kaepernick is the only QB to win such a matchup.

3. Against the Patriots defense this year, offenses are 14-for-14 on third-and-three or less. 

4. If the Patriots record an interception it will be for the sixth straight game, which would be the longest streak since 2013 when they did it in eight consecutive games.

5. Since 2001, the Patriots are 88-11 when they don’t turn the ball over and are 139-12 when having a positive turnover margin.


Patriots 31, Chiefs 27

The Patriots just always seem to find a way to win these games. They had an extra couple of days to prepare coming off a Thursday game and they also are catching the Chiefs at a good time. Kansas City played on the road on a Monday night before a physical game against Jacksonville last Sunday. Also, the Chiefs likely will be down two of their safeties and have even had a wide receiver take reps at the position in practice this week. We like the Patriots to be able to make just a few more plays than Kansas City.

Related: Mike Lombardi on OMF explains why Bill Belichick is so good against young QBs