CCQB Week 1 – New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs: A letter to fans

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3: Tom Brady
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3: Tom Brady /

Hey Footballies,

Wow, it seems like forever since I last wrote these words. It was just a bit before the  New England Patriots launched “the greatest comeback in NFL history!” earlier this year.

Anyway, welcome back to another season of Patriots Football!

What you missed from New England Patriots Off-Season

In case you missed the off-season, Bill Belichick did the improbable: he took a legendary Super Bowl-winning team and made it even better!

Coach Stoneface may have borrowed a page from Trader Danny Ainge the past few months. Consider eventual top tight-end Martellus Bennett, LeGarette Blount (the top rushing TD scorer of the entire NFL last year), and Chris Long (arguably the guy who won the Super Bowl last year when Jake Matthews was called for holding on him and the penalty pushed the Falcons out of field goal range): they’re all gone. That’s  not even mentioning Julian Edelman, who was lost for the season during the pre-season.

And yet we now have the new guys. Here are most of them:

Running backs: Mike Gillislee (most yards per carry last season) and Rex Burkhead (second most yards per carry last season).

Wide Receivers: Highly regarded receiver Brandin Cooks and the speedy less acclaimed Phillip Dorsett.

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Front seven on defense: Deatrich Wise (rookie)Adam Butler (rookie), Cole Croston (undrafted), Harvey Langi (undrafted), Marquise Flowers,  and Cassius Marsh.

Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore (signed very rich free agent deal with Pats) and Johnson Bademosi.

All these players have looked good enough, and that’s not even mentioning the practice squad (PS).

The PS is so overloaded with talent, it must be one of the best in the NFL! In support of that contention, I’ll note that the Patriots lost the most players headed for the PS of any NFL team – 4 – so the other teams surely know the quality of players Pats had. Thus, this team could contend for best Pats team ever . . . but only if most of the players meet the expectations!

Thus, overly enthusiastic Patriots fans are savoring a 16-0 season!

Forget the Expectations

Yeah, well, that’s a nice compliment and great to dream about but it ain’t going to happen! The main thing is that this is the NFL. It is loaded with talent and the Patriots, as reigning champs, are going to get every opponent’s best effort. Everyone wants to knock off the Pats and more than one are probably going to do it. Then there’s the Improbability Factor.

Example: in the last preseason game, Jacoby Brissett had the game winning drive in his assured hands. However, with seconds left and about to throw a TD pass to win the game, a Giant knocked the football out of his fingers just before Brissett’s hand moved forward. It then rolled into the end zone where the New Jersey team recovered it for a safety to give them two points and possession. Boom! No win. Just like that! That kind of stuff happens just about every week to some NFL team.


However, the good news is, barring both quarterbacks being knocked out for the season or some other calamity, the Pats are a near lock (around 100-1) to get into the post season. (Yeah, that means if you put up $1,000, you’ll probably win $10. None for me, thanks.) So it should be at least a successful season (if you can call that success)!

Who are we playing first?

It all starts Thursday night at 8:30 when the Kansas City Chiefs come to visit. Being the first game of the season, there’s not a lot of great information about what the teams are like today. All the verbiage deals with last season or the preseason. None of that really matters (but that won’t stop sportswriters like me from droning on about it). 

F’rinstance, in the great indicator that is the third preseason game, the Pats offense got off to a great start, scoring 24 points in the first quarter against Detroit’s usually great defense. Don’t look for that to happen Thursday night against the Chiefs, though the Patriots should be able to pull a few scores out of the hat.

In short, this should be a tough game, showing us – as usual – what type of team we have this year.

Related Story: New England Patriots: Experts break down the Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs, substantially the same team as they were at the end of last season (minus top WR Jeremy Maclin and RB Spencer Ware), ranked as the third best team in the league. Last year, they only lost to the Steelers, Titans, Texans and Buccaneers. (Remember that we lost to the Bills (!) and the Seahawks – and after a bye week, too.) Also, KC probably hasn’t forgot about losing to the Pats last year in Gillette by a single score.

On the other hand, the Patriots still haven’t avenged the 41-14 Beatdown in Barbeque City back in 2014 on Monday Night Football in front of the entire nation. (Of course, that reality check put the Pats on the Super Bowl superhighway that year so we really ought to thank KC.) Still, we know the coaching staff and the Patriots there at the time still remember it and they’ll be looking for a little payback.

Andy Reid won’t give it to them. He knows the New England Patriots as well as any NFL coach and probably better than all but one or two. Belichick is the fourth best coach with the most wins. Andy Reid is 10th. Together they have 447 wins which is more than any two coaches who have ever faced off against each other. Andy’s enviable record for opening day wins plus after bye-weeks is 26-10.

Another factoid: both coaches know well how a takeaway can easily switch the momentum of a game. Last year, the Chiefs led the league in takeaways! However, the Patriots also led the league . . . in the fewest giveaways (11). It’ll be interesting to see which side prevails.

Players to watch-out for:

Tyreek Hill

Hill, the best known name on the Chiefs, loves the prime time. Last year, the then rookie scored seven of his ten touchdowns during prime time games. He has game-breaking speed and unteachable instincts as well. If the Chiefs are going to upset the Pats, he will probably be why.

Kareem Hunt

Rookie Kareem Hunt may start his breakout year by feasting on the New England Patriots. Or not. The Pats had the fourth best run defense last year. I don’t think it’s gotten any worse but we’ll see. They will most likely be without stalwart second year lineman Vincent Valentine in the middle, and who knows if 32-year-old run-stuffer Alan Branch can play at the same level as last year.


Then there’s QB Alex Smith who will probably play his mistake free football (though the much more dynamic rookie QB Patrick Mahomes, who may replace him later in the season, seems much scarier), and Justin Houston who will be 100% this time around. In their meeting last season, the talented linebacker was much less than that.

In short, this will be a difficult game but a great start of the season, either way.

Squib Notes:

More from Chowder and Champions

Pulled pork is a great way to start off the season right, especially for a dinner/late night game. Here is an easy recipe to make it happen.

– Julian Edelman: yup, that’s a tough loss for the season but, y’know, it’s happened before and the team has done all right. I remember Danny Amendola stepping up and playing tough, thus dropping his unfair “fragile” reputation.

– New-to-us Tight End Dwayne Allen won’t be able to replace Martellus Bennett (who may have played so well because he was in a contract year) but I’m expecting Dwayne’ll (nickname?) to at least be better than the forgettable Scott Chandler. We’ll see.

– Shorter Games: the NFL is promising shorter games – it’s even eliminating the commercial after the kickoffs – but phasing in the changes. Yet they have added in touchdown celebration time so we’ll see!

– LeGarrett Blount: Like most Pats fans, I was sorry to see The Attic traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. However, I trust BB’s judgment. I don’t know what the back story was but LGB doesn’t seem to be impressing the Eagles fans so far while his replacements in Foxborough are! Go Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead!

Next: Three reasons a New England Patriots 19-0 season is not ‘stupid’

– Banners: Owner Bob Kraft paid a lot of money to move the Gillette sign up to create some banner space. I think the most recent banner will be unfurled on Thursday. But you probably already guessed that.

– Hope you can all join us for the game, should be a good one.