The New England Patriots are preparing to face the Chicago Bears, but lets look back at Sunday night’s win against the Kansas City Chiefs and the concerns the wins presented.
With the scoreboard reading 24-9 this past Sunday night in favor of the New England Patriots at the half, the story seemed to already be written — Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes wasn’t ready yet for the road test against all-time greats Tom Brady and Bill Belichick .
Then the second half came, and so did Mahomes. The 23-year old signal caller was in command for the final 30 minutes of football, picking apart the New England secondary and finding his deep threat Tyreek Hill at ease. It was a passing clinic on display for the national audience.
After throwing for 164 yards in the first half with no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions, the Chiefs budding star exploded for 188 yards and four touchdowns in the second half with no interceptions.
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Three of the touchdowns went to Hill and another to Kareem Hunt. To start the second half Hunt had a 67-yard touchdown reception and Hill added another long catch of 75 yards for a score.
It was clear the Chiefs and head coach Andy Reid found a weakness in the Patriots secondary and succeeded in attacking it.
While the Chiefs outscored the Patriots 31-19 in the final half of play, New England escaped with a 43-40 victory. All seemed well.
But it isn’t, not yet at least. The Patriots defense must get better against a quarterback with a lively arm such as Mahomes.
The real concern
Another trip to the Super Bowl for New England starts in the secondary.
This season the New England Patriots secondary has actually performed fairly well, giving up 7.1 yards per passing attempt, eighth best in football.
However, yards per completion is more indicative of where a defense truly ranks against the pass. The Patriots rank worse in this category, allowing 10.7 yards per completion, 18th best in football.
New England has also allowed 15 touchdowns, second most in the NFL.
The Chiefs ability to hit on chunk pass plays and throw for four scores was no aberration.
That is the biggest piece to the Patriots defense that has to be better.
The turnover game
While New England must improve in that facet of the game, the Patriots secondary has been strong elsewhere.
Forcing turnovers has been a positive for New England and that was no different against the Chiefs. The Patriots intercepted Patrick Mahomes twice, one resulted in a touchdown for the offense in the first half.
On the season the Patriots have eight interceptions on defense, sixth best in the league.
If New England can maintain its pace of forcing turnovers, that will be huge come playoff time against a prolific offense such as the Chiefs. But it doesn’t take away the fact that New England must find a way to prevent long plays.
It’s just Week 7 so there’s plenty of time for the Patriots to do so.
But as everybody knows, the Patriots don’t define their season until the playoffs roll around.
The final 30 minutes against the Chiefs was very worrisome as Mahomes will only grow with experience and the Kansas City defense that ranks dead last in the NFL can only get better as the season wears on especially with the returns of 5-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and 4-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Justin Houston looming.
The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots are clearly the class of the AFC and another matchup between the two in the playoffs seems to be a foregone conclusion barring injuries.
The final 30 minutes this past Sunday showed that if New England hasn’t figured out how to stop chunk plays when the playoffs come around, Mahomes and the Chiefs will be representing the AFC in Super Bowl LIII.