NEPD Staff Writer: Brian Delabarrera
The makeshift Chiefs (4-5) come to town just as the pieces in the AFC East fall in favor of the Patriots (6-3). This past week delivered two Jets (5-5) losses and a Bills (5-5) loss at the hands of the Dolphins (3-7).
Let’s see what matchups will be key to the Patriots taking a commanding lead in the AFC East.
Tyler Palko vs. Andre Carter
In East Rutherford, NJ last weekend, DE Andre Carter put on a clinic, sacking Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez a franchise record 4.5 times. To me this was especially impressive and motivating as this was not even accomplished during the glory days of 2001-2004(-08?). With a little help from his friends Vince Wilfork and Mark Anderson, this group up front needs to put the pressure on Kansas City’s 4th-year LT Branden Albert and the offensive line. If the Patriot defense can get to Palko and frustrate him early, the linebackers in coverage may just be able to come away with another interception.
Tom Brady vs. Brandon-Squared
Tom Brady looked great against the Jets, torching the “prestigious” defense for 329 yards and 3 touchdowns. This week he will facing another duo of talented cornerbacks in Bandon Flowers and Brandon Carr (4 and 2 INTs respectively) and will need to pass as precisely as possible. These safeties aren’t too bad either combining for 4 picks of their own.
Armed to the teeth with receiving options, it’s very easy for Brady to get eager to start slinging passes. Slow, methodical passing, however, will be the key to picking apart this Chiefs secondary.
Chad Ochocinco needs to make sure that he doesn’t contribute to any offensive turnovers too. If he can’t put up superstar numbers, he must prevent giving a boost to our opponents. Strong hands, good routes, and attention to detail will bring 8-5 closer to pace with his quarterback and we need that in the postseason desperately.
Injury List vs Injury List
The Patriots list 13 as questionable and the Chiefs list 4 key defensive starters as well. This includes Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers and DE Glenn Dorsey. For New England fans, we need to keep our eyes on Wes Welker, Sebastian Vollmer, Patrick Chung, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. In each case, it will most likely lead to more frequent substitutions and more team-effort.
No matter what, Green-Ellis will see a decent amount of help from Kevin Faulk and Stevan Ridley who will all be trying to steer clear of veteran LB Derrick Johnson (71 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT).
With Devin McCourty listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury gift-wrapped from teammate Sterling Moore, Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe will have plenty of chances to make something happen for his team. The only question is who comes to play harder? Will Bowe continue his scoreless trend for a 5th game? Or will he try and stick it to a defense already under a lot of scrutiny?
The New England defense made quite a good impression last week and will want to take that with them moving forward. This weekend presents a real good opportunity for the Pats and it will take a team effort in the wake of all the injuries.
New England wins comfortably at home: 35-20