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The New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs have connections with each other. From the GM of the Chiefs, Scott Pioli, to the currently injured quarterback of Kansas City, Matt Cassel, to the defensive coordinator for Kansas City, Romeo Crennel. The one thing they don’t share is success on the football field.
The Patriots are coming off a crucial road win against the Jets to gain sole possession of first place in the AFC East and sweeping the season series with New York. The Chiefs have dropped two straight after winning four in a row, but without their starting quarterback, they will have to turn to Tyler Palko to keep them in the hunt for the AFC West.
For the Chiefs, they might not be getting Cassel back anytime soon. Coach Todd Haley said Cassel suffered a “significant” hand injury against the Broncos last Sunday and potentially could miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on Monday. Palko has only thrown 13 passes in the NFL and will be leading the Chiefs for now.
“Tyler is the next in line, and he’s done a terrific job, like I said, of keeping himself ready,” Haley said. “That’s what the No. 2 quarterback has to do, because you don’t know. At a moment’s notice, you could be in there playing, just like any other position.” The Patriots, on the other hand, are sitting pretty atop the AFC East after responding well against the Jets behind Brady’s 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Brady will look to continue that against a defense ranked 22nd overall giving up 364.3 yards per game. “No matter what happened last week, whether we won, lost, at home or on the road or in London, it doesn’t matter. Once that game is over, we have to put it behind us,” Belichick said.
“Now it’s about preparing for Kansas City, what they do, what their schemes are, what their players are, what their tendencies are in certain coaching decision situations that we’ll have to make.” Brady has not faced the Chiefs since the season opener in 2008 in which he was knocked out for the year, which led to Cassel starting for the Patriots and eventually getting traded to Kansas City.
“In order to make plays, you have to run good routes, you have to make good throws, you have to pass protect against one of the best pass rushers that we face in (Tamba) Hali,” Brady said. Hali has 6 of the Chiefs 9 total sacks, but even with pressure from him Brady should be able to find his tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
The Patriots offense has never been the problem; the problem lies with the defense that played very well against the Jets. Defensive end Andre Carter had four sacks against the Jets and, if he can keep that going, the battered Patriots secondary could have an easier time.
Cornerback Devin McCourty who suffered a shoulder injury in the game against New York will likely be out for a few weeks and safety Patrick Chung is questionable this week. Without those players, the Patriots may not be able to match up against wide receiver Dwayne Bowe who has 19 touchdowns since 2010.
Coach Bill Belichick isn’t counting on a significant drop off from Cassel to Palko. “I think that Palko can do everything that he needs to do from what Matt has done,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect them to deviate too far from what they like to do.” This is a must win for both teams.
The Chiefs are looking to keep pace in the crowded race for the West and the Patriots look to increase their lead over the Jets, who lost on Thursday to Denver, and stay a game ahead of Buffalo who right now owns the tiebreaker having beat the Patriots back in Week 3.
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