Insight from the Real Experts: Pats vs. KC

It is time again for our weekly conversation with the real experts of the Chiefs upcoming opponent, the fan who follows the team day in and day out. This week the Chiefs try to remain as a viable contender in the AFC playoff race by hosting the New England Patriots. The Chiefs seek to turn their 45-17 victory over the Houston Texans into a winning streak. The Patriots enter the game at 6-4 atop the AFC East and have won three of their last four games.

This week we visit with 2 fans of the New England Patriots. Our panel consists of the following:
• John George, 32 year-old finance writer, from Stafford, Virginia; a Patriots fan for 27 years, since Steve Grogan was throwing to Harold Jackson and Michael Haynes owned his side of the field.
• Box_O_Rocks of Patsfan.com, 47 year-old retired Military, from Upstate New York, a Patriots fan for over 30 years.

Our panel of Patriots fans sees the league leader in passing yards, Tom Brady, having a big game against the 29th ranked defense against the pass. However, they also acknowledge that their injury-depleted secondary may also open up opportunities for Trent Green and the Chiefs offense.

Question: What aspect of the Patriots attack do the Chiefs not have an answer for?

Answer: "The passing offense. Kansas City's secondary has been reasonably good against their opponent's #1 receiver. However, they have been statistically poor against #2 WRs and TEs. If David Givens is healthy enough to go Sunday, the Patriots are going to tear off yardage in huge chunks between the 20s.

When the Patriots have Branch, Givens, and either Tim Dwight or Andre Davis spread wide, the Chiefs are outmatched. Add in the fact that the Chiefs have nobody who can cover TE Ben Watson, and Kansas City fans better pray for a windy afternoon and an off day from Brady." – John George

"The Patriots' pass offense is its strongest weapon and there have been improvements in the running game which enhance the passing game.

The heart of the offense is Tom Brady, even Raiders' fans know about Tom (though they struggle with the spelling). He has two potent receivers who are currently healthy, WR Deion Branch and TE Ben Watson.

We hope to have WR David Givens, WR Troy Brown, and TE Daniel Graham back on the field Sunday to give Tom more options. WR Andre Davis, WR Tim Dwight, and WR Bethel Johnson stretch the field for the team. RB Heath Evans and RB Patrick Pass are good receivers out of the backfield." – Box O Rocks

Analysis: The Chiefs pass defense has been the weak link of the defense this year. As stated earlier, the pass defense ranks 29th in the league and have yielded some huge individual games this year to players like Santana Moss, Terrell Owens, and Antonio Gates. The Chiefs have also struggled to contain tight ends who can get down the field and make receptions. The combination of Deion Branch/Andre Davis and Ben Watson/Daniel Graham may be problematic for the Chiefs, especially if Patrick Surtain is unable to play.

Question: What concerns do you as a Patriots ' fan have as you look at the Chiefs?

Answer: "With the season-long absence of Rodney Harrison, the Patriots have no way of covering athletic tight ends. Antonio Gates had his way with the Pats D. Alge Crumpler, Courtney Anderson, hell, the Patriots gave up plays to some New Orleans stiff named Zachary Hilton I've never heard of before. This should be the day Tony Gonzalez fantasy owners have been waiting for all season. If he doesn't get 8-12 balls thrown his way, it's time to start questioning the play calling." – John George

Question: What is the area on the Patriots team that worries you the most and why?

Answer: "Depth. Injuries have gutted this team like nothing I've ever seen. Last week we were down to 4 of the 11 normal starters on offense. We've recently been playing with two RBs (Mike Cloud and Heath Evans) that were out of football three weeks ago. We've lost a mind-bogglingly large number of defensive backs: Rodney Harrison, Tyrone Poole, Blue Gay, Chad Scott, Guss Scott, and Duane Starks (not that he was playing well), have all gone on IR since week 3.

James Sanders has been out most weeks. We're at the point where guys are signed off the street on Tuesday and in the starting lineup on Sunday. Indeed, Artrell Hawkins was signed last week and played in the nickel on Sunday. Right now our secondary features two starters from last year (Eugene Wilson and Asante Samuel), two rookies (Sanders and Ellis Hobbs), three guys signed off the street over the last month (Hawkins, Hank Poteat, and Michael Stone), and an aging slot receiver (Troy Brown)." – John George

"The defensive secondary has received the most attention with six of the ten defensive backs who started the season on injured reserve. But flying under the radar is the nose tackle position where second year player Vince Wilfork has been completing his apprenticeship. With Larry Johnson running behind that line, nose tackle becomes the critical factor in maintaining a ‘defensive balance' to combat Green, Gonzalez, and the passing attack." Box O Rocks

Analysis: The Patriots are ranked 31st in the league against the pass. Last week the Chiefs exploited the worst run defense in the league as Larry Johnson piled up 211 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries. This is another week where exploiting an opponents weakness should be the game plan. While it wouldn't be wise to have Trent Green throw 50 passes, it would be smart to reduce Johnson's carries to the 20 to 25 range and utilize play action to open up Tony Gonzalez, Eddie Kennison and Sammie Parker.

Conclusion: The must win games continue for Kansas City this week. The Chiefs cannot afford to drop 3 games behind the division leading Denver Broncos or 2 games behind the wild card leaders, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Patriots will prove to be a more formidable opponent than the Texans. They are a solid football team who makes very few mistakes. Tom Brady is one of the top three quarterbacks in the league and will exploit any mistakes made by the Chiefs. It is imperative that the Chiefs get pressure on him with the front four or the blitz package.

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