Three things the Chiefs must do in order to beat the Patriots:
1) Run the Ball, often
The Patriots rush defense has improved in the last few weeks, but it started off as one of the worst in the league. That honor has fallen to their defensive secondary, which has repeatedly given up big plays as the safeties have moved up in run support. If the Chiefs can get Larry Johnson on track early, they'll force the Patriots to bring up safety help to slow down the run.
The combination of Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi at middle linebacker has significantly upgraded the porous middle of the Patriots defense, which was manned earlier by Monty Beisel and Chad Brown. The return of Richard Seymour also contributed to the equation improving the unit to 22nd overall. The Patriots have been able to keep opposing teams to less than 4 yards per rush average, in the last four games, excluding a couple long scrambles by Saints QB Aaron Brooks.
Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Willie Parker and Steven Davis all found their averages go down in games the Patriots focused on the run. The downside of that for New England have been stellar performances by opposing quarterbacks.
2) Don't be afraid to go deep
The Patriots rank 31st in the league in pass defense, and it's no coincidence that is the one area the Patriots have had trouble keeping bodies healthy. New England has lost six defensive backs this season and is playing three players who were not on a roster at the beginning of the season in Michael Stone, Hank Poteat and Artrell Hawkins. If the Chiefs can hold off the pressure from outside backers Rosevelt Colvin and Willie McGinest, Trent Green should have a field day against the Patriots inexperienced defensive backfield.
The Patriots will be trying to slow down Eddie Kennison, Tony Gonzales and Samie Parker, but if their front four can't get past the Chiefs offensive line, Green will boost his 237 passing yards per game average significantly. If Aaron Brooks and Gus Frerotte can average over 330 yards per game against the Patriots secondary, Green should have no trouble breaking 300 as well.
3) Get In Tom Brady's Face
Teams that have found a way to get to Tom Brady have been able to prevent the former Super Bowl MVP from getting on a roll. When defenses don't get pressure on Brady he manages to find the open receiver whether it's his first, second or third read in the progression. Brady has connected with 11 different receivers for long pass plays 25 yards and over this season. Those plays have come on long bombs, tight end screens, passes to the running back in the flats and middle slants. There is no one particular play the Chiefs can work on to stop Brady from finding the open receiver.
Watching Brady operate in a season where he has lost his linemen, starting running back, number two receiver and his primary tight end, yet still put up over 300 yards has been impressive. What makes it more so is that he managed to do that while missing starting center, left tackle, right tackle and had his left guard missing as well in a game.
How the Patriots manage to protect Brady long enough for him to find a receiver becomes more impressive considering they have been without their top three running backs (Dillon, Faulk Pass) three of the last four games, using players who were not with any team (Evans, Zereoue, Cloud) come off the street to assist in the running game and pass protection.
If the Chiefs can get pressure with their front four or even add in a linebacker like Johnson to the mix, then they will be able to prevent Brady from connecting to his second or third read. That is the key. Cover the Patriots primary receiver Deion Branch and get pressure on him so he can't dump it to his other options. The problem has been that teams haven't been able to do both consistently which is why Brady is on pace to shatter his career best, while leading the NFL in total yardage passing.