The New England Patriots are back. After struggling through the beginning of the year with back-to-back losses to the Jaguars and Lions, the Patriots scored 38 points each against the Dolphins and Colts.
Now New England is 3-2, back in the driver’s seat of the AFC East, and a small favorite against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs for a marquee Sunday Night Football matchup in Week 6.
It’s not just the game of the week, it’s one of the best matchups of the entire season. Just don’t try to convince Bill Belichick of that:
Bill Belichick will get you HYPED for this Chiefs-Patriots game yall. pic.twitter.com/wJtWDWoN0G— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) October 10, 2018
Are you pumped up yet? Nothing makes you want to run through a wall like the way Belichick says “It feels like we’re playing Kansas City.” Feel the fire and anticipation.
Nope, you’re not going to bring me down, Bill. I’m still excited about Patriots vs. Chiefs even if you’re determined to act like it’s just another game.
There are serious playoff implications
There’s still a lot of football left to be played in 2018, but the Chiefs and Patriots are clear favorites to win their respective divisions.
Kansas City is one of only two teams, along with the Rams, that has a zero in the loss column. The Chiefs have a two-game lead over the Chargers in the AFC West and already got a win over them in Week 1.
Yes, the Chiefs also jumped out to a 5-0 start last year before winning just one of their next seven games. But for now, they’re dragging every team they face into shootouts, and they’re looking like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Patriots are only tied for the AFC East lead, but come on ... you know how this story ends. They have nine division titles in a row, and it’d probably be 15 straight if Tom Brady didn’t tear his ACL in 2008.
If these two teams wind up as division winners, the Week 6 result could wind up deciding playoff seeds in the AFC.
So Bill, does it feel like the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage could be on the line Sunday night?
Bill Belichick’s thoughts: “It feels like we’re playing Kansas City.”
It’s another big test for Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes has only had five starts since taking the torch from Alex Smith in Kansas City, but he has passed every test with flying colors.
The second-year quarterback has an NFL-most 14 touchdowns with two interceptions for a 112.7 passer rating. Mahomes came up big when the Chiefs needed him to pull out a come-from-behind win against the Broncos, and he led his team to 424 total yards against the Jaguars’ stout defense — even if he didn’t finish with a gaudy stat line.
Mahomes has been a breakout star and an MVP favorite, but now he’ll have to face a new challenge: the scheming of Belichick.
Before he earned GOAT status with a record five Super Bowl wins, Belichick had stints as the defensive coordinator for the Giants and Jets. New England has finished top 10 in scoring defense in 12 of the last 13 seasons and is one of six teams already with double-digit takeaways in 2018.
But Bill, have you ever seen a young quarterback as dynamic and dangerous outside the pocket like Mahomes?
Bill Belichick’s thoughts: “There’s been some pretty good quarterbacks now.”
Don’t forget about Tyreek Hill
Running back Kareem Hunt was the star of the Chiefs’ 42-27 win against the Patriots in Week 1 of the 2017 season, but Hill was a difference maker too.
The 5’10 receiver had a 75-yard touchdown early in the second half of that game that gave Kansas City a 21-17 lead. So far in 2018, Hill has four touchdowns — including a 58-yard receiving touchdown and a 91-yard punt return touchdown.
Does that remind Belichick of anyone? How about Eric Metcalf, a 5’10 receiver who played four seasons under Belichick, and finished his career as one of the all-time great returners?
Bill Belichick’s thoughts: “No.”
Fine, maybe it really is just another regular season game to a coach who has seen bigger games. Things matter more when it’s the playoffs. Does the MLB postseason at least get him a little excited then?
Play us off, Bill.
Belichick on Red Sox moving on...— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) October 10, 2018
“Yep, yeah. Good series.”