The Chiefs’ early season gauntlet continues with a trip to New England for a Sunday night prime-time game. Here’s who we’ll be watching.
No. 87 Rob Gronkowski, TE
29 years old, 6-6, 268 pounds, 9th season
Without safety Eric Berry, Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare for the Chiefs. Berry was responsible for staying on the monster tight end last year and kept him to just two receptions and 33 yards. This time around, the Chiefs don’t have much of an answer for him. Gronkowski has been quiet through the first five games of the season because opposing defense have been able to double-team him. He’s also been working through a nagging ankle injury. But with his health returning and receiver Julian Edelman back from a four-game suspension, the Chiefs won’t be able to focus on the tight end. That could free him up to have his first breakout performance of the 2018 season.
No. 98 Trey Flowers, DL
25 years old, 6-2, 265 pounds, 4th season
If the Patriots are going to contain Patrick Mahomes, defensive lineman Flowers is going to be the man leading the charge. The defensive linemen is the Patriots’ best defensive player, and his even-keeled demeanor will be crucial in keeping Mahomes in check Sunday night. Flowers is known for staying disciplined and keyed-in, even against mobile quarterbacks like Mahomes that might pressure other defenders to abandon their principles.
No. 15 Patrick Mahomes, QB
23 years old, 6-3, 230 pounds, 2nd season
The Chiefs’ quarterback is getting his second prime-time treatment this season, and he’ll be doing it in the home of a future Hall of Famer. Mahomes was only 6 years old when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002, but now he’ll be playing against him Sunday night. Mahomes is coming off his worst performance of his young career, throwing two interceptions and no touchdown passes in the win against Jacksonville. But he still ran the ball in for a touchdown in that game and he has 14 touchdown passes overall. Mahomes is making his seventh career start, and according to the NFL Media Research Department, the last eight quarterbacks with 10 or fewer career starts before starting against the Patriots went 0-8 with six touchdowns and eight interceptions.
No. 57 Breeland Speaks, LB
22 years old, 6-3, 285 pounds, 1st season
With injuries to Justin Houston and Tanoh Kpassagnon, rookie Speaks is in line for a lot more playing time this week. Speaks stepped up in place of Houston in the second quarter when the veteran exited Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, and he ended up playing a season-high 56 snaps. He also had a fumble recovery, grabbing a loose ball forced by Dee Ford. The Chiefs added pass rushers Frank Zombo and Nate Orchard prior to the Patriots game to provide more depth at the position. But after last week, Speaks looks like he’s going to get the first shot at filling in for the injured players.