The Detroit Lions might have a different head coach from the last time the Kansas City Chiefs faced them in 2015.
But that doesn’t mean the Chiefs aren’t familiar with the man directing traffic on the opposing sidelines.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Lions coach Matt Patricia, who enters his second season as the man in charge in Detroit, know each other well.
And there’s a healthy dose of admiration between the two men and what they’ve accomplished with their respective teams.
“Patricia’s got them fired up and going,” Reid said. “They’re playing real good football. They’re undefeated right now.”
Patricia returned the praise on the Chiefs head coach.
“I just have the utmost respect for him and what he’s able to do with teams and get teams to go compete every single week at a high level,” Patricia said.
The compliments aside, there’s a football game to play when the Chiefs (3-0) travel to Detroit to face the Lions (2-0-1) on Sunday at Ford Field.
And the two teams should have a good idea on what awaits them once the game kicks off.
From 2004 to 2017, Patricia served on the New England Patriots coaching staff in a variety of positions before assuming the role as defensive coordinator for six seasons (2012-17).
During that span, Patricia saw Reid’s teams six times, three each with the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
“He’s an amazing coach,” Patricia said. “He’s done a phenomenal job in Kansas City, even going back to the years we played against each other in Philly.”
Shared history as opponents sometimes matters in football, of course, and recent matchups between Reid’s team and a Patriots defense led by Patricia provides a good starting point.
In three meetings, including the postseason, the Chiefs went 2-1 against the Patriots from 2014 to 2017 and scored more than 40 points twice in two regular-season games.
Patricia’s defense, though, helped secure the win that mattered on Jan. 16, 2015 in the AFC Divisional Round when the Patriots defeated the Chiefs 27-20 in New England.
Patricia now has the Lions riding high on a quality two-game winning streak over the Los Angeles Chargers and Eagles, two postseason teams in 2018. The win against the Eagles is notable given coach Doug Pederson comes from the Reid coaching tree and Pederson runs a version of the West Coast offense.
Additionally, the way the Lions secured a 27-24 victory on the road could also provide a boost of confidence ahead of Sunday’s meeting with the Chiefs.
Patricia, though, downplayed that viewpoint, pointing out every week in the league provides a set of challenges unique to the opponent.
“I think every game is different,” Patricia said. “I think every team is different. Certainly, the Eagles are extremely tough team and Doug does a great job of coaching that team. But I think Andy, he’s pretty unbelievable. I think this team is built to do what they do best, and it’s just a completely different challenge for us from that standpoint.”
Still, how the Lions held the explosive Chargers offense to 10 points in Week 2 and how they beat the Eagles gives the Chiefs lessons to apply to Sunday’s game.
The one big area surrounds protecting the football when considering the Lions have five takeaways on the season. Simply put, there will be a game within the game and the Chiefs know they are facing what is developing into a disciplined Lions defense.
“I think the biggest thing they did against the Eagles was that they capitalized on turnovers,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “And I think that’s a big thing they focus on, trying to get the ball out whether it’s interceptions or they’re trying to strip the ball out of guys running with it.”
The Chiefs also know they will need to prepare well to face a defensive-minded head coach who can scheme with the best of them when it comes to taking away an opponent’s top threat.
“He’s very good at it,” Reid said of Patricia. “You can say, ‘Well, they played man coverage here, but they might come out and play Cover 2 here the next game.’
“You don’t know. You make sure that you cover all of the bases with your guys. Like I said, their base scheme is tremendous. And then, they can go in different directions with it.”
Meanwhile, Reid has enjoyed success against the Lions on his accomplished coaching career and holds a 4-1 record against the Detroit, the lone defeat coming while with the Eagles in Week 6 of the 2012 season at Ford Field.
Sunday also marks the 14th meeting between the two teams, and the Chiefs hold an 8-5 edge in the all-time series.
But as Patricia pointed out, every week is different and these are very different teams from the last time the two organizations matched up against each other in 2015.
Instead of an Alex Smith-led offense, the Lions must now contend with Mahomes and the potent Chiefs aerial attack, all of which presents major obstacles.
“For us defensively, we know we got a lot of work to do,” Patricia said. “We know we got a huge challenge in front of us. We’re just going to try to do the best we can to try and defend it.”