For Pete's Sake

Five things to know about the Patriots ahead of Chiefs’ opener

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was taken off the field during the first half of a preseason game against the Lions in Detroit on Aug. 25.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was taken off the field during the first half of a preseason game against the Lions in Detroit on Aug. 25. The Associated Press

The Chiefs will open the 2017 season in a matter of hours, and the anticipation is building.

The game on Thursday night pits the Chiefs against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., and it will be the first of six contests on national television this season for KC.

Each week during the season, I’ll provide a quick overview of the Chiefs’ opponent for the week.

Here are five things to know about the Patriots.

1. Injuries

New England had a rough time in preseason games.

Receiver Julian Edelman, who caught a team-high 98 passes for the Patriots last season, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in a preseason game against Detroit on Aug. 25. He will miss the season.

Phillip Dorsett, who spent the last two seasons with the Colts, and Brandin Cooks, the former Saints receiver, are both in their first seasons with the Patriots.

New England also lost cornerback/return man Cyrus Jones to a torn ACL in the Patriots’ final preseason contest.

2. Gronk

Tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared in just eight games (six starts) in 2016 because his season was cut short by back surgery. But healthy, thanks in part to following a diet during the offseason that was set up by Tom Brady’s trainer.

“I don’t think there’s such thing as feeling 100 (percent),” Gronkowski told the Boston Herald. “I mean, if you’re feeling 100 then that probably means you’re at home, just chilling, just working out. So, I mean, everyone’s going through something, but I feel good.”

3. Season openers

The Patriots have won nine of their last 10 season openers, including eight in a row. New England has won its four previous season-opening games as the defending Super Bowl champions. That includes three victories in the Thursday night opening game.

New England has won nine of 10 Thursday games, including seven straight. Their last loss was Nov. 13, 2008 when the Jets won 34-31 in overtime.

4. Tom Brady vs. Chiefs

Brady is 4-2 all-time against the Chiefs in the regular season, including a 3-0 record at home. Against the Chiefs, Brady has completed 114 of 181 passes for 1,442 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. His passer rating is 88.2 in the regular season against the Chiefs.

He is 9-0 as a starter in Thursday games and has passed for 2,605 yards with 24 touchdowns and two interceptions in those contests.

Brady will be just the 13th quarterback in NFL history to start a game at age 40 or older. Two Chiefs are on the list: Warren Moon and Len Dawson.

Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston said the approach to defending Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is to hit him.

5. Patriots at home

New England has won 24 straight regular-season home games against non-division AFC opponents. The last loss was a 33-10 defeat against Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2008.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff