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Five things to know about the Chiefs’ next opponent: New England Patriots

One Minute Preview: New England Patriots

Here are five things to know before the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Foxborough, Mass. to take on the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football.
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Here are five things to know before the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Foxborough, Mass. to take on the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football.

The Patriots are toast.

That was the diagnosis from some NFL observers after the Patriots were thumped by the Lions in Detroit on a Sunday night game last month.

If this sounds familiar, it should. People said the same thing early last season after a 2-2 start, and New England ended up playing in the Super Bowl. Chiefs fans certainly recall when Kansas City crushed the Patriots 41-14 on a “Monday Night Football” game at Arrowhead Stadium in 2014 and some said quarterback Tom Brady’s career was on the decline.

That season ended with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl.

So, yeah, it’s a regular occurrence for the Patriots to be written off only to see them rebound.

Since that 26-10 loss to the Lions on Sept. 23, New England has beaten the Dolphins (38-7) and Colts (38-24) at home and will face the Chiefs next.

I’m providing a quick overview of the next Chiefs’ opponent early in each week, and here are five things to know about the Patriots, 3-2. The game is Sunday at 7:15 p.m. on NBC (Ch. 41).

Receiver changes

The Patriots receiving corps has changed since the season opener.

After missing the Patriots’ first four games, receiver Julian Edelman had seven receptions for 57 yards last Thursday against the Colts.

NFL Research noted that Edelman caught three passes (28 yards) on the Patriots’ opening drive. That’s noteworthy because quarterback Tom Brady did not complete more than two passes on an opening drive in any of New England’s first four games.

Edelman was out because he was serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The Patriots also traded for receiver Josh Gordon last month, and he’s slowly making an impact. He had two catches for 32 yards against Miami and then had two receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Colts. He can be a handful:

Sony Michel

Rookie running back Sony Michel has given the Patriots’ rushing attack a boost the last two weeks.

Michel, who played at Georgia, has run for 210 yards in 43 attempts (4.9 yards per game) the last two weeks, and he’s scored a touchdown in each of the Patriots’ last two games.

Tom Brady’s interceptions

Through five games, Brady is throwing a touchdown on 6.7 percent of his pass attempts, his highest percentage since 2010. The bad news: Brady’s interception percentage (3.4) is the highest of his career.

Brady, 41, has already thrown six interceptions after having eight last season, and two in 12 games in 2016.

In eight games against the Chiefs (seven regular season, one playoff), Brady has completed 158-of-259 passes for 2,011 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His career record against Kansas City is 5-3.

Defensive stats

The Patriots are 10th in scoring defense (21.6 points per game), but their other numbers are middle-of-the road at best. New England is 16th in total defense (366.0 yards per game), 14th in passing defense (252.0 ypg) and 21st in rushing defense (114.0 ypg).

New England hasn’t done a great job of getting at the quarterback. The Patriots are tied for 29th with seven sacks. That’s something to keep in mind, because Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is having a great season.

Turnover margin

The Patriots defense has 10 takeaways, which is tied for the sixth most in the NFL. New England is tied with the Chiefs and Chargers for seventh in interceptions (six) and are tied for fourth in the NFL with four fumble recoveries.

However, New England is tied for the fifth most turnovers (nine) in the league. The Patriots’ overall turnover differential is one, which is tied for 11th in the NFL. The Chiefs (plus-five) are tied for fourth.