For Pete's Sake

Nine things to know about the New England Patriots

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be happy to throw passes again to to wide receiver Julian Edelman.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be happy to throw passes again to to wide receiver Julian Edelman. The Associated Press

Next up is the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Chiefs routed the Texans in an AFC Wild Card Game on Saturday, and that win, coupled with the Steelers victory over the Bengals, means Kansas city will face New England on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. in Foxborough, Mass.

Ahead of that game, here are nine things to know about the Patriots.

1. With LeGarrette Blount out for the season, one running back to keep an eye on is Steven Jackson. The former Rams star signed with New England on Dec. 22.

“He’s great to coach,” coach Bill Belichick told ESPN. “He works hard. You would think he’s a rookie, just trying to soak everything in, understand everything as well as he can,”

2. James White could see time as a third-down back, per the Boston Herald. White rushed the ball 22 times for just 56 yards and two touchdowns. But perhaps more importantly, he had 40 pass receptions for 410 yards and four receptions.

“I have to pick up blitzes,” White told the Herald. “If I happen to get out, just win my matchups and find the right spots in zones. I need to do whatever I can to help the team.”

3. Wide receiver Julian Edelman, arguably the Patriots’ best wide receiver, is back at practice after suffering a broken foot during a game against the New York Giants on Nov. 15. NESN.com reported that the Patriots average 6.9 yards per play when Edelman is on the field and just 4.7 yards per play when he’s on the sideline or inactive.

4. Belichick has a 22-9 record in the postseason. New England has reached the playoffs 12 previous times under Belichick and has been bounced after one game just twice.

5. For just the second time since the 2009 season, Tom Brady threw fewer touchdown passes (36) than times he was sacked (38). The other time was in 2013.

6. The Patriots ranked sixth in total offense this season and ninth in total defense.

7. New England defensive end Rob Ninkovich has played in 114 consecutive games. At age 31, he is the elder statesman of the Patriots defense and had 52 tackles and 6  1/2 sacks this season.

8. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower injured his knee against the Broncos in week 12 and tweaked it again a couple more times late in the season, according to the Boston Globe. The newspaper noted that Hightower is the defense’s signal-caller and that he is expected to play.

9. Patriots owner Robert Kraft (24) needs one more postseason win to move out of a third-place tie with the Mara family for postseason wins by an ownership group, behind 33 by the Rooney family and 31 by Green Bay. That’s according to Patch.com.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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