Players to watch
Dontari Poe Poe is a powerful former 1st round pick in his third year in the league. He will be a 350lbs. bundle of joy for the relatively weak Patriots interior offensive line. While the Pats OL has gotten a lot of grief the first few weeks of the season and their underwhelming play, it needs to be remembered that they have faced several of the best DLs and pass rushers in the league. This week will be no different and neither will Cincy, Buffalo and the Jets the following three weeks. Whether it is Connolly, Wendell or Stork up the middle this week, it will be a spot to watch.
Justin Houston Not to be outdone by his line mate Justin Houston will be applying pressure from the outside as one of the more feared pass rushers in the league opposite Tamba Hali. Houston will likely be going after RT Sebastian Vollmer, which is hopefully a blessing as we have seen the work Solder has done against speed rushers so far this year.
Jamaal Charles While he has been injured recent, he is still the heart and soul of this offense. If he is a go on Monday night he will be the player that BB will likely try to make them beat the Pats without. I would expect some sort of spy on Charles whenever he is on the field since he is an elite receiving back as well as running back.
Alex Smith This guy will be where the game is likely won or lost. He has been hot and cold this year, but considering the early success the Pats secondary has had with the weaker QBs it has face, I would expect more of the cold Alex Smith. The Pats should be able to take advantage of a relatively weak arm and poor offensive line. The key to the game will be tackling at the point of contact and not allowing the short passes to turn into long gains.
Going into this game, it’s clear the Kansas City offense is not what will be winning this game for them. Big plays by the defense and special teams along winning the turnover differential will be paramount to their success. This basically means the offense needs to maintain their game manager persona, no interceptions, no fumbles, solid chunks in the run game. I would be surprised if Alex Smith throws over 25 times.
The crowd will also be a huge factor in the game, as Arrowhead is one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL and with the Monday Night timeslot it should be at its height of decibel levels. As the key always is the DL will need to get to Tom Brady and the RBs early and often to disrupt the flow of the Patriots offense.
Being the homer that I am I expect the offense to continue to slowly round into form as Gronkowski’s role expands and McDaniels slowly catches up his game planning with his personnel. I think the new and improved Pats defense will prove to be too much for the weak KC offense and their defense’s effort turns out to be just too little.
Final Score: Patriots 24, Chiefs 17