The Kansas City Chiefs open their season this week Thursday night in primetime at the New England Patriots.
The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots added a number of talented pass catchers to their roster this offseason and, as with most seasons in Foxborough, this Patriots team looks like a Super Bowl favorite. Kansas City, a team in the top tier of the league, is going into Thursday night looking to prove itself as a bonafide Super Bowl contender. However, the Chiefs have a lot of obstacles to overcome if they want to come out with a win.
Gronkowski is a walking nightmare for opposing teams. Most times, he’s too big for safeties to cover and too fast for linebackers to keep up with. NFL.com’s Nate Burleson said stopping Gronkowski would require a defensive back with the size, speed and playmaking ability of Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson, respectively.
Simply put, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid needs to make sure he has a clear plan for shutting down Gronk on Thursday night. It’ll be hard to slow down the league’s best tight end, but strategic game planning paired with talents like safety Eric Berry and linebacker Derrick Johnson should leave the Chiefs’ defense up for the task.
New England’s offensive additions
While shutting down Gronkowski is a major issue, the Chiefs’ biggest priority on Thursday needs to be stopping a New England offense which added tight end Dwayne Allen and receivers Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett this offseason.
New England is a team that has had a consistently talented offense regardless of their roster. The loss of wide receiver Julian Edelman in the preseason was certainly a blow to the Patriots, but adding three substantial pass catchers to Tom Brady’s arsenal not only makes New England OK without Edelman, but that much more dynamic and harder to stop.
The good news for the Chiefs is they will be going into Thursday’s matchup with star linebackers Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson ready to play and fully recovered from knee and Achilles injuries suffered a season ago.
However, the Chiefs will still be missing some starters on defense, and this could prove to be problematic. Tamba Hali was placed on the physically unable to perform list, leaving the team without one of its premium pass rushers for multiple weeks. Cornerback Steven Nelson was also placed on IR and safety Ron Parker hasn’t gone through a full practice this week while nursing an ankle injury.
When it comes to defending Gronkowski, Cooks, Dorsett, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola, Kansas City is going to need all the help it can get.
Edited by Joe Noser | Jnoser@themaneater.com