On Thursday night, the New England Patriots will raise their fifth NFL Championship banner. Then they’ll get the playoff showdown the Steelers robbed them of back in January. The Patriots and Chiefs will square off in New England in a Thursday Night Football showcase to start the 2017 season. The first real football game of the fall kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on NBC (live stream).
The two teams seemed on a collision course as the 2016 season came to a close. A strong finish made Kansas City the AFC’s No. 2 team, leaving them one home victory from a conference championship game date in New England. Instead, Pittsburgh emerged from Missouri victorious without scoring a single touchdown, ending the Chiefs’ breakout season with an ignominious ending.
Now they’ll get a chance to wash that sour taste from their mouths — but they’ll have to get past the league’s preeminent Super Bowl favorite on their home turf to do so.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
- TV: NBC
- Streaming: NBC Sports Live
- Odds: New England is favored by 7 points.
Chiefs at Patriots news:
- The Patriots are on top of SB Nation’s power rankings, because who else would you put there?
It doesn’t hurt that New England poured resources this offseason into winning while they still can with Tom Brady. The future Hall of Famer is 40 now, so the team struck big in the offseason by trading for Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett, and signing Stephon Gilmore.
- Here’s a reminder of what Tyreek Hill can do against NFL secondaries, and why it might not matter with Alex Smith at quarterback.
there are at least defenders trying to cover Hill, but thanks to his speed, he has them beat. Smith’s pocket is pretty clean again, although he’s reacting like it isn’t. The offensive line can only hold off the Steelers for so long, and Smith holds on to this ball far too long considering that Hill is, for much of this time, definitely open.
- Mike Gillislee is going to get chances he never got in Buffalo, and that’s why he’s set to be the Patriots’ breakout player for 2017.
He always runs behind his pads, which I love, and that enables him to run through would-be arm tackles while always falling forward when he finally does go to the ground. You won’t see him losing yardage on many plays unless multiple blockers just whiff on the same play. Gillislee is also usually going to get every single inch that he can out of every play.
- Andy Reid smoked the Patriots in prime time back in 2014. Other than that, his record has been, uh, regrettable.
- New England lists seven players on first injury report
The biggest news probably concerns the players not listed on the injury report: Starting left tackle Nate Solder and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower have been full practice participants today. The two stars missed all of preseason due to injuries and recovery work. Seeing them not on the list is therefore a good sign as the season opener nears.
How will the Patriots’ new pieces fit?
There are plenty of unfamiliar faces on the New England roster, and many of them stand to fill key roles in Tom Brady’s 2017 offense. Cooks and Dorsett will hope to fill the void left by Julian Edelman’s torn ACL. Dwayne Allen replaced Martellus Bennett as option 1b at tight end. Gillislee and Rex Burkhead are here to ensure no one tailback is a legit fantasy option at any point.
That’s a lot of new pieces, and while Brady has adapted with ease in the past, it’s fair to question whether there will be an adjustment period as the 2017 season begins.
Chiefs at Patriots prediction:
New England is the Super Bowl favorite for a reason, but there are still plenty of flaws that need to be worked out. Brady will have to develop some instant chemistry with his new additions against a Kansas City secondary that rates as one of the league’s best. However, even though the Chiefs can strip points from the Patriot offense, it’s tough to see the visitors scoring enough to make a dent unless Smith’s deep game can finally harness the explosive power of Hill. Eight of our nine “experts” agree the Patriots will win this one. Former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz took the Chiefs.