In keeping with tradition, the first game of the season features the defending Super Bowl champions hosting a team believed to be among the biggest competition they face this season. New England is coming off their fifth title under head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots have made seven Super Bowl appearances during the Brady/Belichick era.
This will be the 35th meeting between the teams, including a 2015 AFC Divisional contest which was won by New England, with Kansas City holding a 17-14-3 advantage. New England has won its past eight Kickoff Weekend home openers and 12 of its past 13 in Week 1.
The Chiefs come in to New England after having won their first AFC West title since 2010. Kansas City made very few changes during the offseason and will feature virtually the same faces on both sides of the ball. One name that will be missing, however, is defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons. The Chiefs drafted Chris Jones in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft to help take Poe’s place, and re-signed veterans Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard to add depth to the line. They also signed nose tackle Bennie Logan away from the Philadelphia Eagles.
On offense, Kansas City raised quite a few eyebrows with the release of Jeremy Maclin, but hope to replace his production with the up-and-coming Tyreek Hill, along with Chris Conley. Alex Smith is Mr. Dependable at quarterback, but Patrick Mahomes, who the Chiefs drafted with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is breathing down his neck. The running back position is ably manned by the dynamic young duo of Charcandrick West and Kareem Hunt.
New England made a few changes during the off season, and comes back better than ever. The Patriots lost running back LaGarette Blount to the Philadelphia Eagles, but signed former Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead. In his only start of the season in the final game of the year at Baltimore, Burkhead managed 144 yards from scrimmage on 29 total touches and scored two touchdowns against a Top-10 Baltimore defense.
Running back Dion Lewis looks to be all the way back from an ACL injury he suffered in Week 11 of last season, and James White, the Patriots’ third-down specialist, is ready to contribute, as well. White was able to show his mettle as a runner last year after the Lewis injury.
The Patriots did lose Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long to free agency, but added deep threat Brandin Cooks, formerly of New Orleans, and grabbed cornerback Stephon Gilmore away from Buffalo. New England also added a competent tight end in former Colt Dwayne Allen to pair Rob Gronkowski.
How to watch Chiefs at Patriots
Date: Thursday, September 7th, 2017
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
TV Channel: NBC
Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter)
Odds: Patriots: -9; under/over: 49 (Bovada)