Opening night is upon us in the NFL, as the defending Super Bowl Champion, New England Patriots, kick the 2017 season off against the Kansas City Chiefs. If you need a refresher, the Patriots staged the biggest comeback in history, erasing a 28-3 Atlanta lead en route to a 34-28 win. The Falcons had a 28-3 lead past the mid-way point of the 3rd quarter, but then Tom Brady happened. He did it while he was in college at Michigan, and it carried over into the pros.
His ability to comeback when facing adversity is second to none. There is still blame to go around on the Falcons side, though. Instead of pounding the ball and eating clock in the second-half, they chose to keep throwing the ball with Matt Ryan. The biggest gaffe was a sack that took the Falcons out of field goal range, resulting in a punt, which turned into a Patriots’ touchdown in the next possession.
Tonight is meant as a moment of celebration for that game in Foxboro, but Bill Belichick won’t have any of it. You know it didn’t take long after the last Super Bowl for him to have his eyes set on winning yet another in 2017-18. It all starts against the Chiefs on Thursday night, as they look to be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots did it in 2005. The Seahawks almost did it two years ago, but the Pats closed that door. A Super Bowl this season would make for three championships in the last four seasons.
There was some doubts that the Patriots wouldn’t be able to win the Super Bowl a season ago, but I see no doubt on the look of people for this year. After they pulled off that improbable comeback, it almost feels like Brady is going to find a way to get another before he retires. I don’t know if it’s going to come this year, but I agree that he will win at least one more Super Bowl before he gives up the game. A notable comrade will be gone this season, however. Julian Edelman tore his ACL against the Lions in the preseason.
The Chiefs will once again head into another season with Alex Smith under center at quarterback. Smith has been the model of consistency in the NFL, but he’s never been able to get the Chiefs over that hump. Enter rookie Pat Mahomes out of Texas Tech. Mahomes showcased why the Chiefs drafted him in the preseason tenfold. Any regression by Smith is going to quickly signal a change to Mahomes, in my opinion. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him tonight, but keep an eye open for Mahomes in the future.
K.C. Chiefs vs. New England Patriots Betting Odds:
vs. Patriots -9(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Chiefs vs. Patriots Pick:
Brady is back for another installment of the NFL for the Patriots. He has nothing left to prove at this point, but I think in his mind, he’s thinking that there is a lot more left to be accomplished. How many rings does Michael Jordon have? Six. How many does Tom Brady have? Five. Yeah, I know what you’re going to say, it’s a different sport. However, years from now when Brady is retired, he would like to be known as the guy who matched the GOAT from another sport, or even surpass. There is still plenty of figure under Brady to win another.
The Patriots are down Edelman, but there is still a bevy of talent to go around. The Pats added Brandin Cooks to an already dynamic offense, and are going into 2017 with a healthy Rob Gronkowski. Chris Hogan will be looked up at to fill the void left by Edelman. He isn’t Edelman, but I think Hogan will do just fine an elevated role. If you want a sleeper on this Pats’ offense, look at none other than former Bengal, Rex Burkhead. I expect the Patriots to get the most out of him by using him all over the field. The offense will still thrive without Edelman.
The Chiefs have long been known as a team without dangerous targets in the passing game. With Jeremy Maclin gone, Alex Smith will need to develop a rhythm with Chris Conley and Albert Wilson. The best target Smith has in his arsenal is Travis Kelce at tight end. Kelce enters Thursday night with a minor calf injury. Besides Tyreek Hill and Kelce, the Patriots don’t have much to nullify on the Chiefs’ offense.
The Patriots have what I’ve considered the most underrated defense in the NFL. They finished 8th in yards allowed per game and 1st with just 15.6 points allowed. Brady and the Patriots’ offense may overshadow their defensive unit, but make no mistake, they’re impressive and show field another aggressive defense. Note, that starting runner Spencer Ware will be out with an injury. Their running back situation is dicey heading into Week 1. Defense for the Chiefs will keep them around in this game for a half, but I expect the Patriots to take control and pull away to cover the spread in the 4th quarter. Hard for me not to take Brady in primetime against an inferior offense.
PICK: PATRIOTS -9 (-110)