Neutral Zone Infractions: Patriots, Chiefs Fans Cross Into Enemy Territory

Note from the Editor-In-Chief: Obviously, as you're reading this article, the Patriots-Chiefs Week 4 matchup has been postponed due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests. As of this moment, the game is scheduled to be played on Monday, 10/5 or Tuesday, 10/6, but this is subject to change as more details become available. If the game does take place on Monday or Tuesday, Patriots QB Cam Newton (who is discussed below) will not play due to his positive COVID diagnosis. While we have chosen to publish this piece in its original format, we would like to emphasize that we do not take lightly the health and safety of all Patriots and Chiefs players, coaches and personnel while we continue to navigate through a global pandemic.


Foreward


Hi, I'm BRaG (for my Chiefs fan handle, BleedingRedAndGold) and I handle the editing at Arrowheadguys.com; my friend likes when I tell the story of how I wound up doing this. To put the "TL;DR" first, I'm a loudmouth with opinions. After the site was founded in '18 (was and still is on a shoestring budget) and I joined up, the managing editor was grousing in the comments about needing content. I jumped at the chance to get my mouth and my thoughts engaged. He asked me if I could get him 1k words by Friday or some-such, to which I bragged "no sweat;" he was politely appreciative.

I had him an even longer article by 5PM that day.

Skipping past the growing pains, one thing that became clear to me was the number of errors in our articles...and again, my mouth got engaged. The managing editor eventually got tired of me and said "fine, you do it." So here I am, editing for a site I believe in. I'm an unpaid volunteer, but I do what I do in support of our (slightly dysfunctional, but duh) little community. That's what the Kingdom has always meant to me, that sense of community.


From KC's Side of the Field: Lauren's Questions for BRaG


Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren) has a conversation with noted Chiefs fanatic BRaG (@BragOriginal) of Bleeding Red and Gold about the upcoming Week 4 matchup between the Patriots and Chiefs. We cross enemy lines to get an inside look at our foe and what they're expecting to see on Sunday:


Q: Because the Chiefs have been used to playing the Patriots with Tom Brady behind center, rather than Cam Newton, but we just saw them dismantle the Ravens (and mobile QB Lamar Jackson), do you see KC using a similar technique against Newton? Will they employ a similar style to shut down Newton and Co.? Or will the KC defense struggle because Newton's been out of the league for a year (with not as much tape available on him as a result)?


A: The same way we did Jackson? No, because say what you will about which of them is the better QB, but Newton's the better passer. It doesn't take extra attention to the sidelines to limit Jackson there, leaving more available for the middle. Newton can throw all the way across the field, so I expect we'll shift things up to match our opponent. I hear tell that's a rather "Belichickian" approach, lol.


Q: KC is stacked with talent. But is there a veteran you feel is overlooked?


A: As much as skill position players are the sexy choice here, no matter where I go, I always return to Mitchell Schwartz. The guy doesn't get highlights for things like pancake blocks, but he's more reliable than the Enterprise's shields when it comes to pass protection. Yes, our O-line struggled against the Los Angeles Chargers, but they didn't last Monday night in our game that was played not so far south of Boston. He's been one heck of a pickup, and I likewise want to give newcomer Kelechi Osemele a nod. Thank you, Jets!


Q: Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman -- goodness. Who plays the bigger role in that game? Does the Patriots D want to cover one more than the other?


A: That's the question every team has to consider with several receivers on our offense, but let's put it this way: you've doubled Travis Kelce and now there's only one more spare DB? Really, the accurate answer is pick your poison, but since teams will have to choose at some point, I'll go with Hill. Both are fast, but Patriots fans have had the opportunity to watch Hill develop into not only a true #1 WR, but also one of the best in the league. The bad news is that Hardman's made progress from last year, as he's improved his routes (particularly his releases) and it's shown.


Q: For Pats fans, is there someone they should be "worried" about? Why? Why not?


A: This is going to sound kinda 'duh,' but bear with me. Patrick Mahomes, but not for the obvious reasons. No, his arm, athleticism and demeanor are all well-known, but what should concern Patriots fans is his mind. Remember that in his first full season, he already had an effective hard count, but if you think about it, he's progressed with phenomenal speed, and that's a product of his mind. It isn't mentioned often, but there are a number of people who've known him that say he has a photographic memory. Now, consider that the scale he's being judged against is other QB's, players who must also have really good memories. This means that he probably remembers every look the Pats' D has ever shown him and what they did out of them. At the risk of stirring up an old, boring story, the point is that he's got his own personal "tapes" to review, and it's only going to get harder to fool him. I'm sure y'all are well aware that he can't be rattled, so the point is that he's extremely smart and has a very good memory. Worry about how he's going to remember all of Belichick's tricks. Worry that, with experience, he'll just keep getting better.


Q: Will this game come down to who gets outcoached?


A: Do not go to sportswriters with such questions, for they will say "well, yes and no." I mean, compare the rosters and say all things are equal. Since they are not, if the Patriots win, it will be on the coaches. It's a KC win where the "yes and no" comes in, and the reason for that is mainly because Mahomes is the product of Andy's coaching. They occasionally finish each other's sentences now, so despite all the raw talent and athleticism, Patrick's really the product of Reid's coaching (and I don't think I need to remind y'all that even back in Philly, he was the QB whisperer). So, if KC wins, is it coaching or execution? The answer is yes, because the one executing is the product of great coaching.


Q: There seems to be a growing "rivalry" between these two teams and rightfully so. It always makes for a good matchup. Two great coaches to go along with the players they have on their teams. Always entertaining, right?


A: Certainly the vibe in KC for years was a certain resentment, but how unusual is that, I ask y'all? In a particularly dismal season, the Patriots came to KC for a MNF game; we were coming off of just losing the peak crowd noise record to Seattle. My wife and I were there, and beating the vaunted Patriots while reclaiming our crowd noise title cemented that night as one of my fondest games at Arrowhead. It wasn't just the game or the record, but rather just the whole experience blended together. Now, we're atop the hill and we get the chance to be the target -- but when playing King of the Hill, what King doesn't taunt a bit?


Q: Do KC fans feel a sort of "cockiness" or a "finally! our time!"? Especially when it comes to the Patriots? What does a win this week do for the fans? Similarly, what would a loss do?


A: The primary feeling in the Kingdom has been one of enjoyment, relief and eagerness to get back there. So yeah, some swagger, some trash talkin', but as for losing on Sunday? I don't think many will see it as all that meaningful. We have our eyes on the prize and a team we can be confident in. Any given Sunday applies in more ways than one, so unless the Chiefs look inept at the end of the game, which they won't, mostly what a loss would mean is that going undefeated is no longer a thing.


Q: BRaG told me he believes lobster and crab are overrated, which, being from Boston, broke my heart a little. So, I just had to know: has he actually ever been to Boston to try the delicacy that is our seafood?


A: Yes, I did say that, to my taste, crab and lobster are overrated, though that's mainly a matter of price. Don't get me wrong, I like them both, but the "prestige" pricing is a bit much for me. Shrimp are more versatile and cost-effective, and I like their taste better, too. Really, that was mostly a friendly jab, but the fact of the matter is that I grew up in Minnesota, so my tastes run more towards freshwater fish. A quarter-century in KC certainly honed my understanding of how to appreciate BBQ, though. Anyways, I know who y'all want to win just as well as you know who I want to win, so I won't belabor the point; we will all find out soon enough. Follow routine precautions and stay healthy out there, friends.


From NE's Side of the Field: BRaG's Questions for Lauren


Q: Right off the bat, my QB questions are: how are the Pats going to use Newton against KC and how does your D plan to stop Mahomes and co.?


A: This is one of the biggest questions going into the game, and rightfully so. We saw the Pats' D struggle early against the Las Vegas Raiders, only to see the Raiders take their first loss of the season. Kansas City certainly slowed down Lamar Jackson during their Week 3 matchup, but Bill Belichick has been known to find a team's weakness and exploit it with the talent he has on his roster.


Will the Pats be able to slow down Patrick Mahomes the way the Chiefs did Jackson? His 898 passing yards and nine touchdowns suggest it'll be a tall task and NE will need to do its best to limit big plays from the Chiefs. The Pats' D certainly isn't what it was last year and has opponents completing 72 percent of their passes against them -- that can't happen with KC.


Q: Who's a young player on each side of the ball that KC fans should keep an eye on, and why?


A: On offense: J.J. Taylor; on defense: Chase Winovich


J.J. Taylor has been a pleasant surprise for NE. He carried the ball 11 times in the Patriots' win over LV for 43 yards. He's also an undrafted rookie -- who doesn't love an underdog story? He's also only 5-foot-6, but was able to get the offense moving in Week 3. He likely won't light up the stat sheet, but he'll certainly be someone to watch out for.


As for Chase Winovich, he's been fun since he arrived last season and is having an incredible start to the 2020 campaign. Winovich is emerging as one of, if not the best edge players in the NFL. ESPN analytics currently rank him second among edge rushers in run stop win rate and sixth in pass rush win rate.


Also, for good measure, Kyle Dugger should be on Chiefs fans' minds, as well. He has the chance to play a big role come Sunday. His playing time has increased since Week 1 and he's drawn some high praise from teammates.


Q: Is there a vet player who you feel has been overlooked this season, and is there one who needs to return to form quickly?


A: Return to form? I'd say Julian Edelman. He hasn't been bad thus far by any means. But we all know how close he and Tom Brady were and the chemistry that they had on the field. Edelman and Newton clearly have chemistry, but the wide receiver has committed some drops on passes he'd normally have. It would also be nice to see him get into the end zone.


As for a veteran who's been overlooked? Rex Burkhead. The running back had three touchdowns last week (and fantasy football owners like me left him on the bench and died a little inside, still won though!). But Burkhead has seen the most snaps this season out of the Patriots' running back group. In fairness, it is easy to overlook him because of the other backs and receivers the Patriots boast. We're also obviously not inside the mind of Bill Belichick, nor are we privy to how he plans to utilize Burkhead. So, we'll have to see if he breaks out again against a tough Chiefs team that's pretty dang good against the run.


Q: What's the general feeling about the KC upstart in Pats nation? Y'all have been King of the Hill for a long time, so it can't be pleasant to see competition for that title.


A: There seems to be a lot of excitement surrounding Week 4. How could there not be? It will be incredibly fun to see how two former League MVP's do going up against each other and how Cam Newton handles the KC defense. Sure, losing is never fun and being on top for the last 20 years has been...well, it's been awesome. If bragging rights and dominance in the NFL are going to go to somewhere else, they might as well go to a stacked team that's proven they've got what it takes (but maybe that's just me).


While it certainly isn't pleasant, and with a lot of the defense leaving in free agency or deciding to opt out, Sunday will be a good test. Plus, us Patriots fans haven't seen anyone except Tom Brady take on KC, so getting to see how Cam does and how the "new-look" Pats handle the Super Bowl champs causes a lot of excitement, rather than resentment.


Q: Presuming you've been to KC, have you tried the BBQ and if so, where? And what were your thoughts about it?


A: Been to a lot of places, but never to KC. But now I've added "try the BBQ in KC" to my bucket list!


- Lauren (@lalalalaurrrren) & BRaG (@BragOriginal)

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