Each week, my staff and I will do a roundtable discussion about the upcoming game. These will include score predictions and a few bold predictions. Let's hit it.
Score: Patriots 34, Chiefs 17
There's just no way the Patriots lose at home on a night when the team is raising it's fifth Super Bowl banner and Roger Goodell is in the house.
Without Julian Edelman, I'm interested to see who Tom Brady's main target is. My guess is it will be Chris Hogan, who was great for the Pats last year and can play on the outside and in the slot. It will also be fun to see how the Pats use Brandin Cooks. Even though he's known as a deep threat, would it shock you if they mix it up with him and have him run short-yardage routes? The return of Gronk is another big story line, and he's best when he's got room in the open field. I'd expect a lot of him over the middle. Look for Rex Burkhead and James White to have big games as pass-catchers tonight as well, as the Chiefs boast a stout front-seven that is tough to run on.
Defensively, my biggest question is who covers Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce? Bill Belichick doesn't always put his best guy on his opponent's best guy, so I think you might see Eric Rowe getting a lot of time on Hill with safety help over the top. As far as Kelce goes, Patrick Chung is probably the go-to here, as he's been the primary security blanket for opposing tight ends in the past. Depending on the situation, Stephon Gilmore could see some action against Kelce too.
It may be a bit sloppy in the early going, but the Patriots will figure it out somewhat quickly if not right away and walk out 1-0.
Score: Patriots 31, Chiefs 21
What a way to kick off the season! After raising the banner right before the game, I think the team will be hyped up and raring to go. Expect New England to jump out to an early lead, fueled by a couple long catches by Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks. Tyreek Hill could give the defense some trouble underneath and on the outside, but as long as Bill Belichick can gameplan for him effectively (expect a lot of safety help over the top), the rest of the Chiefs offense lacks his vertical explosiveness. I think the Pats take a lead into the locker rooms and never look back.
Jake Scearbo Score: Patriots 31, Chiefs 17
The Pats offense will shine bright like the hundreds of diamonds on the 5 Super Bowl rings. The Pats defense will stifle the Chiefs at times with their talent and control the game from the start. The Pats veterans will have the team ready for primetime.
Johnny O Score: Patriots 38, Chiefs 13
At first glance, this game is strength vs. strength. Kansas City wants to be known for their strong defense, while the Patriots boast the most potent attack in the league. That matchup will be fun to watch, and will probably decide the game. Something has got to give. I think the Chiefs will try to press their coverage and beat up the receivers at the line. Look for Brady to take his shots down the field. I’m particularly hoping to see one launched to Brandin Cooks.