Burke: Patriots are the hunted, but shouldn't be haunted by 2014 Chiefs game - Metro US

Burke: Patriots are the hunted, but shouldn’t be haunted by 2014 Chiefs game

Tamba Hali breaks up a pass intended for Brandon LaFell in September of 2014.
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On the list of scenarios the Patriots could have encountered coming out of this past weekend, the one they got is the worst.

No, the Chiefs aren’t world-beaters, and the Patriots will be favored when they host KC this coming Saturday (4:35 p.m., CBS). But because a couple of Bengals players used Manziel-like judgment in the final few minutes this past Saturday night, the Patriots will be playing a team in five days that beat them like a drum, 41-14, the last time they met.

“The Chiefs game” made for a neat turning point chapter in the Patriots’ 2014 championship DVD. The Pats used that blowout loss as fuel, they said, and it was a reminder of everything that can go wrong during the course of a football game.

But fuel can be a little overrated. I’ll bet that Malcolm Butler wasn’t thinking about that dark night at Arrowhead just before he made that interception against the Seahawks. I’ll bet Tom Brady wasn’t thinking about that pick-6 he threw to Husain Abdullah in “The Chiefs game” on Super Bowl Sunday against Seattle.

There are lessons to take away from “The Chiefs game,” for sure. But the fact of the matter is, that game was 468 days ago.

What the Chiefs did against the Texans in Houston this past Saturday and what the Patriots did not do against the Dolphins eight days ago is much more relevant when talking about this upcoming divisional showdown in Foxboro.

Pro football these days changes from hour-to-hour and day-to-day, nevermind year-to-year, and the Chiefs are a much different team today than they were on Sept. 29, 2014. In fact, Kansas City is a much different team today than it was on Sept. 29, 2015.

This is a team that lost five straight games early on this season. Their featured running back today, Charcandrick West, did not even have one NFL carry to his name until Oct. 4, 2015. Their quarterback, Alex Smith, went an unreal 659 days without throwing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver – a streak that was broken in late September. The man who caught that touchdown pass, Jeremy Maclin, ended up catching eight touchdowns from Smith during the regular season and was Kansas City’s leading receiver in 2015 – with 87 grabs for 1,088 yards. In an effort to show just how much things can change, Maclin was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles on the night of “The Chiefs game.” He was Smith’s biggest offensive weapon heading into last Saturday night’s game against the Texans. It was thought he might miss the rest of the playoffs late Saturday night when it was feared he might have torn an ACL. On Sunday afternoon, it was said he suffered a high ankle sprain and that he is “questionable” against the Patriots. Tomorrow, he’ll probably be “probable.”

Relying on past information to predict the future is what we do. I get that. It would be mighty easy to predict that Tom Brady will perform well in this coming Saturday’s game, just as it would be easy to predict that Andy Reid will all of a sudden think that there are 50 seconds in a minute (he doesn’t manage clocks very well if you hadn’t heard).

But the Patriots are the most unpredictable team in the history of sports this time of year (no one thought much of Danny Amendola one year ago and LeGarrette Blount two years ago) and the Chiefs will undoubtedly be vague about Maclin this week. They will also not provide an answer as to why Spencer Ware carried the ball 16 times against Houston and why West carried it just eight times.

This league changes on the fly (Tom Coughlin coached against the Eagles eight days ago and Monday he’ll interview with them in hopes of becoming their new leader), and we are just now entering strange season.

It’s time to get weird. Enjoy it.

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