Patriots-Chiefs preview: Brady and Gronkowski need to start rolling - Metro US

Patriots-Chiefs preview: Brady and Gronkowski need to start rolling

Tom Brady and the Patriots offense weren't clicking again last Sunday against Oakland. Credit: Getty Images Tom Brady and the Patriots offense weren’t clicking again last Sunday against Oakland. Credit: Getty Images

One could easily make a case that the Patriots had the most unimpressive 2-1 record in the league entering Week 4 play. Neither of the Pats’ two victories thus far have been “impressive” as the Vikings were without their best player in Week 2 and the Raiders looked a whole lot like the Raiders in Week 3, but the Patriots were somewhat lucky to walk away with a “W” at home against Oakland.

Kansas City, the Pats’ opponent Monday (8:30 p.m., ESPN), has also gotten off to a rough start after making the postseason last year. The Chiefs (1-2) fell to the Titans in Week 1 and at Denver in Week 2 before rebounding against the Dolphins last week.

A few things to keep tabs on:

Four score
Week 4 has been something of a turning point for the Patriots offense in the last two seasons. In Week 4 of 2013, the Pats ripped off their best offensive outing of the season up to that point, scoring 30 points in a win over the Falcons. They had scored an average of just 19.6 points in the first three games.

In 2012, things clicked early as the offense averaged 27.3 points per game in the first three games of that season. But the Pats’ performance in Week 4 of that season made the first three outings look weak by comparison as Tom Brady and Co. carved up the Bills in Buffalo, scoring 52 points in victory.

The Pats have averaged 22.0 points per game through three games this season.

Extra help
Brady’s unspectacular play to start the season has been well-chronicled. But Brady certainly needs to start getting some help from his main targets. Rob Gronkowski has also been average since returning from injury as he has a total of 11 catches, 116 yards receiving and two touchdowns on the year. In two of his first three games back from injury last season, Gronk went over 100 yards receiving.

Brady looked Gronkowski’s way plenty in the Week 1 loss to the Dolphins, targeting the tight end 11 times, but against Minnesota and Oakland, No. 87 was targeted just six times each time out.

Line ’em up
Keep an eye on the trench battles on Monday night. The Patriots offensive line was trashed all of last week, but the demise of the Logan Mankins-less unit may be slightly exaggerated. Through three games in 2013, Brady was sacked seven times. Through three games this season, same deal. Brady has been sacked seven times.

On the defensive side of the ball, Vince Wilfork’s play has improved after the Week 1 stinker on South Beach, so much so that the Patriots ranked 12th in the league in rush defense as of Sunday. Somewhat surprisingly, the Pats ranked No. 1 overall in opponent passing yards, allowing just 168.7 yards per game.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS

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