With the Patriots' offense struggling, the team faces a tough task on Monday night in Kansas City, one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. The Chiefs aren't the group they were a season ago, when they began the year 9-0 and finished 11-5, but we could say the same thing about the Pats.
Which is why Tom Brady's evening would go a lot smoother if New England's defense was able to get off the field. One of the many early season storylines is whether Darrelle Revis has lost a step both literally and in terms of his annual status as the league's best cornerback.
"At corner, guys are going to make plays," Revis said last week. "This is the NFL. It’s not like we are playing against high school players or any talent that is less. Some of the greatest athletes in the world play this game. Sometimes they make plays, sometimes you make plays."
Fair enough. But the plan against the Chiefs will be to limit the deep ball -- and by extension -- the big plays.
"As a secondary as a whole, deep balls will kill you," Revis continued. "They kill you on defense. So double moves in the high red area, usually [means] teams go for the end zone and try and take a chance. We’ve been doing great so far and we just have to continue to be consistent in that area."
For what it's worth: Revis might not be the player he once was, say, four years ago, but he's still part of the NFL's best defense. Through three weeks, the unit ranked first overall (1st against the pass, 18th against the run), according to Football Outsiders.
So while thwarting the deep ball might be on the to-do list, slowing up the Chiefs' running game will be critical too.
"We are preparing like [Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles] is going to play," defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said, via ESPN.com. "If he doesn't play, he doesn't play. They didn't miss a beat last week without him, so this is a team that wants to run the football and that's what they do. They are built to run the ball. They have explosive guys at the skill positions. We have to be able to stop all of them."
And even if Charles can't go, Knile Davis proved he could be an explosive alternative last week against the Dolphins.
"A big, strong, powerful running back that can hit you anywhere on the field. He's a bigger guy but he is fast," Wilfork said of Davis.
"They both run downhill," Wilfork said of Charles and Davis. "They both test the edges. They both catch the ball out of the backfield. They both block. So they are built differently but at the same time they run hard like a big back. The big guy has speed and the small guy has toughness.
"They are kind of similar when you look at them like that, but Charles, there are not too many guys faster than him. We have to do a real good job up front of playing well in the run game and pass game because they use him so much everywhere on the field."