After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, American football enthusiasts are absolutely thrilled that Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is now upon us.
To kick off the season, the New England Patriots, who pulled off what can only be described as a miraculous comeback in Super Bowl 51 just seven months ago, will host the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle of two of the AFC’s premier teams.
Depending on where you look, the swell folks in Las Vegas favor the Patriots by eight points over the Chiefs. This makes sense considering New England has home field advantage and is undoubtedly a better overall team than Kansas City.
But being a heavy underdog doesn’t mean Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is incapable of drawing up a brilliant game plan that will catch Bill Belichick’s squad, which is dealing with a number of injuries, off guard.
To do so, however, not only will Reid have to outsmart the Patriots strategically, but he will also need his players to execute with precision, which is something very few NFL teams have been able to do against the Patriots during Belichick’s tenure as head coach.
So, will the Chiefs shock the masses and upset the Patriots in front of the Gillette Stadium faithful, or will Tom Brady and Co. make mincemeat of Kansas City to the delight of fans all over New England?
Find out with these five bold predictions.
Kareem Hunt Runs Roughshod Over Patriots
The Chiefs were dealt a devastating blow this summer when starting running back Spencer Ware was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Now, Kansas City appears to be ready to feature rookie RB Kareem Hunt early and often on Thursday night.
The Chiefs are putting a lot of trust in rookie running back Kareem Hunt. He’ll be their regular featured back in... https://t.co/vgwAQrNB5g— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) September 5, 2017
Although Hunt didn’t play much of a role in the pass attack during college at Toledo, he told ESPN‘s Adam Teicher it was something he worked hard on over the offseason knowing the Chiefs throw to their running backs on a regular basis.
“I definitely was aware that they like to use their running backs in the passing game…. It’s just exciting to be a part of something like this,” Hunt said after a recent practice.
“(The Chiefs get) their running backs in space and catching the ball out of the backfield.”
New England typically features a stout run defense, but it’s not going to matter on Thursday night against the Chiefs as Hunt makes the most of this opportunity on the ground and through the air.
In the end, Hunt will have tallied over 100 all-purpose yards and one TD in his NFL debut.
Tom Brady Throws Two Interceptions
Tom Brady begins the 2017 NFL season at 40-years-old, which means his inevitable demise is on the horizon.
New England did an excellent job trading for wide receiver Brandin Cooks over the offseason, but the absence of Julian Edelman is going to cause problems for Brady against Kansas City.
Expect Brady to fold under overwhelming pocket pressure at times and throw two boneheaded interceptions.
Dee Ford Sacks Tom Brady Twice
With Tamba Hali starting the 2017 NFL season on the PUP-list, OLB Dee Ford projects to build off his 10-sack showing in 2016 and establish himself as one the NFL’s most-feared pass rushers.
Expect Ford to give the Patriots fits all game, sacking Brady no less than two times.
Chris Hogan Tallies 100 Yards, One TD
Perhaps no player was as important to the Patriots pass attack in the playoffs last season as WR Chris Hogan.
How good can Chris Hogan be? Look at his three playoff games last year. When targeting him, Tom Brady was 17-23, 332 yards, 2 TD.— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) August 31, 2017
The aforementioned absence of Julian Edelman means Brady will look for Hogan early and often against the Chiefs. Expect Hogan to be the one skill player Brady can rely on as he electrifies for a minimum of eight receptions, 100 yards and one TD.
Patriots Secure Late Lead, Win By Three Points
As poorly as I expect the Patriots to play at times, picking against them is never an incredibly wise idea. In the end, Brady and Belichick will have miraculously found a way to overcome adversity late in the fourth quarter to cement a three-point victory, and the Chiefs will head home knowing they did everything they could and still lost.
[Featured Image by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]