Here are a couple thoughts from the Patriots – Chiefs divisional playoff game.
Three safeties involved
As expected, the Patriots use three safeties on almost all snaps with Patrick Chung lining up in the box close to the line of scrimmage. He is charged with covering tight end Travis Kelce and usually gets help from either Duron Harmon or Devin McCourty. Kelce has been limited to 4 receptions and 10 yards in the first half.
Quick passing game is back
The Patriots have made the Chiefs’ pass rush almost insignificant in the first half and while the offensive line played solid, this is not only their work’s result. With Julian Edelman returning from injury, quarterback Tom Brady trusts his receivers to get open more quickly and therefore does not hang on to the ball long enough for the pass rush to get there.
Tight downfield coverage
While the Patriots may have struggled on intermediate and short play action passes, with the exception of a late Jason Avant reception, their coverage downfield has been excellent. Justin Coleman and Malcolm Butler both had plays where even though the pass was overthrown, they ran stride for stride with the wide receiver they were covering. As a result, Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith threw for only 65 yards in the first half and averaged 3.1 yards per attempt.