There will be comparisons. Oh, there will be comparisons. And video montages. And headlines resurrected.
But is this year's Chiefs team, the one that will arrive at Gillette Stadium for a Divisional Round matchup on Jan. 16, similar to the one that beat up on the Patriots in Week 4 of last season?
It was a defining loss for last year's Super Bowl champions. For some of the players, it was the most embarrassing loss of their professional careers, their warts exposed on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience.
Much has changed since that 41-14 drubbing, though. The Patriots settled on an offensive line that worked well together and went on to win 10 of their next 11, earning the top seed in the AFC and setting them up for their postseason run. The Chiefs finished 9-7 and out of the playoff picture.
This season, the Chiefs and Patriots are two teams that wrapped things up headed in opposite directions. Kansas City won its last 10 regular-season games, while New England lost four of their final six.
After the Bengals fell to the Steelers on Saturday night, the both sides know there is a rematch of sorts in the works for next Saturday. Let the comparisons begin, but this Chiefs team, in many ways, looks different than the one that the Patriots saw 16 months ago.
Kansas City is still rolling with Alex Smith at quarterback with a system overseen by head coach Andy Reid, but the team's skill positions have undergone significant turnover. Receiver Dwayne Bowe is out after an abysmal 2014 campaign, and he was replaced in free agency by No. 1 wideout Jeremy Maclin. Though Maclin proved to be a tough cover and a dependable outside-the-numbers threat with Smith delivering the football, he suffered a knee injury on Saturday that could thrust rookie wideout Chris Conley into a more significant role. Tight end Travis Kelce, who caught eight passes for 128 yards in Kansas City's Wild Card win on Saturday, would be the Chiefs top option in the passing game if Maclin is limited or out. He caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots in their meeting last season while matched up primarily with New England safeties. At running back, Jamaal Charles suffered a torn ACL during the regular season that pressed Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware into the spotlight. West (3.9 yards per carry) has been the more frequently-used back in Charles' absence, but it's Ware (5.3 yards per carry) who has been the more efficient runner. Neither has the playmaking ability possessed by Charles, but both hold onto the football. They've combined to fumble just once in 256 total carries this season. Scheme-wise, the Chiefs are still a grind-it-out offense that doesn't rely on deep shots to pick up chunks of yardage at a time, but the receivers and backs they'll chip away with are a different-looking group than the one that gashed Matt Patricia's defense a year ago.
The Chiefs were one of the toughest teams to score on last season, and while some of their personnel has changed, they remain very stingy. Last year they finished second in the league in terms of points allowed per game (17.6), and this year they are third in that category (17.9). In the secondary is where things have changed the most as compared to last year's Week 4 win over the Patriots. Kansas City's first-round pick Marcus Peters has been one of the most productive corners in the NFL this season with nine interceptions and 17 passes defensed. When targeted, he has allowed a quarterback rating of 67.7, according to Pro Football Focus. That's the eighth-best mark in the league among corners who have played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps, placing him ahead of players like Seattle's Richard Sherman and Denver's Aqib Talib. Safety Eric Berry missed last year's meeting with the Patriots due to an injured ankle, and he was treated for Hodgkin lymphoma beginning late last season, but he quickly re-established himself as one of the best in the league at his position this year. He played in 1,052 snaps this season and has been named a First-Team All-Pro. Pass-rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston dominated a shoddy Patriots offensive line at different points in their meeting last year -- Hali's third-quarter strip-sack of Tom Brady helped put the game away -- but both have been hampered by injuries of late. Hali is dealing with injuries to his thumb and knee that limited him to 15 snaps in Saturday's Wild Card game. Houston suffered a knee injury on Nov. 29 and returned to action on Saturday, playing in 44 of a possible 64 snaps and registering a quarterback hit and two quarterback hurries. The Chiefs are stout on the interior with big bodies Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard serving as disruptive forces. Howard has become much more of a factor as a pass-rusher this season with six sacks and 29 hurries after recording two sacks and 11 hurries last season.