Patriots

Ex-NFL star explains why he likes Patriots' chances of beating Chiefs

Ex-NFL star explains why he likes Patriots' chances of beating Chiefs

The New England Patriots are betting favorites for Sunday's Week 14 matchup versus the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium, but that hasn't stopped a ton of people from picking against the defending Super Bowl champions.

One person who likes the Patriots' chances this weekend is former NFL star Brian Westbrook, who spent much of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and lost to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX.

“This is what I know about the New England Patriots at home -- they’ve won 21 straight, including the playoffs, going back to last year," Westbrook said Wednesday on FOX Sports 1 show "First Things First." "They’re really good at home. This year, that defense has only given up two touchdowns with seven interceptions, so they get at the quarterback. They attack the football. The last three quarterbacks that have played there in New England have only averaged 189 yards passing in the football game. That’s how good that defense is at home, in particular.

"When you talk about Mahomes-Brady, you certainly have to factor in the defense they’re playing. I have no faith in Kansas City and this new defense that has produced a bunch of turnovers. Tyrann Mathieu has been great. However, I’m not sure they can do that going on the road, going into Foxboro and winning there. That’s a different thing for that football team. I’m not so sure that I would take Mahomes over Brady. In fact, I would take Brady over Mahomes in this matchup ... based on the defense.”

The Patriots haven't lost at Gillette Stadium since Week 4 of the 2017 campaign. This run of 21 consecutive home wins includes a 43-40 win over the Chiefs in Week 6 of last season. The Patriots also beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in last season's AFC Championship Game before winning Super Bowl LIII two weeks later.

For the Patriots to improve to 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs teams, they need Tom Brady and his offense to play a lot better than we've seen over the last several weeks. The Patriots scored 30-plus points in six of their first seven games. However, they haven't crossed the 30-point mark since a Week 7 win over the New York Jets. New England has averaged only 18 points scored over the last four games.

The schedule got a lot tougher and the Patriots offense has seen its production and execution suffer. Injuries and new additions still learning the offense have been factors in the offense's decline, but New England's margin for error is razor thin right now.

The Patriots already have lost control of the race for the AFC's No. 1 seed, and they only lead the Buffalo Bills by a single game for first place in the AFC East. A loss to the Chiefs would put the Patriots in a situation where they're in real danger of not earning a first-round playoff bye. The Chiefs would not earn a first-round bye if the season ended today, but a victory over the Patriots would move Kansas City to within a game of a top-two seed.

With so much at stake in Foxboro on Sunday, this Patriots-Chiefs matchup could be the most intense game of the 2019 season so far.

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Sources: Tom Brady and family preparing to leave New England

Sources: Tom Brady and family preparing to leave New England

Tom Brady doesn't officially become a free agent until the new league year begins on March 18, but the rumors are already flying about the New England Patriot quarterback's future.

A report surfaced earlier in the week that Brady and his family purchased a home in Greenwich, Connecticut. As NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran pointed out, that is false.

But that doesn't mean Brady isn't planning on making a move.

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Thursday night on "Arbella Early Edition," Gary Tanguay revealed that a source told him Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen are looking to leave New England.

"I was told today by a source the family is planning to leave the area," Tanguay said. "The priority this time is to let the kids finish school this year, then they're gone."

Tanguay's report doesn't mean Brady is definitely leaving New England, but talks of him and his family looking to live somewhere else continue to gain steam.

If Brady indeed is moving on from New England and looking to start a new chapter, some of that could do with his desire to finally make the money he's worth in free agency.

According to Tanguay, Brady is "embarrassed" by the number of quarterbacks in the league that make more than him and has been fed up about it dating back to the summer, before he signed his contract extension.

Thirteen quarterbacks, including Brady's former backups Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, make more on average annually than the six-time Super Bowl champion according to overthecap.com.

The truth is, we won't know for certain what's going through Brady's mind until the ink is on paper for the 42-year-old's new contract. Until then, it's going to be a stressful offseason for Patriots fans.

Curran: Is this newfound time a silver lining for Patriots?

Patriots Talk Podcast: What exactly are the Patriots up to right now?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: What exactly are the Patriots up to right now?

Needless to say, it's unusual for the New England Patriots to have so much down time in January. Typically, they're playing in the AFC Divisional Round. And the AFC Championship Game. And often, the Super Bowl.

But this year, they were eliminated in the Wild Card Round for the first time since 2009. And now, they have a lot of time on their hands.

And while their early playoff exit was surely discouraging, the Patriots could stand to benefit from this extra time.

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On the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed how the Patriots could utilize the extra time and the positive impact it could have on the organization.

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Curran pointed out that because the team has so often been playing into February, their already thin staff has been stretched thin come draft season, which explains why the team has had some draft misses in recent seasons.

Really, it comes down to 312 days of prepreparation were sacrifice. And so for a bare bones organization in terms of both front office and coaching staff -- these guys have had shorter offseasons by a month on average than any other team in the NFL.

So on one hand, it's remarkable and it's a high-class problem. On the other hand, isn't it somewhat inevitable that you might have some draft swings and misses?

Perry agreed with Curran and brought up that the fact that the extra time off will give Belichick a real chance to thoroughly evaluate his roster.

I think for a team that is looking at a reboot, one of the sort of ironic things about that is that now you have time to really think that through in more detail and not to say that Bill Belichick isn't planning or looking at his roster, how it's constructed, how the contracts set up and trying to plan ahead. I'm sure he is doing that to a certain extent.

But you can only spend so much time on those things when you're getting ready for the divisional round, the AFC Championship Game every year, the Super Bowl every other year.

This surely makes sense and is definitely a positive for the Patriots. Perhaps with that extra time, Belichick can find a way to retain Tom Brady while significantly upgrading his supporting cast.

For more on the Patriots offseason plans, potential changes in their front office, and predictions for the AFC and NFC Championship Games, check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.