Patriots

How Patrick Mahomes' early return for Chiefs impacts Patriots in AFC race

How Patrick Mahomes' early return for Chiefs impacts Patriots in AFC race

The New England Patriots are in the driver's seat for the AFC's No. 1 seed.

But one team in its rearview mirror may be closer than it appears.

The Kansas City Chiefs announced Friday that star quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is expected to play in their Week 10 game against the Tennessee Titans.

It's a remarkable recovery for Mahomes, who dislocated his knee in Week 7 was expected to miss anywhere from three to five weeks.

Instead, he'll sit out just two games.

The Chiefs currently are tied with the Houston Texans for fourth place in the AFC behind the 8-1 Patriots, 6-2 Baltimore Ravens and 6-2 Buffalo Bills.

But only two of Kansas City's remaining seven games are against teams with winning records -- one of which is New England.

Here are the Patriots' and Chiefs' remaining schedules:

Patriots: at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas, at Houston, vs. Kansas City, at Cincinnati, vs. Buffalo, vs. New York Jets
Chiefs: at Tennessee, at Los Angeles Chargers, vs. Oakland, at New England, at Chicago, vs. LA Chargers

If New England drops one of its next three games -- all of which are against teams above .500 -- and Mahomes leads Kansas City to three straight wins, then the Chiefs could overtake the Patriots in Week 14 with a win at Gillette Stadium.

That scenario obviously assumes a lot. Mahomes may not be 100 percent upon his return, and he went 5-2 as a starter before going down, so Kansas City isn't unbeatable when he plays.

But Mahomes' return seemingly reduces the Patriots' margin for error, and suggests the defending champions should heed the warning Tom Brady issued Thursday night.

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Patriots-Chiefs Preview From Tom E. Curran: Can they keep up with KC?

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USA TODAY Sports photo (left) and AP Images

Patriots-Chiefs Preview From Tom E. Curran: Can they keep up with KC?

Here are some stark numbers. In their past five games going back to their win over the Browns, the Patriots have scored touchdowns just twice in eight goal-to-go situations. In each of the past three games, they’ve failed on their only trips in close. In the red zone over their past five games, they are 8-for-19 scoring touchdowns when they get in the red zone including 2-for-3 last week. They are at 48.98 in red-zone scoring for the season, 24th.  They’ve scored eight offensive touchdowns in the past five games and two of those came late last week when they were swimming upstream against the Texans. 

The point? The Patriots aren’t generating points and this week they go against a Kansas City team which is well-stocked and always a threat to drop 30. Can the Patriots offense keep pace if the New England defense is merely respectable as it was last week against Houston? Or do the Patriots need to get the Chiefs muzzled to have a shot?

 

Report: With Folk back at kicker, Patriots release DT Huggins

Report: With Folk back at kicker, Patriots release DT Huggins

Albert Huggins' stay in New England, which he chronicled on Instagram earlier this week, will apparently be a short one.

Maybe.

To make room on the roster after the re-signing of kicker Nick Folk, Huggins, the defensive tackle claimed off waivers earlier this week from the Philadelphia Eagles was released, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

However, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports that there may be a practice-squad spot available for Huggins, so perhaps his Instagram video wasn't for naught. 

Folk is one of four kickers the Patriots have employed this season, three of them after the season-ending injury to Stephen Gostkowski. Folk was released after having an emergency appendectomy that kept him out of the game last week in Houston. Kai Forbath was signed, becoming kicker No. 4 in 2019, then released after that game.

Folk worked out Friday and was deemed healthy enough to return. He's 7-for-9 on field-goal attempts and 3-for-3 on extra points in three games for New England. 

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