By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Well, that was ugly.
The Patriots – who up until the fourth quarter last night, some had picked for a 19-0 season – got smoked by the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 42-27, tying the most point given up by a Bill Belichick coached team in New England.
The darlings of the odds-makers in Las Vegas, and by far and away the leader of sports betting sites top picks for this season to repeat, the defending champs looked like chumps at times in their season opener.
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady looked lost sometimes without his security blanket Julien Edelman in the slot. And when Danny Amendola – who has a long history of health issues – went down in the fourth quarter with a concussion, the once mighty Pats offense became a series of seemingly hail Mary passes that rarely succeeded. QB12’s stat line of 16 for 36, 276 yards and zero touchdowns, tell the story of how inefficient New England’s offense was for most of the night.
However, if the offense was sputtering, the defense was downright dying. Other than a fumble on his first carry in the NHL, rookie running back Kareem Hunt at their lunch, compiling an NFL record 239 total yards by a first-year player. And it was Alex Smith, who surprisingly looked like the MVP at the quarter back position, slicing up the Pats secondary for 368 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 80% of his passes on his way to a QB rating of 148.6.
I’m pretty sure that many of those who began their tailgating in the early afternoon, left Gillette Stadium after the game, sober as a judge.
So, what does this game say about the season going forward? Absolutely nothing. I’m sure Patriots fans won’t forget when in 2014, another Andy Reid coached Chiefs’ squad embarrassed Belichick and Brady 41-14 on national TV, prompting ESPN’s Trent Dilfer to famously say, “”Let’s face it: They’re not good anymore. They’re weak.” And, as Dilfer hears from every fan from New England he meets, all they did is go and win their fourth Lombardi Trophy some five months later.
And the blip on the radar doesn’t seem to have affected the sportsbooks opinion of them either. According to odds makers like Bovada, TheSpread.com and other betting sites listed at Sports Betting Dime, they still have the Hoodie’s boys head and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of being a favorite to once again win three out of four titles for the second time in the 17-year reign of Brady and Belichick over the NFL.
As he has shown in the past, September games are like an extended training camp for Belichick. Given the way the players are wrapped in plastic wrap – as opposed as hard they had to work in the first part of the Pats dynasty – due to CBA regulations on padded practices, and the what they are put threw in training camp when it comes to physicality, it is very likely he is still figuring out what he has to work with.
And for as bad as the defense looked against the Chiefs on Thursday night, how he fills the massive hole he has at slot receiver with Edelman gone for the season might just be the biggest conundrum facing the NFL’s greatest coach ever. For the few who thought, Amendola might be able to shoulder some of the load in his best buddy’s absence; the injury-prone part-time model showed that he tends to break down far too often to do so.
Sure, the Pats unpredicted loss on opening night has shown some cracks in the frame of what many thought was a wagon that would simply roll through the regular season. However, to the disappointment of the rest of the league, they have the best mechanic to ever coach football in their garage, and he still has 16 more weeks to fine-tune the engine.