Chiefs @ Patriots
Friday 8th September, 1:30am (UK time).
|Chiefs @ Patriots||
The New England Patriots, who won the Super Bowl last year in an epic 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Though the Pats did lose Julian Edelman, Tom Brady’s favourite receiver, to injury, they picked up an excellent replacement in Brandon Cooks. Cooks’ superior athletic ability could make him an even better target for Brady this year. New England also lost LeGarrette Blount to free agency, but they have young replacements such as Dion Lewis and James White to pick up the slack.
The Chiefs haven’t really changed much at all since last season, when they finished 12-4 and won the AFC West. They're led by Alex Smith and studs Tyreke Hill and Travis Kelce as his receivers. Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West will share backfield duties. The team retained defensive menaces Justin Houston and Eric Berry, indicating that they will once again lean on these men to lead them to victory.
Although Kansas City’s ground-and-pound offense isn’t too dissimilar to New England’s, this will work against them on the road. Expect them to keep it within a touchdown for the first half before the Patriots pull away in the second. Tom Brady will pick this defense apart with Gronkowski up the middle and Cooks on the outside, and his running backs will add a nice change of pace.
Raiders @ Titans
Sunday 10th September, 6pm (UK time).
|Raiders @ Titans||
The Raiders haven’t experienced much success since the 1990s, but new faces such as Derrick Carr, Kalil Mack, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree have turned this team into an overnight contender. That doesn’t even include Marshawn Lynch, who they lured out of retirement and placed firmly into the first spot on their depth chart. Oakland’s aerial attack was already efficient before adding Lynch, but Beast Mode will complement Carr very nicely. On the defensive side, they added former Seahawk Bruce Irvin at outside linebacker to support Mack, who racked up 73 tackles, 11 sacks, and five forced fumbles last season. The fifth-year defensive end has made a case for himself as the best defensive player in the league today.
The Titans have also experienced a surge of youth on their team, but they've supplemented these youngsters with proven veterans to balance out their roster. DeMarco Murray, who put up incredible numbers with the Dallas Cowboys, continued his dominance of the NFL with the Titans last year by compiling nearly 1300 yards and nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, Tennessee upgraded at wide receiver by drafting Corey Davis out of Western Michigan and picking up veteran Eric Decker from the Jets. At tight end, Delanie Walker continues to be a solid option for Marcus Mariota.
Both of these teams have explosive offenses, but Oakland’s has played together longer and has more talented young players. Mariota and Davis just can’t dominate games like Carr and Cooper can. The return of Lynch will play a key factor, but expect him to run for close to 100 yards on a weak Titans defense.