Patriots, Chiefs hit the road for battles of NFL unbeatens
New York (AFP) –
Tom Brady leads reigning Super Bowl champion New England into Buffalo for a battle of undefeated NFL clubs on Sunday while Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City visit fellow unbeaten Detroit.
The Patriots boast the top defensive unit in the league, having surrendered only 5.7 points a game in their 3-0 start. New England has the first NFL defense since 1970 not to allow an offensive touchdown in the first three games. Opponents haven't scored in the first half.
"We respect what the Patriots have been able to do," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "If you don't watch and learn from other people, especially those who have been the best, and they are the defending champs, then you are ignorant to a model out there."
The Bills are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2011, when they flopped to finish 6-10, while Kansas City carries a 3-0 mark into Detroit to face the Lions, 2-0 with a draw.
Brady has been limited in workouts, the 42-year-old quarterback with a record six Super Bowl titles admitting the years are starting to catch up with him.
"Football is a contact sport. I wouldn't say I'm a spring chicken anymore," Brady said. "I'm trying to just feel as great as I can and we'll see how it goes tomorrow."
Limiting his efforts in workouts prompted the Patriots to add free agent quarterback Cody Kessler this week, with rookie Jarrett Stidham at times being asked to handle the first-team offensive unit in place of Brady while also directing the scout team that runs Buffalo's plays for Patriot defenders to practice against.
Brady will face a Buffalo defensive side that ranks second in the NFL in fewest points allowed at 15.7 a game.
"This will be the toughest game we've faced and we're going to have to play a great game," Brady said. "We've got to execute early. Starting fast, which we've actually done a good job with all year, is really important this week."
The Bills made their first playoff appearance since 1999 under McDermott after going 9-7 in 2017, his first campaign as coach, but Buffalo slid to 6-10 last year. They see the Patriots as a model of what they hope to build.
"We've moved from where the meter was from when we first got here in a lot of ways," McDermott said. "I'm confident that's mostly driven by the people that our culture has changed. Still with work to do, but I'm confident we've moved that meter."
- Brady 'is a beast' -
Brady has won 14 times in Buffalo as a starter.
"Look at his stats. Look at what he's been able to do for 20 years. He's a beast," Bills safety Micah Hyde said. "You've got to give him all the credit. I'm not going to be playing into my 40s, I can tell you that."
Mahomes will make his first NFL regular-season appearance indoors at Detroit's Ford Field. He went 1-3 indoors in games while at college and threw a touchdown pass in a pre-season indoor contest at Atlanta.
"Other than if it's raining or snowing outside, I don't think it makes too big a difference," Mahomes said. "When you get out there, you still have to make the throws... it feels just like any other football game.
"You just make sure you're ready to have success whatever the elements or circumstances are."
Mahomes has picked apart teams that are unable to pressure him while the Lions have blitzed on only 15.6 percent of quarterback dropbacks this season, the second-fewest pressure rushes of any NFL club.
- Chiefs are quick -
Kansas City's overall team speed keeps Lions coach Matt Patricia cautious.
"This is one of the fastest teams I've seen," he said. "Obviously, their skill players -? whether it's the wide receivers, the backs, the tight ends -- they all push the ball vertically very fast. They have some great schemes."
Sunday's other NFL games find Tennessee at Atlanta, Cleveland at Baltimore, Carolina at Houston, Oakland at Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Chargers at Miami, Washington at the New York Giants, Seattle at Arizona, Minnesota at Chicago, Jacksonville at Denver, Tampa Bay at the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams and undefeated Dallas at New Orleans. Winless Pittsburgh and Cincinnati meet Monday.
© 2019 AFP