Opponent Preview: Get to Know the Patriots

Here’s a quick guide to familiarize yourself with the Patriots

The No. 2-seeded New England Patriots (12-4) will host the No. 5-seeded Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) this Saturday at 3:35 p.m. CT from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots are coming off of a first-round bye.

Bill Belichick has coached the Patriots since 2000 and is 22-9 during the playoffs in his head-coaching career. He has won 4 Super Bowls (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX and XLIX) in New England.

Belichick complimented the Chiefs during his conference call with the local Kansas City media this week.

"I don't think there's a hotter team in the league right now," Belichick said. "Obviously Coach [Andy] Reid and his staff have done a great job, playing really well in all three phases of the game, so a lot of great team efforts here over the last three months, and they just do a lot of things well.

"They do a great job with ball security, turnovers, taking advantage of opportunities, creating opportunities. They have big-play players, a lot of guys in different roles that have been stepping up for them. It's a really good football team and they're playing well."

Here's a look at the Patriots coaching staff:

Patriots Coaching Staff

Position

Name

Head Coach

Bill Belichick

Offensive Coordinator

Josh McDaniels

Defensive Coordinator

Matt Patricia

Special Teams Coordinator

Dave DeGuglielmo

The Patriots offense begins with quarterback Tom Brady, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and a three-time Super Bowl MVP.

Brady has played in 29 career playoff games, compiling 7,345 yards passing, 53 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. His completion percentage in last year's playoffs, 68.9 percent, was the best of his career.

"Playing against [the Chiefs] this week, I'm going to have to watch a lot of film," Brady said. "There is a lot to cover. There is a lot they do schematically, and then for us, it's just how we're going to be able to execute at a higher level than we've executed the last couple months. That's all we've been talking about is figuring out ways to get solid execution. And there is no magic ingredient. You've just got to go do it. Everyone has to do their job at a high level, awareness has to be high, and we've got to figure out how to score some points."

011315-PatsOffense-ia.jpg

During last six games of the season, the Patriots compiled a 2-4 record, with losses to the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. But that stretch was without wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is expect to return Saturday after missing the last seven games.

Edelman was the recipient of a combined 88 targets (9.8 per game) in the 9 games he played in 2015 before breaking his foot against the New York Giants in Week 10.

"When we practice today, we'll put out the status of the players based on what they're doing in practice and we'll see how that goes," said Belichick on Tuesday when asked for an update.

In Edelman's absence, tight end Rob Gronkowski became all the more important. He led the Patriots with 72 receptions for 1,176 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.

There have been a number of key injuries for the Patriots offense in 2015, and that could affect their success in the playoffs. The three key losses were to running backs Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount and left tackle Nate Solder. Lewis tore his ACL in Week 9, Blount injured his hip in Week 14 and Solder tore his bicep during Week 5.

"It's hard to predict going into the year," Brady added. "You have depth at certain positions, like at the tackle spots for us, and then that goes away real quickly once you have major injuries like we had. It's been obviously a challenge week to week trying to figure out how we're going to move the ball down the field and score points, especially when you play good defenses, it's very challenging."

RBs Brandon Bolden and Steven Jackson have combined to fill in for Lewis and Blount. Bolden averaged 3.3 yards per attempt in 2015.

Here's a look at the unofficial offensive depth chart for the Patriots:

New England Patriots Offensive Depth Chart (Unofficial)

POS

FIRST

SECOND

THIRD

WR

Danny Amendola

Brandon LaFell

Matthew Slater

LT

Sebastian Vollmer

Cameron Fleming

LG

Shaq Mason

Josh Kline

C

Bryan Stork

David Andrews

RG

Josh Kline

Tre' Jackson

RT

Marcus Cannon

LaAdrian Waddle

TE

Rob Gronkowski

Scott Chandler

Michael Williams

WR

Julian Edelman

Keshawn Martin

Chris Harper

QB

Tom Brady

Jimmy Garoppolo

RB

James White

RB

Brandon Bolden

Steven Jackson

Here's a look at the Patriots numbers and ranks so far this season on offense:

Offense

Chiefs

Patriots

Net Yards Per Game

331.2 (27th)

374.4 (6th)

Yards Per Play

5.55 (12th)

5.71 (6th)

Points Per Game

25.3 (9th)

29.1 (3rd)

Possession Average

30:55 (13th)

30:13 (18th)

Net Rushing Yards Per Game

127.8 (6th)

87.8 (30th)

Net Passing Yards Per Game

203.4 (30th)

286.7 (5th)

Had Intercepted/Yards

7/116

7/181

Sacks Allowed/Yards

46/-238.0 (T-26th)

38/-225.0 (19th)

Fumbles/Lost

16/8

14/7

Third Down Pct.

38.2 (T-19th)

40.9 (11th)

Red Zone TC Pct.

57.4% (14th)

65.6% (4th)

Giveaways

15 (2nd)

14 (1st)

The Patriots rank as the No. 9 defense in the league, allowing 339.4 yards per game. The Patriots have taken the ball away from opposing teams 21 times during the course of the 2015 regular season.

Third-year cornerback Logan Ryan had a breakout season for the Patriots, leading the team in tackles (58) and interceptions (4).

011315-LoganRyan-ia.jpg

Defensive end Chandler Jones led the Patriots front seven with 12.5 sacks, but pressure comes from all angles in coordinator Matt Patricia's defense, as 13 players have recorded at least 1 sack for their unit this season.

The Patriots have sacked opposing quarterbacks 49 times for a total of 358 yards.

CB Malcolm Butler, the hero of last year's Super Bowl, will be another Patriots defender to watch against the Chiefs offense. Butler finished just behind Ryan in tackles with 56.

Similar to the return of WR Julian Edelman on offense, the return of LB Dont'a Hightower will be critical for the Patriots on defense. Hightower missed Weeks 16 and 17 due to a knee injury. Safety Devin McCourty, another key player for the Patriots, returned in Week 17 after dealing with a high-ankle sprain, but the week of rest during the first-round bye should help him against the Chiefs.

Here's a look at the unofficial defensive depth chart for the Patriots:

New England Patriots Defensive Depth Chart (Unofficial)

POS

FIRST

SECOND

THIRD

FOURTH

LDE

Rob Ninkovich

Akiem Hicks

Geneo Grissom

DT

Alan Branch

Sealver Siliga

DT

Malcom Brown

Ishmaa'ily Kitchen

RDE

Chandler Jones

Jabaal Sheard

LB

Jamie Collins

Jon Bostic

LB

Jerod Mayo

Jonathan Freeny

LB

Dont'a Hightower

Darius Fleming

Dekoda Watson

LCB

Malcolm Butler

Justin Coleman

RCB

Logan Ryan

Leonard Johnson

S

Patrick Chung

Duron Harmon

Jordan Richards

S

Devin McCourty

Tavon Wilson

Nate Ebner

Brandon King

Here's a look at the Patriots numbers and ranks so far this season on defense:

Defense

Chiefs

Patriots

Net Yards Per Game

329.3 (7th)

339.4 (9th)

Yards Per Play

5.08 (6th)

5.21 (7th)

Points Per Game

17.9 (3rd)

19.7 (10th)

Net Rushing Yards/Game

98.2 (8th)

98.8 (9th)

Net Passing Yards Per Game

231.1 (9th)

240.7 (17th)

Intercepted By/Yards

22/477

12/176

Sacks For/Yards

47/-290.0 (4th)

49/-358.0 (2nd)

Opponent Fumbles/Lost

19/7

28/9

Third Down Pct.

33.2% (2nd)

37.3% (10th)

Red Zone TD Pct.

60.0% (T-21st)

57.1% (T-16th)

Takeaways

29 (5th)

21 (T-22nd)

Finally, here's a side-by-side comparison of the individual statistical leaders for both teams: 

Chiefs

* *

Patriots

Passing Yards

Smith

3,486

Brady

4,770

Rushing Yards

West

634

Bolden

207

Smith

498

White

56

Ware

403

Brady

53

Receiving Yards

Maclin

1,088

Gronkowski

1,176

Kelce

875

Edelman

692

Wilson

451

Amendola

648

Points Scored

Santos

129

Gostkowski

151

Maclin

48

Gronkowski

66

Ware

36

Edelman

42

Interceptions

Peters

8

Ryan

4

Parker

3

* *

Harmon

3

Five tied

2

Butler

2

Branch

1

Sacks

Houston

7.5

Jones

12.5

Hali

6.5

Sheard

8

Howard

5.5

Ninkovich

6.5

Parker

5

Collins

5.5

Defensive Tackles

Johnson

116

Collins

89

Parker

78

Chung

82

Berry

61

Ryan

74

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