The New England Patriots expected the face the Kansas City Chiefs in the marquee Sunday afternoon time slot. Patrick Mahomes and the undefeated defending Super Bowl champs were ready to play against a 2-1 Patriots squad led by a resurgent and highly motivated Cam Newton.
Pretty early in the weekend, news emerged that Newton was positive for the coronavirus. This made it impossible for the Patriots to travel to Kansas City without additional tests to the rest of the squad as well as the coaches. So far, no other player or team personell has tested positive for the virus.
With no Newton on the field against the Chiefs, the Patriots will have a hard time going against one of the best teams in the league. Since Newton has been ruled out, oddsmakers have put the Patriots as 11-point underdogs going into this game. While this is not shocking, this is just the third time a Bill Belichick-coached Pats team has ever gotten more than 11 points on a game spread.
The Patriots will likely start veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer, who won the top backup job over second-year Jarrett Stidham in training camp. He has a lot of experience with the Patriots but he has not played in any regular-season games with them at all. To add to that, we don’t know how he and coordinator Josh McDaniels will make it work. There could be some struggles, in which case Stidham could take over the quarterback position.
What the Patriots need to do is deliver a very strong defensive performance to hold the Chiefs to few points. Hoyer needs to take care of the football and not turn it over. At the same time, the running game needs to be on point.
We know that the Patriots are a accomplished and well-coached team, we just need them to pull it together as they head into one of their toughest matchups of the season.