Week 4 Preview: Patriots @ Chiefs

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Oct 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs fans show support at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 13, 2013; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs fans show support at Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs (1-2) return home after two straight road games to host the New England Patriots (2-1) at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday night.

Of course, the Chiefs also come off its first win of the season and now hope to build from the victory.

“It’s motivation,” running back Cyrus Gray said. “The thing about it, once you get a taste of victory you want more. The thing about this team is we’re hungry and we’re going to put up a fight.”

Tight end Travis Kelce agreed.

“It’s a huge momentum boost,” he said. “On top of that, it kind of gets us rolling to this Monday Night game.”

Maintaining the push into Week 4 could open the door to more positive things.

And there are goals in mind with the bye week two games away and considering the Chiefs’ first two games of the season resulted in losses.

“We want to finish out strong this short stretch and go into the bye week feeling good that we’ve bounced back from the 0-2,” rookie kicker Cairo Santos said. “But at the end of the day, let’s focus on one game at a time.”

The Chiefs aren’t in the habit of looking down the road, preferring to take care of current business and live by the “one game at a time” battle cry.

“We don’t look ahead,” Gray said, “but of course I think momentum is big in this league. The thing about it is we just have to continue to focus, just play each week and just prepare for every team. Everything else will just take care of itself.”

The mission continues Monday night.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Offense

• The Chiefs rank 13th in rushing (124.7 yards per game) and 26th in passing (197.7 yards per game).
• The Patriots rank 22nd in rushing (105 yards per game) and 27th in passing (196.3 yards per game).

Defense

• The Chiefs rank 23rd against the run (130.3 yards allowed per game) and are tied at 11th against the pass (223.7 yards allowed per game).
• The Patriots rank 11h against the run (104 yards allowed per game) and first against the pass (168.7 yards allowed per game).

THE LAST TIME

The Chiefs and Patriots square off for the 33rd time, and the Patriots thumped the Chiefs  34-3 on Monday Night Football in 2011.

The Chiefs hold a 16-13-3 all-time edge over the Patriots, and are 4-1 all-time against New England at Arrowhead Stadium. The Patriots last trip to Kansas City came in 2005, when the Chiefs defeated the Patriots 26-16.

Week 4’s Monday night contest marks the fourth matchup between the Chiefs and Patriots on the NFL’s biggest regular-season primetime stage, the second at Arrowhead Stadium. The first Monday night meeting at Arrowhead Stadium resulted in the Patriots defeating the Chiefs 27-19 in Week 11 of the 2004 season.

The Patriots are 3-0 against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

CHARLES SET FOR RETURN

Running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) should be in the lineup Monday night against the Patriots barring a setback.

Charles, who didn’t play in Week 3, put in a limited practice for three straight days and is officially listed as probable.

[Related: Week 4 final Patriots-Chiefs injury report]

The NFL’s definition of the probable designation is “virtual certainty will be available for normal duty.”

Another good sign Charles is ready to resume his featured role came from coach Andy Reid following Saturday’s practice before the release of Saturday’s official injury report.

“He did everything,” Reid said of Charles.

Second-year running back Knile Davis, who filled in admirably during Charles’ absence, will resume his role as primary backup and most likely take over returner duties again.

Davis leads the Chiefs with 214 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 55 carries. He produced a career-high 132 yards rushing in Week 3’s win against the Miami Dolphins.

Charles has 23 yards rushing on nine carries on the season. He suffered his ankle injury in the first quarter of Week 2’s game against the Denver Broncos.

BRING THE NOISE

The Chiefs have lost four straight home games going back to Week 12 of the 2013 season. The last home win came in Week 8 against the Cleveland Browns.

Still, Arrowhead Stadium is widely regarded as one of the toughest NFL venues for visiting teams. The Chiefs hope to make it tougher on Monday night when fans make another attempt for the crowd noise record.

“The Sea of Red is something when it gets cranking,” coach Andy Reid said. “I have this feeling that they’re probably going to set a new record. It’s going to be a lot of red and we look forward to it and bringing the Patriots in here and letting them enjoy that part of it.”

Arrowhead Stadium previously held the Guinness World Record at 137.5 decibels for seven weeks last season before Seattle Seahawks fans reclaimed the record with 137.6 decibels at CenturyLink Field.

While crowd noise can be a factor, the Patriots hope it won’t affect too much.

“I’m sure it will be challenging for us,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said during Wednesday’s media conference call. “But we’ve played in other places and dealt with those on a regular basis as well, so we’ll just have to have good execution on Monday night.”

Arrowhead Stadium staff members will have 36,000 earplugs available for fans at the stadium gates.

TOUGH TO IGNORE

The comparison between fifth-year Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and second-year Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce were bound to happen, and will likely continue to grow.

Both are big – Gronkowski measures 6-6, 265 pounds; Kelce meaures 6-5, 260 pounds – and athletic pass catchers.

“He’s definitely caught my eye,” Gronkowski said of Kelce during Wednesday afternoon’s conference call. “He’s a good player. He’s got good size, good speed and good hands from what I’ve seen of him so far.”

Their statistics entering Week 4 are similar, too.

Gronkowski has 11 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns on the season, while Kelce has 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s obviously one of the top in the league,” Kelce said, “if not the best in the league. It’s exciting just to kind of be compared to him.”

While Kelce is flattered to be mentioned with Gronkowski, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and first-team All-Pro in 2011, he prefers to allow others to make the comparisons.

“I’ll let you guys (media) decide who’s to say what I play like and what he plays like,” Kelce said.

QUOTABLE

Chiefs coach Andy Reid on tight end Travis Kelce’s passion and on-field celebrations after making a big play:

“He’s got a little zest to him,” Reid said.

Chiefs safety Ron Parker on defending Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is being eased into the New England offense following offseason ACL surgery:

“It doesn’t matter if he’s 100 percent or 20 percent,” Parker said. “You still have to gameplan for him like he’s 100 percent.”

Chiefs rookie guard Zach Fulton on playing in his inaugural Monday Night Football game:

“It’s like the only game on TV,” Fulton said. “It’s kind of cool just knowing that.”

Prediction

The Patriots are 3.5 favorites over the Chiefs, but this game is ripe for the hometown team to seize control.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been harassed behind a struggling offensive line. And that’s not a good recipe for success against a Chiefs defense with nine sacks on the season, a mark that ties for fourth-most in the league.

While it’s never wise to discount Brady, outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston should spend a lot of time in the backfield disrupting passing plays.

The Chiefs offense comes off a game where it totaled 34 points and 174 yards rushing without running back Jamaal Charles, who missed Week 3 nursing an ankle injury. Charles is expected to play Monday given his probable designation.

Look for the Chiefs to get to .500.

Outcome: Chiefs 27, Patriots 21.