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New England Patriots v. Kansas City Chiefs NFL Preview Monday Night Football

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New England Patriots' Wes Welker

A New England Patriots' defense that looks very little like it did at the start of the season, faces off against a Kansas City Chiefs' offense that has suffered a similar fate this year.

The Patriots welcome the Chiefs to Foxboro tonight in what was supposed to be the return of quarterback Matt Cassel.

Cassel will miss out with a right hand injury and be replaced by Tyler Palko, who is making his first ever NFL start. Despite the frailties of the Patriots' defense, Palko faces a tough task as he is without two of the Chiefs' best offensive weapons.

Tight end Tony Moeaki was the first to land on IR, before the season even began, while all-pro running back Jamaal Charles followed soon after. The Chiefs haven't really been able to replace Charles despite the best efforts of Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones.

Battle has pounded his way to a 4.6 average per carry but has only one touchdown and isn't explosive. Dexter McCluster is as explosive as any other player in the league but has already fumbled the ball three times in only 63 attempts.
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Without Brandon Spikes or Dane Fletcher, who have been ruled out, the Patriots could be susceptible to a team dedicated to the run.

The Chiefs passing game will likely focus on the vertical threats of Jonathan Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe. Instead of relying on the arm of Palko to pick apart defenses, the Chiefs will look to make life easy on the inexperienced quarterback and put him in play action passing situations.

If Palko can sufficiently run the Chiefs' offense, he will have the matchups to put points on the board for the visiting team.

Whether Devin McCourty plays or not, Dwayne Bowe will be able to outmuscle his defender and beat him to the football. Jonathan Baldwin will be in a similar position as the Patriots' cornerbacks are too light to cope with his physicality also.

The Chiefs will look to establish the run in order to force Andre Carter and Mark Anderson to the sidelines. Throwing without those two pieces on the field will be crucial for the Chiefs if they are to win this game.

Offensively, the Patriots should be able to repeat their performance of last week against the New York Jets.

The Chiefs lack the overwhelming pass rush that is needed to disrupt the Patriots' passing game. Once Tamba Hali is kept in check, Brady should be able to pick apart the Chiefs' secondary minus Eric Berry.

While Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr are reliable corners, the Chiefs have nobody that can matchup to Wes Welker and the team's two tight ends. The Chiefs rank 14th against the pass but have struggled against pass first teams.

The Patriots will spread out the Chiefs' defense which will give Welker and Gronkowski plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers. Expect the Patriots' offense to function more like it did early in the season opposed to recent times.

This Monday Night Football encounter will hinge on the performances of the Chiefs' quarterback, the fact that that quarterback is not Matt Cassel seriously hurts their chances of winning this game.

Cassel was a big reason this game was put in primetime, without he and other key players, this matchup is too one sided to even be competitive.

Not least a prime time matchup.

Tweeting @Cianaf
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