Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass under pressure from Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser (54) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles away from Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (50) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates his touchdown pass to running back Rex Burkhead (34) in the first half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) gets a poke in the eye as he closes in to sack New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled over the years to stop the run, regardless of who was directing their defense. But they showed in last week's win over the Baltimore Ravens that they could rise to the challenge.
They have another big one this weekend.
The New England Patriots roll into Arrowhead Stadium behind new quarterback Cam Newton, himself a threat to run, and a backfield that went roughshod over the Las Vegas Raiders last weekend. Sony Michel needed just nine carries to pile up 117 yards, Rex Burkhead reached the end zone three times and the Patriots totaled 250 yards rushing in the win.
''Cam being in a role there that he's fully accepted, I think he's enjoying it,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, ''and we anticipate them being able to run the ball, but don't be fooled, because Cam can throw the ball very well, too.''
That may be true, but it's not as if the Chiefs (3-0) are preparing for Tom Brady in his heyday. The first order of business any week may be to stop the run - something the Chiefs did quite well against the Ravens on Monday night - but the challenge is even more important when the Patriots (2-1) have shown such a propensity for grinding out yards on the ground.
They lead the league in rushing through the first three weeks. The Chiefs are 27th at defending the run.
The Patriots also hope their running game allows them to control the clock, shortening the game and thereby keeping record-setting quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the dynamic Chiefs offense off the field.
''Ball control and points. You know that,'' Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears said. ''Let's get the points and let's control the ball; I don't care how we do it. Dink-and-dunk, quarterback sneak, I don't give a (darn). Just get it done.''
They have a lot of guys who can get it done, too. Michel, Burkhead and Newton are a considerable three-headed monster, but undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor also has gotten into the mix. James White was back at practice this week after the death of his father in an auto accident, as was Damien Harris, who has been on injured reserve with a finger problem.
''We're a bunch of competitors,'' Taylor said, ''but we also want to see each other succeed.''
The Patriots will need them to against the Chiefs on Sunday.
CAM AND GET IT
Newton is the fourth straight quarterback the Chiefs have prepared for that can run. They faced the Texans' Deshaun Watson in the opener, then prepared for the Chargers' Tyrod Taylor in Week 2, though he was ruled out shortly before kickoff because of a medical mishap. Then came the Ravens' Lamar Jackson last week.
''Cam can do anything. Cam, he's been the passer, he's been the runner, he's been the whole deal,'' Reid said. ''You have to prepare for everything and we went in that way with Lamar, the same thing.''
The Chiefs will be without rookie cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, who has two picks through his first three games, but who had surgery this week on the collarbone he broke Monday night in Baltimore. They also could be without Chris Jones, who came into the week leading the AFC with 3 1/2 sacks, because of a groin injury. Top cornerback Bashaud Breeland remains out while serving the final game of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
MAHOMES IN 2020
The reigning Super Bowl MVP continues to have an unforgettable a year. He led the Chiefs to their first title in 50 years, signed a long-term deal that could pay him a half-billion dollars, got engaged to his long-time girlfriend and this week announced the couple is going to have a baby. Oh, and he's also started the season by throwing for nearly 300 yards per game with nine touchdown passes, another touchdown on the ground and no interceptions.
''I mean, all the superlatives that have been said about him, I'd just be repeating them all,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
PASSING THE BUCK
While the biggest challenge facing the Chiefs may be stopping the run, the biggest facing the Patriots will be covering their fleet of pass catchers. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are merely the start of the headaches - fellow wide receivers Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire are all threats.
''They have five good receivers out there on almost every play,'' Belichick said, ''so it's hard to match up with two, three or four of them, but they've got five and a great quarterback and a great offensive system. They maximize the amount of pressure they put on you and they do a lot of different things.''
The Chiefs will welcome about 17,000 fans to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. It's the 22% of capacity that they were allowed for their Week 1 win over Houston, but welcome news after empty stands on visits to the Chargers and Ravens.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
After coming down with a calf strain at practice on Friday, Aaron Jones is now expected to miss the Week 7 game against the Texans. This is a tough one for fantasy football managers, as Jones has been a reliable RB1 all season long and may be difficult to replace in fantasy lineups on short notice. Fourth-year running back Jamaal Williams is now expected to act as the lead RB, but rookie AJ Dillon will be in the mix as well and should see more touches than usual. Dexter Williams was added to the Packers active roster on Saturday as well for additional running back depth. Consider Williams a plug-and-play RB2/FLEX option, while Dillon looks more like an RB3/RB4 flier for deeper leagues. Both are also intriguing lower-cost options for DFS lineups, depending on the contest format.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones (calf) isn't expected to play Sunday, Oct. 25, and the team is planning on him not playing, according to sources Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: It's a big blow for fantasy managers. Packers RBs Jamaal Williams, AJ Dillon and Dexter Williams should all play roles with Dillon being the most appealing for fantasy purposes.
Dallas Cowboys DB Rashard Robinson (undisclosed) was placed on the practice squad injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Mike Daniels was activated from the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. DB Winston Rose was also promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Edwards and LB Edmond Robinson were added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24, as COVID-19 replacements.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (knee) has an 'outside chance' of returning in Week 8, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman should be stashed now wherever available with RB Raheem Mostert going on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday.
Updating a previous story, Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is officially listed as questionable for the game Monday, Oct. 26, against the Chicago Bears after getting in a limited practice Saturday, Oct. 24.
Los Angeles Rams DL Michael Brockers (non-injury) and CB Troy Hill (non-injury) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but don't carry injury designations for Week 7. DL Aaron Donald (non-injury) and OL Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) practiced in full and don't carry injury designations.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) is hopeful to play Monday, Oct. 26, according to head coach Sean McVay Saturday, Oct. 24.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee had a season-high 56 yards with three catches on four targets in Week 6. He's a low-tier TE1 when on the field.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) was a limited participant at practice Saturday, Oct. 24, but doesn't carry an injury designation into the Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Oct. 26.
Fantasy Spin: Woods will be a somewhat risky WR3 play in what's projected as a low-scoring game against the Bears.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Chris Thompson was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Oct. 24.
Updating previous stories, San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) was officially placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Oct. 24. S Johnathan Cyprien and S Jared Mayden were activated from the team's practice squad. WR Jauan Jennings (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Tennessee Titans DB Dane Cruikshank was activated from the Reserve/Injured list to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24. OL David Quessenberry and LB Daren Bates were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster.
Denver Broncos CB A.J. Bouye, DE Dre'Mont Jones and DE DeMarcus Walker were activated from the Reserve/Injured list to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24. CB De'Vante Bausby was released in a corresponding move. Free-agent DL Sylvester Williams (Broncos) was re-signed to the practice squad. RB Jeremy Cox and LB Nigel Bradham will be elevated from the practice squad to the game-day roster for Sunday, Oct. 25.
Las Vegas Raiders DE David Irving and CB Dylan Mabin were activated from the practice squad Saturday, Oct. 24.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Trey Edmunds and LB Jayrone Elliott were elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Oct. 24.