The Patriots will have to deal with one of football's most impressive young stars when the undefeated Chiefs bound into Gillette Stadium on Sunday night.
Patrick Mahomes, in his second season after serving as the next-in-line to Alex Smith in 2017, was on pace to break Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown record going into Sunday's game against the Jaguars. He was as assassin from the pocket and a wizard on the run.
Against the Jaguars, Mahomes came back to earth, throwing his first pick . . . and then his second not too long after. He finished the game with a rating of 62.7, but he threw for 313 yards, ran for a score, and helped the Chiefs to a 30-14 win.
Bill Belichick said he knew the Patriots had no shot at drafting Mahomes since they were picking 61st, but they did scout him, they did evaluate him, and they may have to tap into every last morsel of information they have on Mahomes to prepare for that they'll see Week 6.
Asked what impressed him about Mahomes' game, Belichick's answer came quickly.
"Pretty much everything," he said. "Gets the ball to all of his receivers. Quick. Quick release. Sees things quickly. Can extend plays. Got a great arm. Got a fabulous arm. Throw the ball out of the stadium. Makes good decisions. Accurate. Gets the ball out on time."
You don't have to be a head coach in his fifth decade in the league to see that arm strength. Mahomes' arm has quickly been established as one of the best in football. Even his in throws in warmups have been deemed meme-worthy.
New England Patriots
"No matter where it goes it gets there pretty quickly," Belichick said. "But the farther a quarterback can throw it, the more you gotta defend. If the ball is on their 20-yard line you still gotta defend to the goal line against him. He can rip it."
The Patriots have been one of the best in the league at limiting explosive passing plays of 20 yards or more (14 on 205 pass plays, seven percent, is eighth-best in football), but they know they'll be as stressed as they've been all season when Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Sammy Watkins get to Foxboro.
Linebackers coach and defensive play-caller Brian Flores had one word to describe Mahomes late last week: "Dynamic."