FOXBOROUGH -- One area to watch today will be the Patriots' ability to avoid negative plays, specifically in the running game.
The Chiefs ranked first in the NFL last season in third-down defense, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick made the point that a big part of that was the Chiefs' ability to create negative plays on first and second down. Belichick cited that Kansas City also ranked first in that category -- creating negative plays.
The Patriots' offense struggled in the preseason with negative plays.
In the running game alone, the Patriots had 10 negative running plays in the preseason. There were seven other running plays that went for no gain. So of a total of 97 running plays during the preseason, the Patriots did not gain yardage on 17 of them.
In one respect, those stats must be kept in context, as some of the negative runs came with players who are not on the roster at this time. At the same time, the percentage of running plays that gained negative or no yardage was too high.