In anticipated high-scoring affair, how do Chiefs compare with another prolific squad?

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with tight end Travis Kelce #87 after scoring a second quarter rushing touchdown against the Denver Broncos at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on October 1, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s the kind of game that fantasy football owners dream of.  The kind you don’t see for years at a time.  The kind where the points—real and imaginary—are flying all over the place.

That’s what Sunday night’s Chiefs vs. Patriots game is shaping up to be.

When Vegas announced the betting lines, it set the over/under (total number of points scored by both teams) at 59. That’s the highest total for any game this season and the highest of any game since the NFC Championship Game in January of 2017.

In fact, to find a regular-season game with a higher over/under, you have to go all the way back to Christmas Day of 2004… when the Chiefs played the Raiders.  The mark in that one: 60 points.  The “over” hit with a Lawrence Tynes field goal in the final minute at Arrowhead to secure a 31-30 Chiefs victory.

I thought this week it might be interesting to look back at the results of that game and see whether these Chiefs can outdo those Chiefs… and how the Patriots may fare compared to the ’04 Raiders.

From our side:

2004 Trent Green: 358 yards passing, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 rushes 12 yards

I’d say a similar game is in order for Patrick Mahomes in Foxboro this Sunday.  For the first time, the Chiefs QB showed he was human against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Jags picked Mahomes twice for his first interceptions of the season and held the signal-caller without a passing touchdown for the first time in a game this year.

That’s not to say he didn’t make plays few other QBs could in that game.  NFL Research shows inexperienced quarterbacks (10 or fewer career starts) struggle with the Pats, going 0-10 in their last 10 games with 9 TDs and 11 INTs.  But, Mahomes isn’t any of those quarterbacks.  His ability to avoid trouble can’t be overstated in this one.  I think his passing yardage will be less than Green’s was in 2004, but the rushing yards should be greater.  Anything without a turnover will be considered a win.

From their side:

2004 Kerry Collins: 217 yards passing, 2 TD, 1 INT

While Tom Brady hasn’t been up to his usual standards this year, this seems like a relatively low hurdle for him to clear.  While the Chiefs defense showed signs of life against the Jaguars and forced turnovers, Blake Bortles still racked up 430 yards passing (admittedly, a lot came in garbage time.)  There’s also the matter that Brady isn’t as turnover prone as the Jags’ QB.  The Patriots are starting to round into their old selves the last couple of weeks, particularly with Julian Edelman back from a four-game suspension.  I have to believe Brady will put up big numbers this week.

From our side:

2004 Larry Johnson: 25 carries, 79 yards, 2 TD, 4 receptions, 43 yards

If anything, this may just show how different the league is now compared to 14 years ago.  Kareem Hunt hasn’t rushed 25 times in a game this season. He’s only hit that benchmark three times in a game in his career.  That’s no knock on him; in fact, he’s quietly rushed for the 4th most yards of anyone in the league this season.  I think Hunt can have a good game, but I’m not expecting him to match LJ’s 23 point output of 14 years ago.

From their side:

2004 Justin Fargas: 6 carries, 38 yards, 1 reception, -4 yards

2004 Zack Crocckett: 10 carries, 32 yards, 1 TD

2004 J.R. Redmond: 2 carries, 16 yards, 3 receptions, 23 yards

2004 Amos Zeroue: 4 carries, 14 yards, 4 rceptions, 38 yards

Just like the Raiders of old, the Patriots don’t have the true “bell cow” in the backfield and rely on a rotation of players.  Unlike the Silver and Black, these RBs all have something to offer in the fantasy game.

The steadying force in the backfield is James White.  Whether it’s on the ground or through the air, White’s scored a touchdown in four of five Patriots games this season.  He’s been responsible for at least 8 points in standard scoring leagues in each game this season, considerably more in PPR leagues.

First-round draft pick Sony Michel has actually led the team in rushing yards the last four games, including a 98-yard rushing performance last weekend against the Colts.  Before that, he put up 116 on the Dolphins.  It’s taken him a bit to find his groove, but he’s there now.  I think he’s the lesser fantasy option between he and White, but I’m starting both this week.

From our side:

2004 Eddie Kennison: 6 receptions, 79 yards

2004 Chris Horn: 4 receptions, 43 yards

Again, a sign of the changing times for the Chiefs.  Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins should be able to outpace the production of Kennison and Horn, respectively.

While the war of weekday words dominated the matchup between Hill and Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey, the Jags’ All-Pro seemingly got the best of the matchup.  While Hill did break free for one long gain against Ramsey, he was relatively held in check last week.  I don’t suspect the Patriots can do it again.

Watkins had a steady performance after missing a week with 6 catches for 78 yards.  He’s been more valuable as a PPR performer than in standard leagues, raking in at least 5 receptions in three of four games he’s played.  I think this is where his value lies again this week.  I wouldn’t start him in a regular league, but there’s value in 0.5 or full point per reception leagues.

From their side:

2004 Jerry Porter: 4 receptions, 57 yards, 1 TD

2004 Doug Gabriel: 1 reception, 11 yards

For as seemingly paltry as the Chiefs receivers seemed in 2004, they look like juggernauts in comparison to this low output the Raiders had.  In this era—and against this squad—you can’t expect a similar performance against the Patriots.

PPR league owners were happy to welcome Julian Edelman back last week.  Immediately, he made his presence felt in Week 5 with 7 receptions, good for second most on the Pats.  There’s no more known commodity in fantasy football than Edelman.  His value is hampered in standard leagues, but PPR players will continue to reap the benefits of virtually guaranteed double digit points again versus the Chiefs with the hopes he can find the end zone for a bonus.

Josh Gordon caught his first TD as a member of the Patriots and could find similar success against the Chiefs Sunday night.  He’s slowly starting to get acclimated to the Pats.  Despite being targeted just four times against the Colts, Gordon saw the field for 47 plays, the most he’s seen this season.  There’s few who can match his big play ability, and in a game where big plays seem needed, I’m expecting a breakout.

If there’s been a bust for the Patriots so far, it’s wideout Chris Hogan.  As the most, really only, established receiver on the roster to begin the season, it was expected Hogan would get the lion’s share of the receptions Edelman usually received.  That didn’t pan out.  I still think fantasy owners need to be patient with him.  Patriot receivers can come and go in waves.  I don’t fault anyone who’s leaving him on the bench, but I wouldn’t write him off your roster yet.

From our side:

2004 Tony Gonzalez: 11 receptions, 124 yards, 2 TD

Wow.  There’s not many tight ends capable of matching such a performance, but if there is one, he might be on this Chiefs roster.

Travis Kelce put up his third 100-yard game of the season and ranks second at the position for receiving yards.  To be fair, I don’t think anyone, let alone a tight end, should be counted on for having a 26-point game, but the fact that it’s not out of the question for Kelce speaks volumes about his talent.

From their side:

2004 Teyo Johnson: 3 receptions, 52 yards

That’s a perfectly respectable output for any tight end, even in a modern game.   But the Patriots have a pretty good weapon at the position of their own.

Rob Gronkowski still is off to a disappointing start by his standards, but he’s still 5th in the position for receiving yards.  There won’t be a better tight end matchup on the schedule this season, and I don’t believe Gronk is one who’s going to be shown up.

A quick word about the last three games with this high of an over/under: in each one, betting the over paid off.  If it wasn’t obvious by the tone of this column, I’m expecting a similar outcome on Sunday.  Get your Chiefs and Patriots players in your lineup, and watch the points pile up.