Patriots

Bedard: Patriots have been dealt a terrible hand vs. Chiefs, but there are few good options

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Even without you-know-who, this was going to be a marquee game.

Chiefs-Patriots. Belichick-Reid. Mahomes-Newton.

We all know by now, we won't get some of that. It's a shame. This was a chance for the Patriots to announce themselves as serious contenders in the AFC — or not. The 1-yard loss in Seattle was nice, but that's hardly the Legion of Boom out there. Plus, interconference games are funky because the teams meet so infrequently.

Kansas City and New England know each other very well. The Chiefs are the new Colts to the Patriots, probably even better because Patrick Mahomes is, with all due respect to No. 18, a much more generational talent than Peyton Manning. He could wrack up the numbers and the regular-season wins, but Mahomes, in the words of Newton, is changing the game — and has already changed it.

Stranger things have happened, but this would be a monumental upset if the Patriots — longshots before Newton's positive test — were to go into Arrowhead and knock off the Chiefs. The chances of an upset — if the game is even played pending more testing on Monday morning — are remote, but not totally out of the question. The Patriots' defense could hold Mahomes and Co. down. The Patriots could make a few game-changing plays on special teams, and Brian Hoyer could find a few magical moments.

It's not fair to anyone involved, from the fans to the Chiefs but to especially the Patriots. They're probably going to fall two games behind the Bills — who haven't beaten a team that was in the postseason last year yet (But Josh Allen is an MVP candidate!) — by 1 yard and 1 positive Covid test, falling to a team (Seattle) that won a playoff game last year, and, likely, the defending Super Bowl champions.

If this was in a vacuum and they had a limitless roster, the Patriots could