Patriots-Chiefs matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Nov. 17, 2011 @ 3:35 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week 11 game between the Patriots and Chiefs:

Patriots running game vs. Chiefs run defense

As good as Tom Brady and the passing game looked last Sunday, the Patriots need to get their ground game back on track. Against the league's best defenses, it's too much pressure on Brady and his receivers if the Pats run the ball the way they have.

The Patriots rushed for 60 yards against the Jets and 43 against the Steelers. They shouldn't have a problem running against the Chiefs, who are allowing 134 rushing yards per game, but that's exactly why the Patriots should spend some time committing to the run.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, in particular, should take advantage of this opportunity. He has had three games this season where he was absent. Eight yards against the Jets, nine yards against the Steelers and 18 yards against the Bills. He did hit his career-high earlier this season, with 136 yards against the Jets, but he has not been consistent.

The Patriots have two of the game's best run-blocking guards in Logan Mankins and Brian Waters, but C Dan Connolly is a downgrade from Dan Koppen.

It's not just Green-Ellis. Rookie Stevan Ridley hasn't repeated what he showed against Oakland when he rushed for 97 yards. Danny Woodhead, who was injured earlier in the season, started to get back on track last week.

During an easy stretch of games to end the season, the Patriots need to take care of business, but also focus on weaknesses, one being the run game. The Chiefs aren't good against the run, but have ILB Derrick Johnson in the middle who will provide a good test on the second level.