Rams, Chiefs hit the road to risk unbeaten NFL starts
Undefeated Kansas City will visit Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday while the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams travel to Denver for another week six NFL contest.
The last remaining clubs with a chance at a perfect campaign aim for 6-0 starts, with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes having made only six career NFL starts while 41-year-old Patriots star passer Brady has won five Super Bowls in eight appearances.
"He's one of the greatest quarterbacks if not the greatest to ever play. It's going to be a great opportunity," said 23-year-old Mahomes, whose father Pat was a Major League Baseball pitcher.
"Just to compete against one of the best teams in the league is going to be an awesome opportunity. You want to play against the best."
Mahomes has thrown for 1,797 yards and 14 touchdowns while tossing only two interceptions, but he knows the Patriots defenders will be trying to throw the second-year standout off his game.
"The mentality we've had this entire season is that whoever is open, give them the ball and let them make the play -- going to help us out a ton," Mahomes said. "They are going to do some stuff to try to confuse me, but I am going to try to maintain our game plan and keep working."
Chiefs coach Andy Reid, going for his 200th NFL victory, knows his Patriots counterpart, Bill Belichick, is famous for versatile and adaptable defensive schemes.
"He mixes and matches. He can change up and give you a completely different look," Reid said. "Preparation becomes important so when you look at a route, you make sure you've got it down at least mentally versus all the looks you might face."
Mahomes is a threat scrambling or in the pocket, a factor the Patriots (3-2) will try to limit.
"We just want to keep him in the pocket," Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers said. "We'll just try to contain him, get some pressure up the middle. We've got to be disciplined in the early downs and make them as uncomfortable as possible."
- Rams 'will respond' -
The Rams have not started a season 6-0 since 2001 but will try to match that run with a victory at Denver, where the Broncos (2-3) will stick with former Rams quarterback Case Keenum.
Denver boasts a tough two-back running attack that ranks fifth in the NFL with 137 rush yards a game behind rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman while the Rams have the league's fourth-worst run defense, surrendering five yards a carry.
"What we're encouraged about as you watch it as a staff are they're very fixable things," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "I think our players will respond the right way. For us as coaches, that's the beauty of this is being able to look at the film, correct and you move forward."
There's little to change with the Rams' attack, with Jared Goff completing 120 of 166 passes for 1,727 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods each above 400 reception yards for the season, on top of Todd Gurley's rushing threat.
Cooks and Kupp are both questionable as they work through the NFL concussion protocol but McVay likes their chances to play Sunday.
"Everything is good, no setbacks," he said. "They are progressing in the right direction."
Sunday's other games find Tampa Bay at Atlanta, Carolina at Washington, Seattle at Oakland, Indianapolis at the New York Jets, Arizona at Minnesota, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland, Buffalo at Houston, Chicago at Miami, Baltimore at Tennessee and Jacksonville at Dallas.
San Francisco will visit Green Bay on Monday night while New Orleans and Detroit have the week off.