There are two Kansas City games on Bill Belichick’s mind right now.
One is the Chiefs’ most recent one, when they beat Houston Texans 30-0 on Saturday in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
The other is New England’s previous encounter with them, when they beat the Patriots 41-14 last season — the second-worst defeat of Belichick’s tenure with the Patriots.
“That was a pretty dominant performance by Kansas City,” Belichick told reporters on Sunday, a day after the Chiefs advanced by shutout to set up the second-round matchup.
“We’re certainly going to have to prepare and coach the team a lot better than we did that night. So that’s what we’ll try to do.”
The loss to Kansas City in Week 4 last season was a tumultuous time for the Patriots, who were in the middle of what constitutes a slump for them: a pair of AFC championship game losses and a 10th straight year without a Super Bowl victory.
New Englanders began to wonder if quarterback Tom Brady, who was pulled from the game after throwing two interceptions, was slowing down at age 37.
Belichick famously responded to all big-picture questions with a dismissive, “We’re on to Cincinnati.”
And the Patriots did turn things around, winning 10 of their next 11 regular-season games and then earning their fourth Super Bowl title.
“A lot of time has passed there. So there are a lot of things to think about,” Belichick said on Sunday.
“There’s been 25 games since then. A thousand plays on either side of the ball. There are some things we can take from it. There are some things that are outdated. … It has relevance.”
The Patriots (12-4), who earned a first-round bye, will play the Chiefs in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Saturday for the right to advance to the AFC championship game.
“They’re doing a phenomenal job. Bill’s a friend, he’s a heck of a football coach. Tom Brady is unbelievable. And the job they’ve done there, the accomplishments they’ve had, they’ve made history,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We look forward to the challenge of playing them. That’s what this is all about.”
But while Belichick may be pondering that game against Kansas City a couple of years ago, Reid is hardly giving it a thought.
“Listen, that was then, this is now, so you prepare yourself,” he said. “We’ve got guys playing now that were watching that on TV.”
New England is trying to reach its fifth straight conference title game, but the Chiefs have a streak of their own.
Kansas City (12-5) has won 11 straight games, including the victory over the Texans. Belichick said on Sunday it will be harder to prepare for them because there are so few examples of things opponents did that worked.
“The fact that they haven’t lost in so long, it’s not like you can go to a game and say ‘This is how this team defeated them.’ That just doesn’t exist,” Belichick said. “So we’ve got to figure out a way.”