CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday ahead of the Patriots' Monday night matchup against the Chiefs. On paper, the Patriots have a strong advantage over the Chiefs, especially since Kansas City starting quarterback Matt Cassel will not play after requiring surgery to repair an injury to his right hand.
Backup quarterback Tyler Palko will start in Cassel's place. Palko has made 13 career passes in two years in the NFL and completed nine of them. He was ranked 31st out of 32 backup quarterbacks by Pro Football Weekly entering the season.
"This is a team that has no chance offensively," Esiason said of the Chiefs. "Offensively they're terrible. They get no big plays. They have guys that are capable of it. Dwayne Bowe, certainly, Steve Breaston are both capable players.
"But the fact that they're going to be playing with Tyler Palko tonight, he's going to make his first start as an NFL quarterback, leads me to believe that there's not going to be a lot of offense generated. On the other side, it's Romeo Crennel who's the defensive coordinator. I think he's not very creative. He just sits back. And I would imagine that Tom Brady should have one of his highest completion percentage nights assuming that the weather is going to be OK, which I think it is."
Brady certainly seemed excited to face the Kansas City defense, as he smiled when asked about playing Crennel's defense during an interview last week. The Chiefs enter Monday's game following two tough losses. Their most recent loss came against the Broncos, as Tim Tebow completed just 2-of-8 passes but still completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to lead Denver to a 17-10 win.
The week before the Denver loss, Kansas City was roughed up by the previously winless Dolphins and suffered a 31-3 loss. Because of the Chiefs' recent record, Esiason noted that motivation could be an issue for the Patriots.
"I would always think that when you're a coach and you're playing against a team like Kansas City who comes in, doesn't have a great record and has not played great the last few weeks, who got beat by Tim Tebow, you sit there and you say to yourself, 'How do I motivate these players? How do I get them at the level they were last week?' " Esiason said. "I can't imagine that Andre Carter is going to have 4½ sacks tonight. I just, I don't see it happening because because I don't see that fever pitch is going to be there for the Patriots, but I do think that the Patriots should run away with the game offensively, which will make their defensive performance a little bit easier to deal with."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On what it's like to play defense for a team like Kansas City: "There are some players on Kansas City that I would imagine if you were a defensive player for the Kansas City Chiefs, you'd be really, really frustrated. The one thing I will say about Rex Ryan's defense, Rob Ryan's defense, they do a lot of different things. They bring blitzes. Dick LeBeau's defense in Pittsburgh, a lot of blitzes. I think defensive players love playing in that kind of style for the Patriots and for the Kansas City Chiefs who I think are worse than the Patriots when it comes to being totally vanilla. It's all about keeping the ball in front of them, and if you're just patient, I would think that a guy like Tom Brady will have many opportunities for big plays tonight."
On the way the playoff picture is shaping up for the Patriots: "When you take a look at the Patriots' schedule and you take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers' schedule and the Houston Texans' schedule, the toughest team that either one of those three teams have to play is on the road at San Francisco and that's the Pittsburgh game. The rest of the teams' games are all going to be underdogs to those three teams.
"I think you're looking at one, two and three. That's going to be the lineup I believe in the playoff schedule in the AFC. I think it's going to be New England will be the No. 1 seed. That's the way it looks like right now based on the schedule."
On if Mark Sanchez needed another year of college: "You know what? Part of me says yes, but the other part of me, he goes into New England last year and beats Brady on his own field in the playoffs, he beats Peyton Manning on his own field in the playoffs. The year before was Carson Palmer and it was Philip Rivers he went on the road to beat. There are moments when you look at Mark and you say to yourself, 'Wow, this kid has everything you need.' But then there are those moments in games where he makes boneheaded plays and throws interceptions and is inaccurate. For any quarterback in the league to be under 60 percent completion who has been in the league for three years and who has Plaxico Burress, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene and Santonio Holmes on the field with him, to me, that sheds a lot of light on a guy that seems to be very anxious and is not playing with great poise. When you have that anxiety that gets the better of you, this is the performance that you see on the field."
On Rex Ryan's verbal debacles: "I said last week, enough with the apologies. They start to ring hollow after a while. ... This is not the only time in some way, shape or form that the Jets had to internally discipline him, and now the league is going to take issue with some of this stuff. You know, maybe this is why Rex wasn't hired in the first place. You know, Baltimore had him there. They saw him for many, many years. We all know Rex and we all loved Rex as a defensive coordinator and he was a personality. I don't want to discount what he has done for the Jets, but every time something like this happens, you now know why he wasn't hired before this."
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