The Kansas City Chiefs might see a different New England Patriots team compared to previous seasons when the two AFC rivals renew their acquaintances Sunday.
Statistically, that is.
Just two seasons removed from ranking first in the league in total offense and a season after ranking fifth, the New England Patriots are ranked 14th in that department, averaging 360.8 yards per game. The last time the Patriots failed to finish a season ranked in the top 10 in total offense occurred in 2014.
And despite currently ranking sixth in scoring (26.8 point per game), the Patriots have failed to top 20 points twice in their last three games. New England won both of those games, but future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady didn't put up great numbers in either, throwing for just 406 total yards and a touchdown.
The grumblings outside of Foxborough, Massachusetts, are growing louder that perhaps the once-vaunted Patriots offense is getting frustrated ... and perhaps even slipping a bit.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick shrugged off that suggestion during a Tuesday teleconference with Chiefs beat writers.
"Yeah, our goal here is to win, not put up numbers," Belichick said emphatically. "The number we're concerned about is the wins and losses. That's the way it will always be as long as I'm here and we'll focus on that."
Indeed, the Patriots continue to churn out wins as one of the NFL's elite teams and currently sit 10-2 ahead of Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium.
New England has undergone some changes on offense since the last time they played the Chiefs — notably at tight end, with four-time All-Pro Rob Gronkowski retiring during the offseason.
And while the Patriots haven't set the scoreboard on fire over the past month, totaling 17 points in Week 11 and 13 in Week 13, the Chiefs know the Patriots remain, well, the Patriots.
"I think they're a team just trying to find their identity," Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor said. "When you watch film, you see different variations of things across the board. Some things are working for them, some aren't, but don't get it twisted because they're still the Pats.
"We're preparing for that same team."
Where the Patriots absolutely remain constant is at the quarterback position with Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion. Brady currently ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards, with 3,268, and has 18 touchdowns against six interceptions.
But is Brady, who turned 42 in August, finally slowing down with age?
No way, as Chiefs coach Andy Reid sees it.
"He doesn't seem to age," Reid said of Brady. "That's what I see. He's a good football player, a great football player."
Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who spent the 2018 season with the Green Bay Packers, provided a chuckle when asked if Brady is in decline.
"It's a myth," Breeland said. "People said the same thing about Aaron Rodgers. He'd have slow starts, and then he'd turn it on. Once you're a GOAT (greatest of all-time) and you have that GOAT status, at any moment you can turn it on. Brady can hit that switch anytime he's ready."
The Chiefs are certainly familiar with what Brady can do.
The future Hall of Famer holds a 5-3 career regular-season record against Kansas City, and Brady is 2-0 against the Chiefs in the postseason, including last season's 37-31 win in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Patriots might not have lit up the scoreboard in a couple of recent games, but the Chiefs won't underestimate a team led by Belichick and Brady.
"They only lost two games," Chiefs rookie safety Juan Thornhill said. "They're still a pretty good football team."