KANSAS CITY, Mo. – If the Kansas City Chiefs needed an offseason motivational boost as they prepare for the regular season, they could receive it as soon as this week from the NFL's schedule makers.
That prospect already has the attention of the Chiefs even though the schedule has yet to be announced and the game is not official.
"It kind of has everything in it," tackle Mitchell Schwartz said. "It's the opening week. It will be the only game. Defending champs, going to New England, which has probably been up there as the toughest places to play since those two [Tom Brady and Bill Belichick] have been playing and coaching together."
The game would present some significant challenges for the Chiefs, as it would for any opponent venturing into Gillette Stadium for a prime-time season opener, which this season will be played on Sept. 7. The Patriots have the NFL's best home record (107-21) since 2001. The home team has won 12 of the last 13 weeknight season-openers.
"Coach Belichick is great," Schwartz said. "That's not a guy you really want to face with five months of preparation against you. But our staff has typically done a great job coming off a bye, so we're pretty good at that type of preparation, too.
"If that's how it plays out, it should be a good matchup. Obviously, they want to put a good game out there for the opening game."
Based on the previous season's accomplishments of their opponents, the Chiefs haven't faced a rugged opener since Andy Reid arrived as head coach in 2013. Their last four opening games have been played against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14 the season before), Tennessee Titans (7-9), Houston Texans (9-7) and San Diego Chargers (4-12).
The Patriots finished 14-2 in the regular season and beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
The Chiefs, according to the NFL's schedule rotation, are going to have to play in New England at some point next season. The game being the prime-time opener would be a reward of sorts for winning the AFC West last season for the first time since 2010.
"We've upped the ante a little bit," quarterback Alex Smith said. "I think that's a good thing. To get to play on the big stages, you have to earn that. They just don't let anybody there. If it happens, we'll have to be ready for it."
The Chiefs played at New England once since Reid's arrival as head coach. That happened in the divisional round of the 2015 playoffs. The Chiefs lost 27-20. The Chiefs trounced the Patriots 41-14 in Kansas City on Sept. 29, 2014.
"It will be nice to play [at New England] in September [and] hopefully better weather," Smith said.