Chiefs' Legion of Zoom has clear advantage over Patriots' pass-catchers

Cruz: Patriots' defense will struggle vs. Mahomes (1:33)

Victor Cruz expects Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to be too much for the Patriots' defense on Sunday. (1:33)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs like to boast that they have the NFL's fastest group of receivers, and they've often backed up those claims this season. With Mecole Hardman, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and others, the Chiefs have recorded 14 plays on which their ball carrier reached at least 20 mph.

In fact, the Chiefs' Legion of Zoom is tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the most plays on which a ball carrier reached 20 mph.

"We've always got the speed advantage," Hill said. "It doesn't matter who we face."

The Chiefs might have their biggest speed advantage of the season on Sunday in New England against the Patriots, who have had no ball carriers reach 20 mph this season. Their fastest was wide receiver Antonio Brown at 19.96 mph, but he hasn't played since September and won't play on Sunday.

How the Patriots handle the Chiefs' speed will be a key to Sunday's game. The Chiefs have not only a fast group of wide receivers but also tight end Travis Kelce. He won't win any footraces against a wideout, but he is fleet of foot for a 260-pound tight end.

"Not many teams you look at the roster, there's 4.2 something, three guys 4.3 -- there's just so many guys that are fast," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. "And you talk about getting vertical, you can't just stand over one guy and do it. They have multiple guys that can go vertical, and you have to play well at every position when you're in coverage because there's a threat of a guy going deep on every play.

"Right away, you think of the speed guys, but ... Kelce's another guy that can go deep. He's one of their better deep threats as well. So I think the toughest thing with the deep ball is the speed and the ability they have across the board, no matter who they put on the field."

The speed translates into big plays. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 36 passes of more than 25 yards.

"You talk about speed at every key position," Chiefs backup quarterback Matt Moore said. "A lot of teams have a guy that's quick. We've got a few of them. It's nice, too, because we've got guys we can mix and match at different positions, and they can all run. It's a nice thing to have."

The Chiefs' speed has the attention of the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick.

"They're pretty fast," Belichick said this week. "They've got a lot of guys that can run. We've seen a few fast groups, but they're certainly up there. They put a lot of speed on the field."

Asked how the Patriots, who feature one of the NFL's top cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore, match up against the Chiefs' speed, Belichick said, "We'll see. I'm sure they'll test us on it."

The Chiefs tested the Patriots twice last season, once in Week 6 and later in the AFC Championship Game. New England frustrated the Chiefs with man-to-man coverage, but Kansas City managed 10 passes of 25 or more yards in the two games.

Hill caught seven passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots in the regular season and had one reception for 42 yards in the playoff game.

"I'm always expecting man-to-man coverage, no matter the team," Hill said when asked how he expected the Patriots to defend him on Sunday. "It doesn't matter who they put on me. I'm still going to do my job."

This season, the Chiefs added Hardman, a second-round draft pick. He has the two fastest Chiefs plays of the season, both faster than 21 mph on long touchdowns on which he pulled away from defenders.

"He's a fast, explosive player, really good with the ball in his hands," Belichick said. "He can stretch the field."

Hardman and Hill each have five of the Chiefs' 14 plays above 20 mph. Watkins, running backs Damien Williams and Darrel Williams and safety Juan Thornhill have one each.

"That's one thing about this offense," Watkins said. "We've got fast guys that can catch the ball and a quarterback that can get us the ball. It's important to use our speed in this game. We've got to play better than we've been playing on offense. We're at our best when we're playing fast."

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss contributed to this story.