Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs will head to New England with a raft of rookies, a nine-game losing streak and, they hope, a positive attitude.
Logically, it still shapes up as the biggest mismatch of the NFL's opening weekend.
"It's probably the best way for us to start," head coach Herm Edwards insisted Monday. "Because you get a barometer of where you're at right now. There's no guessing. When the game's over with, you say, 'OK, here's where we're at."'
Oddsmakers say this one figures to be a runaway for a Patriots team seeing its first regular-season action since the Super Bowl loss to the Giants ruined their historic perfect season.
As of Monday, the Patriots were favored by 161â2 points, making K.C. the only double-digit underdog in the league.
"I'm pretty sure we're going to be two-touchdown or three-touchdown underdogs," cornerback Patrick Surtain said. "But that's what you've got to love about this game. It's played on the field."
The presumably angry and frustrated Patriots will be facing a Kansas City team in full and unapologetic rebuilding mode, winless in meaningful games since Oct. 14.
After ending last year on a nine-game losing streak, the Chiefs purged veterans, loaded up with youth and asked their fans to please be patient. As a result, the team Edwards takes to New England will probably include 15 rookies among 22 new players.
"That's good for us," Edwards said. "That's the direction we wanted to head in and now we've got to get them ready to play."
All 12 of last year's draftees are still with the organization. Nineteen players drafted in the last three years remain with the club. Eleven figure to start against the experienced, big-game savvy Patriots.
"We lost nine in a row last year. I think the taste in our mouths should be a little more sour than theirs," Surtain said. "I think we're ready. We have a young team. A lot of new guys haven't experienced what we went through last year. It's a clean slate, a new year and we're looking forward to it."
Surtain is a rare veteran in a youthful defensive secondary that includes rookie starter Brandon Flowers at the other cornerback.
"It's going to be a tough task but I think my young fellas back there are ready. They're ready for a challenge," Surtain said.
Another rookie starter could be Branden Albert at left tackle, who's been out since the second week of training camp with an injured foot and spent most of his college career at guard.
Edwards refused to speculate on whether Albert might start. And he was not inclined to talk about what sort of mind-set the Patriots might bring to their first regular-season game since the bitterly disappointing Super Bowl loss.
"I can't talk for those guys," he said. "I can't talk for their team. I've got my puppies that I'm taking up there. I've got to make sure they're on the plane on time. I can't worry about the Patriots' state of mind."
But Surtain was willing to take a shot.
"Revenge," he said. "They're going to go into the game with a chip on their shoulder, and so are we. It's a first game. It's an even slate. Everybody's 0-0. It's a chance to go up there and knock off a great team. And they are a great team. Our main goal is to go up there and get a win. We're not going up there for any moral victories. We really feel we have a chance to win."
Also worrisome for Chiefs fans is Edwards' recent history. His first two Chiefs teams started 0-2.