Rather than dwell on what wrinkles Bill Belichick might concoct for a matchup, Andy Reid prefers to focus on what the Kansas City Chiefs do best.
"When you play Bill and the Patriots," said the Kansas City coach, "you're going to get something different. That's where you bank on your own scheme."
The strategy paid no dividends for the Chiefs a year ago when they dropped two matchups against the reigning Super Bowl champions. Another opportunity unfolds Sunday when Kansas City (8-4) visits New England (10-2) at Foxborough, Mass.
The Patriots won 43-40 at home during the 2018 regular season and 37-31 on the road in overtime in a memorable AFC Championship Game. New England won the OT coin toss and kept the ball in Tom Brady's hands as he engineered the decisive touchdown, while Patrick Mahomes watched helplessly on the Chiefs sideline.
In those losses, Mahomes and Co. managed just nine first-half points collectively. Kansas City rallied in both games, then failed to protect fourth-quarter leads.
"The biggest thing I learned is to not get rattled," said Mahomes, "and kind of see what (the defense) is and realize it might be an unscouted look, then get us into the best play there is."
Those improvisational skills could come in handy considering two versatile threats, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Houston's Deshaun Watson, are the only QBs to beat the Patriots' rock-solid defense this season.
One noteworthy development last year found the Kansas City tandem of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce limited to four catches in the playoff rematch after combining for 12 catches in the regular-season loss.
Not that Belichick is relying on past performances to contain either threat. He sounded amused when asked if Hill was the fastest player in the NFL.
"Does anyone not think he's the fastest player in the league?" Belichick asked rhetorically. As for Kelce, "you can call him whatever you want," Belichick said, "he's one of the best receivers in the league."
Reid delivered a similar response when it was inferred that Brady is over the hill and misses the usual array of productive receivers he has had at his disposal.
"He doesn't seem to age, that's what I see. Good football player; great football player," Reid said. "He spreads it around. Same Tom."
Julian Edelman has been the only consistent force among New England receivers, contributing to a sub-par 49 percent ratio for touchdowns in the red zone. Sony Michel is a running back capable of exposing the Chiefs' rush defense, which ranks 30th.
The Patriots, who will clinch an 11th consecutive playoff berth with a win, lacked a kicker when they practiced Wednesday.
They released Kai Forbath after he missed a PAT last Sunday in a loss at Houston and began a search for their fifth kicker this season. Center Ted Karras (knee) is expected to miss the game against the Chiefs.
Two Chiefs running backs, Damien Williams (rib) and Darrel Williams (hamstring) are likely out, prompting the team to add Spencer Ware.
Kansas City cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (hamstring) and Rashad Fenton (shoulder) were withheld from practice Wednesday. Defensive end Frank Clark (shoulder) was not a full participant but he could play Sunday.