By: Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus
Charles Robinson @CRob5769
Date: Sunday, Nov. 7 | Time: 3:25 PM CST
Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)
TV: FOX | Radio : 106.5 The Wolf
Odds: Chiefs -7, O/U 48
The story this week, especially for the Packers, is about who will not be on the field as opposed to who will be. It’s been well documented since Wednesday that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will be inactive for today’s contest against the Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19. Rodgers has been defiant of the NFL’s decision (and to science in general for a bit longer it appears), but the dominos have fallen how they will, and the Packers will visit Arrowhead today behind second year signal caller Jordan Love. The Packers come to Kansas City riding a 7 game winning streak and as the NFC’s current top seed with a 7-1 record on the season. The Chiefs enjoy a second consecutive home game for the first time this season coming off of a Monday Night win against the New York Giants that evened their season record to 4-4.
For the bettors out there, the Chiefs come into this matchup with the Pack 2-6 on the season against the spread. That’s tied for 5th worst in the NFL. The only teams that the Chiefs have covered against this season are the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team. The Packers, on the other hand, are 7-1 ATS (second only to Dallas who is 7-0) and have covered the spread in each of their last 7 games. The under is 6-2 in Packers games so far this season, with 4 consecutive hitting in their games, and 4-4 in Chiefs games with the last 3 hitting. Trends would point you to believe that the Packers would cover the spread in today’s game, but the 48 point over/under is the lowest associated with a Chiefs game this season by 5 points, so the over is very much a real possibility. With Kansas City’s offense due for an explosive performance, and Green Bay likely pulling out all stops without Rodgers in the fold, I would bet this as Green Bay +7, Over 48.
Now that we’ve diced the numbers, let’s get to the product on the field. The Chiefs have a chance to string together back to back wins for the first time since they defeated Cleveland and Buffalo in the AFC playoffs en route to an embarrassing loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs in Super Bowl 55. The Chiefs offense has not seemed like themselves since that game against Tampa, but as we wrote earlier in the week, when you have Pat Mahomes behind center it’s not a matter of if the offense will turn it around, but when. The team had some outstanding stints of balance against the New York Giants, particularly when we committed to the run in a second quarter drive that saw Derrick Gore become a household name in Kansas City almost instantly. If the Chiefs commit to a balanced offensive attack this week, this should be a game they control from kickoff to final whistle.
Let’s take a look at how the Chiefs offense matches up with the Packers defense. Defensively this year, Green Bay has been solid, but it has been in large part due to a pass defense that has been opportunistic with takeaways. Green Bay ranks 4th in the NFL in pass defense, but those numbers can be a little deceiving. They have been without all pro corner Jaire Alexander since the third quarter of their week 4 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and have faced both the Washington Football Team (Taylor Heinicke) and Chicago Bears (Justin Fields) in 2 of 4 games since. While their secondary as a whole is still solid, the absence of a player like Alexander in a matchup featuring Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce across the field does not bode well for the Pack maintaining that presence as an advantage. The Chiefs need to be patient and take what they are given in the short and intermediary passing game up front against Green Bay, and wait for the big shots to open up down field as they draw safeties closer to the line of scrimmage throughout the first half. The Packers run defense is also something the Chiefs can take advantage of. The Packers are 20th in the league in run defense this season, giving up about 4.7 yards per carry to opponents. Remember what we said about the Chiefs in 2nd and 5 scenarios earlier this week? The Chiefs have to take advantage of this portion of the Packers defense for two reasons :
- Establishing balance and further helping bring the safeties up towards the of scrimmage
- Controlling the clock and keeping Green Bay’s offense off of the field
This game is a very good opportunity to allow the offense to start with the run, let Mahomes get comfortable, and coax the defense to allow us to bring some of the explosiveness we’re so used to seeing back to the playbook. Enough of the trick plays, get back to the basics, line it up, and let Creed, Trey, Joe, and the guys play some smash mouth, shoulders first football and set the tone early. The more we hit other teams in the mouth and impose our will, the less they’re going to want to come in hot to rush the passer when the game is on the line. This is a mentality, not just a strategy. If we want to make a push for another Super Bowl run this season, it starts with the Chiefs sending a message that they can fire off, be physical, and create a disadvantage for the opposing defense in multiple ways, and the offense has a great chance to start writing that book today. I’m not even going to mention the Chiefs taking care of the football in this piece, because everyone on the planet knows that needs to happen. But I don’t think the offense, Mahomes especially, needs to stress out about making mistakes. Open it up and let it fly a little bit. When they play fast and comfortable, they are at their best. The Chiefs need to line up, take advantage of what they’re good at, and just trust that ball security drills and film study will over time remedy the issues we’ve seen so far. Now, if I’m wrong on this, it could be a very difficult game to watch. The Chiefs turning the ball over multiple times and losing to the Packers without Aaron Rodgers, while Joe Buck and Troy Aikman call the game, is literally what I envision my personal hell looking like.
The Chiefs defense, even without Aaron Rodgers, is going to be in for a tough day. Despite what reports were saying about the team not surrounding Rodgers with the correct talent over the summer, you have a stable of wide receivers led by Devante Adams who many consider to be the best in football, Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon carrying the load in the running game, and an offensive line that has been exceptional so far this season. This will not be a walk in the park today for the Chiefs defense, but with the way they have been playing I am not going into this fearing that they will be a massive liability as they have in weeks past. Personnel decisions and keying on what we know they’re going to try to do to us are going to be key today. It’s not a secret to anyone who has watched the Chiefs this year that they have been vulnerable to running quarterbacks, and the screen game. Green Bay has all the weapons and more to gash us in those ways….we have to be ready for that, or it will be a long afternoon.
We know that certain players are going to be targets when they come into the game. So keeping those guys (Dan Sorensen, Ben Niemann, Anthony Hitches) on limited snap counts and out of crucial downs, distances, and situations is going to be crucial. This is going to be a big litmus test for Spags – can he get away from the black and white depth chart mentality and make some outside the box decisions on defense today? I mentioned this earlier in the week, but the square peg in a round hole approach hasn’t worked, so change is needed in sub packages. Two players who come to mind who have been just hanging out on the sidelines this year are Dorian O’Daniel and Armani Watts. I’m not saying those two would come in and be All Pro’s as they have had ample time to prove that, but would it hurt to mix it up with those guys instead of 49 and 56. I can assure you if Anthony Hitchens starts the game and takes significant snaps away from Nick Bolton and/or Willie Gay, the pitchfork mob will be calling for Spags job tomorrow, especially if the Chiefs lose. The team has been coy on exactly how much Melvin Ingram will play today, but he should be on the field to give us the first glimpse of what the new and improved Chiefs front 4 will look like for the remainder of the season. This is going to be a move that pays off in spades for our defensive line production and depth.
This is going to be a good game regardless of the quarterback on the other team – Green Bay is too talented across their roster to just come in and get blown out. But if the Chiefs handle the things mentioned above, and Mahomes take another step forward in his comfort level with the new offensive line, the Chiefs should win this one and head into Vegas next week with some good momentum to try to gain a share of first place in the West.
Chiefs 33, Packers 27