While the Packers are preparing to host their second consecutive game under the bright lights of Lambeau Field, many of the same challenges they faced with Seattle await them against Kansas City. The combination of a lethal rushing attack and stout defense make this team a legitimate contender in the AFC and a potential thorn in the side of the Packers.
Green Bay may have passed a big test in Week 2, but this matchup is certainly not one to overlook. As always, there are a few aspects of the game that could go a long way in determining the outcome. Let's touch base on a few.
Aaron Rodgers may have been able to stay upright for the majority of the game last Sunday night, but not all the credit is due to the offensive line. Rodgers flushed the pocket to make plays more than I can recall in the recent past, due in large part to a consistent pass rush. More of the same could be in store on Monday night.
Justin Houston, who led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014, comes to town with three sacks already under his belt this year. Likely going up against backup tackle Don Barclay, Rodgers will again need to have his head on a swivel and be ready to scramble on a moment's notice.
Depth at playmaker positions
The offense didn't miss a beat last week when rookie wide receiver Ty Montgomery and running back James Starks filled in for injured starters Davante Adams and Eddie Lacy. Both have been limited in practice this week with sprained ankles and their status for Monday night remains up in the air.
Head coach Mike McCarthy has expressed confidence in both Montgomery and Starks and is not afraid to give them a full workload. They both played key roles in closing out the Week 2 victory, and the offense kept on rolling with them in the game. Starks produced over 100 yards from scrimmage while Montgomery hauled in four key passes to help seal the win. Even if Lacy and Adams suit up on Monday they could be limited, giving the backups an increased role.
For the second week in a row this is a focal point leading up to the game, although for different reasons. While the Packers limited Marshawn Lynch to just 41 yards due in part to excellent interior penetration, Jamaal Charles poses a different threat. Now, the edge of the Green Bay defense will be put to the test. Charles is one of the premier open-field runners in the game today and is deadly when he manages to get around the edge and in to space.
While much was asked, and ultimately delivered, from B.J. Raji a week ago, it will now be on the outside linebackers to set the edge and force Charles inside. Guys like Nick Perry and Julius Peppers, among others, will have their hands full and can impact how the game plays out. The more success Kansas City has running the ball and controlling the clock, the more time Rodgers spends on the sideline. That has been, and always will be, the key to beating a Rodgers-led team. Do not let him have the ball in his hands. We'll see if the Chiefs will be successful with that strategy on Monday night.