A few weeks ago this looked like a true David versus Goliath matchup but after three wins in four weeks, the Packers find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Win and Green Bay moves into the seventh playoff seed in the NFC with five games to play. The fact this team is playing meaningful December football after being 2-5 at one point is remarkable
The task at hand however is beating the Chiefs and this is a great game to measure how far the Packers have come this year.
APC sat down with Tom Childs from our sister site Arrowhead Pride in this week’s 5 Questions with the Enemy.
1. In a surprising development, the Chiefs were shut out in the second half for three straight games until last week. What do you think the cause of those issues were and has it been fixed?
Yeah, it took us all a bit by surprise. For years the Chiefs offense has played to such a standard, that the idea of them going 3 consecutive games without as much as a field goal in the second half seemed highly unlikely.
But this isn’t the same offense.
The Chiefs went into the season with a plan to use as many different receivers as possible — each with their own skill set. The problem was that we were not discussing a dream team of receivers. We’re talking about many guys who have never been ‘the guy’ on an NFL roster.
The lack of talent and understanding of the offense has led to some putrid offensive outputs, especially after halftime once defensive coordinators figured out that the Chiefs receivers are very limited. Drops by a certain former Packer haven’t helped either.
Thankfully, instead of going down the receiver-by-committee approach, the Chiefs have leaned into the players that have produced. Players like Skyy Moore have seen their snap counts drop, while someone like Rashee Rice has had an ever-increasing role with every passing week. This culminated in Rice having 11 targets for over 100 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders.
In turn, the Chiefs stopped the drought of second-half points.
2. Jordan Love actually drew some comparisons to Patrick Mahomes leading up to the 2020 draft. Do you think that was a fair comparison then and how do they compare now that Love has seen extended playing time?
From what I’ve seen, Jordan Love looks as composed and talented as many of the top quarterbacks when he hasn’t been under pressure. Over the last few weeks, Love has been playing the best ball of his career so far. I especially enjoyed watching him and Christian Watson find a connection at last against the Lions.
But what separates Mahomes from everyone else — including Love — is his ability when a play breaks down or when he has pressure in his face. No quarterback in the league is as good as Mahomes outside of the pocket and no quarterback has been as good against the blitz for as long as Mahomes has.
That’s not to say that Jordan Love won’t eventually get there. If I was a Packers fan I would be extremely encouraged by the progression of Love so far this season. One thing I will give Love over Mahomes recently is #10’s deep ball. When Love can stand there and sling it deep it is a thing of beauty. Mahomes’ version this particular year has been labored at best.
3. The Chiefs are fourth on defense against the pass but only 19th against the run. What’s the big reason for the discrepancy and can a young but growing Packers offense succeed against this group?
The Chiefs, like many NFL defenses are happy to be beaten by the run temporarily, as long as the pass doesn’t. I believe Green Bay adopts a similar approach.
And while the runs work for a little while, all Steve Spagnuolo needs is to force one negative rush play for his opponent and it’s game over for that drive. There have been multiple drives ended for teams because they’ve been found playing behind the eight-ball. By stopping just one run, Spagnuolo can go into his box of tricks and dial up some exotic blitzes.
If Green Bay chooses to run on Sunday, then they better have a good plan for 2nd or 3rd and long should AJ Dillon get stuffed in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. Perhaps lean into the downfield attack and see what success could be had there, as the Chiefs have made it virtually impossible to pass underneath with the likes of Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed around.
There are no real weaknesses in the Chiefs defense. Oh, how I have longed to be able to say this.
4. What do you think are some of the better DraftKings Sportsbook bets for each team? How about ones to avoid?
Any bet involving an over/under with Isiah Pacheco seems a good bet for me. The Chiefs are slowly realizing that they have someone on their team that can carry a huge workload and they’re finally steering into it. With cold weather expected in Lambeau, I’d be taking the over of Pacheco’s rushing yards at 66.5.
The Chiefs’ defense has done an excellent job against the opposition number 1 receiver this year, so ordinarily I would go for the under on the receiving yards on that guy. The issue I have this week is that I can’t firmly commit on who the Packers’ number one guy is?! So for that reason, I’m staying clear of Watson or Reed’s receiving totals at 41.5 and 44.5 yards.
Lastly, I think a nice bet is the under-on points at 42.5 points. Although the Chiefs finally topped the 30-point mark last week, I don’t expect them to repeat. I also expect the Chiefs’ defense to continue being as stingy as they have been.
5. How do you see this game playing out? The Packers are scrappy and young, but can they keep up with Mahomes and friends?
I have no doubt that the Packers can win this game. They’ve shown more than enough offensively recently that they can put up a number of points that can win this game. The big if is which version of the Chiefs offense will turn up? My hope and expectation is that Andy Reid will once again put the ball in his best players’ hands. If the Chiefs do that then theyshould be too strong for the Packers.
But if the Chiefs try to get too clever again, then the Packers are as well equipped as anyone to capatalize.
My gut instinct is that Reid has learned from previous mistakes and that the Chiefs play a professional and solid game, winning 24-17.