It’s been a great start to the season for the Green Bay Packers. Starting with a road win against a division rival, never an easy thing to do, followed by a victory over a Seahawks team that has had their number of the past few years. Up next, the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
Now, it’s worth noting that the Chiefs have never lost a game at Lambeau Field. Sure they’ve only played there three times, four if you count the 10-10 tie in the 1973 game at Milwaukee County Stadium, but that’s impressive nonetheless. Okay, maybe it’s not that impressive. But it’s a story line you will hear several times before kickoff. They’ll have to dial up something special to stop Aaron Rodgers at home. Since the start of last season, Rodgers has thrown for 2,611 yards, 27 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in 9 games, all of which the Packers won. But that’s enough about the past, let’s look at Monday night’s game.
Green Bay Offense vs. Kansas City Defense
This is the matchup everyone will be tuning in to see. We’ll start with the Chief’s defense, a really solid unit built around a dynamic pass rush. Edge rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston form one of the better blitzing duos in the league and, though Don Barclay put in a solid shift against the Seahawks, I see trouble for Aaron Rodgers here. Houston led the league last year with 22 sacks, just half a sack shy of the single season record held by Michael Strahan.
The Packers will counter, obviously, with Aaron Rodgers. No one can escape a collapsed pocket like he can, and no one can throw on the run like he can. Expect to see a lot of both Monday night. The Chiefs like to blitz with different personnel, and with more than four rushers, which the Packers counter well with delayed hand-offs, screen passes and slants. It won’t be an easy night for the offense, but I think they have a slight advantage over this defense.
The concern for this offense is the health of receiver Davante Adams and running back Eddie Lacy, both recovering from ankle injuries suffered against the Seahawks. Fortunately, this is a very deep offense. James Starks filled in for Lacy by running for 95 yards in week 2, and Ty Montgomery stepped in and made 4 catches for 37 yards filling in for Adams.
Green Bay Defense vs. Kansas City Offense
I feel like a broken record at this point, but much like the Bears and Seahawks, the Chiefs offense matches up well against the Packers defense because they have a dynamic running back and a good tight end. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from the Packer’s defense anymore. In week 1, the Packers were torched all day long by Matt Forte and beaten several times by tight end Martellus Bennett. Then in week 2, they completely shut down Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham, an arguably better duo.
Though to be fair, I’m not sure what to expect from the Chief’s offense either. It’s a unit built around a dynamic running game and a quarterback who protects the ball. They pride themselves on limiting turnovers. But offensive turnovers lost them the game week 2 against the visiting Denver Broncos.
I expect this matchup to be pretty sloppy. The Packers will give up a few big runs, but with the way BJ Raji is playing, I think they’ll do their part to frustrate Jamaal Charles as well. I also expect the Chiefs will gain a good amount of yardage on throws to tight end Travis Kelce, who Alex Smith loves to throw to. But I also fully expect the defense to put some serious pressure on Smith with a healthy dose of blitzing. They’ll force Smith to make throws he’s uncomfortable with, and force a few turnovers.
This feels like the appropriate spot to congratulate kicker Mason Crosby on becoming the Packers all time leading scorer after nailing four field goals and an extra point against the Seahawks last week. This is a big deal and it hasn’t gotten enough attention. Well done Mr. Crosby.
The Packers special teams unit has looked fantastic so far. Ron Zook has made a big impact as the new coordinator. They’re covering kicks and punts well, and getting good production from the return game led by rookie Ty Montgomery.
The Chiefs have a solid special teams unit as well. They have solid coverage, one of the better punters in the game and a solid, though somewhat inconsistent, kicker.
This is a difficult one to predict. The Kansas City running game and pass rush both scare me, but I guarantee the Chiefs are losing sleep over how to slow down Aaron Rodgers and co. at Lambeau Field. It’s hard to imagine the Packers losing at home, given their recent form there. I see the Packers finding a way to win a very close game and improving to 3-0.