Packers Rarely Provide a Masterpiece vs. KCPosted:Sep 24th, 2015 4:34 pm
Monday night's game is the scariest test left on the home schedule. Yes, I know the Cowboys (presumable healthy) will come to Lambeau in December and we still have all three divisional opponents, plus Philip Rivers and the stout Rams defense to fend off. But there's something about the Chiefs.
It's easy to remember the 13-0 Packers having their perfect season washed away at Arrowhead a few years back. It's also true that the Chiefs haven't lost a game at Lambeau in four appearances. Then there's the 11 days of rest they've had since their last game, one which they unbelievably fumbled away in the final 36 seconds against the Broncos. They've been steaming about that one all week.
They will come in to Monday night's game, a rematch of the first Super Bowl, as seven point underdogs. I say: be careful. The Pack has been near perfect at home the past couple of years, and their success rate rises even higher when you're talking about prime time games. But...the Chiefs have a roster that is talented enough to hang with the Pack on Monday night.
Much will be made leading up to the game about the two QBs, who famously came out in the same draft, with Alex Smith selected first and Rodgers dropping in Green Bay's lap at #24. It took Smith a while to find scheme stability in KC and he is flourishing. He rarely takes chances downfield and is a check down specialist. He can also beat you with his legs when he needs to. He's smart, athletic, though a bit too careful about making mistakes. It helps when you have a top-three running back in Jamaal Charles and a top-three tight end in Travis Kelce.
This is where Dom Capers and his staff are focusing this week. One of the most cliched stats these days is the fact that Smith hasn't thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver since the 2013 season. That really is remarkable; though the addition of Jeremy Maclin should end that soon. But Charles and Kelce are game-changing players and the Pack will be hard-pressed to contain them.
Unlike Marshawn Lynch, Charles is at his best in space and he'll challenge the Pack's linebackers all night. He's also wearing the goat horns for the Denver loss and will likely be anxious to make someone pay. Kelce may be the best tight end in the league not named Gronk and there are those in KC who feel the Chiefs aren't using him enough. They will look for him early and often Monday night. It will be interesting to see how the Pack covers him.
Defensively, the Chiefs are better because they've gotten a double shot in the arm in the secondary. First the return of safety Eric Berry (from Hodgkin lymphoma) has been the brightest storyline in the league this year. Their first round pick, cornerback Marcus Peters (taken seven picks after the Vikes selected Trae Waynes), has looked like the steal of the draft in the first two weeks. Then there's Justin Houston, he of the 22 sacks last season and the guy Peyton Manning was seeing in his dreams last Sunday night. The dude is a stud and he will line up across from Don Barclay Monday night. Uh oh.
I'm not foreshadowing a Packers loss. But I do see this one as a close one that may not be decided until late. As I write this, Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams are not practicing. As we saw last week, guys like James Starks, Ty Montgomery and Richard Rodgers are up to the challenge of stepping up, but the offense is naturally not as dynamic without those two guys.
The Chiefs turned the ball over five times against Denver and will no doubt make ball security their number one priority on Monday night. If they're successful, I think they'll stick around and make us sweat a little bit. But in the end, the Pack pulls it out to go 3-0.
Packers 24 Chiefs 20