In 2019, the Packers played the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, with the expectation of an exciting matchup between Mahomes and Rodgers. Unfortunately, Mahomes was ruled out of that game with an injury. The Packers ended up winning 31-24. But this year, we got our wish. With the NFL expanding to 17 games, the NFL chose the Packers to meet the Cheifs again so we can finally witness this elite quarterback matchup.
On Wednesday, Rodgers tested positive for COVID and was later found out to be unvaccinated. Throughout the sports world (and even the political one) the conversation has now changed to Rodgers vaccination status and the controversy surrounding his decision to not be forward about it. People forget there is still a powerhouse game to be played Sunday.
So let’s put all the distractions to the side, and focus on what to keep an eye on during the Packer Chiefs game this Sunday.
Jordan Love gets to Shine in Packers Chiefs game
The main story is obviously the first career start of first-rounder Jordan Love. This won’t be Love’s first action this season though. He came in during the 4th quarter of the Packers-Saints massacre in Week 1 and did okay. But he will have to make his debut on national television against former MVP Patrick Mahomes. That’s a lot to ask from Love. But he has shown confidence this week that he’s prepared for the challenge.
In order for Love to succeed, he can’t try to replace Aaron Rodgers; because there is no one like Aaron. He has to play the game in his style, attacking the outside early. In the preseason, Love would take advantage of holes in the cover 2 defense (which Kansas City uses often) on short routes outside. He used play-action often, then threw it back to the running back on a flat. Once the defense started over-correcting, he would take deep shots down the middle of the field with great accuracy.
Expect Love to exploit this in the Packers Chiefs game. Kansas City’s defense is soft, but they have still made the Super Bowl back-to-back seasons. It will be important for Love to not get aggressive early, but take his shots when open. It will also be interesting how often Love gets out of the pocket. At Utah State, he had a tendency to leave the pocket to his left if his first read wasn’t open. With Elgton Jenkins at Left Tackle, Love should do that often.
Packers Defense has been Red Hot
After struggling to start the season, Joe Barry’s defense has really hit its stride. In the last five games, the Packers haven’t allowed more than 22 points (while causing 10 turnovers). That’s not even mentioning it’s without their best two players in Jaire Alexander and Zadarius Smith. So who has stepped up?
De’Vndre Campbell: the steal of the 2021 free agency. He has filled a hole at middle linebacker that has been empty since AJ Hawk. In October, he won NFC Defensive Player of the Month, for good reason.
There has only been one weakness to this Packers defense: the deep ball. Ja’Marr Chase got two in week 5. Against the Cardinals, the game started with a deep ball to Hopkins in blown coverage.
JA’MARR CHASE YET AGAIN 💥pic.twitter.com/BkdtKFeVR7
— PFF (@PFF) October 10, 2021
In the last 3 years, no team has been better at long plays than the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill gets behind defense better than everyone else, so rookie Eric Stokes should shadow Hill throughout the game. That will be the biggest matchup in this Packers’ Chiefs game.
Young Packers will have to Step Up
Jordan Love is the main guy that needs to show up Sunday, but other young guys have a chance to shine.
AJ Dillon has been the breakout star on offense this year for the Packers. He has slowly gotten more carries, and been given the rock in important moments. Now he gets to play with his best friend on the team: Jordan Love. We might see what happened during the Arizona game, with Aaron Jones lined up wide with Dillon getting the rushing attempts. They are both explosive athletes, so getting them on the field as much as possible is important.
Love isn’t the only 2nd year who is making his first start. Josiah Deguara is projected to be starting at Tight End following the Robert Tonyan injury last week. We haven’t seen much from Deguara, as he had his own season-ending injury last season. But what we have seen has been promising. He has breakaway speed to take short passes for 15-20 yards.
Another Matt LaFleur play call I really liked, this time a TE screen to Josiah Deguara. Pretty simple but effective at taking advantage of Arizona's aggressive defensive front pic.twitter.com/CH1jSsjs66
— Jack Brentnall (@Jack_Brentnall) October 30, 2021
He is often the H-Back in heavy formations for the Packers and has proven to be a great blocker. Deguara will most likely get a career-high in snaps, so it will be interesting how the Packers use him.
The Packer’s best rookie this season has been Eric Stokes, who has filled in as the lock-down corner with Jaire out. He has great closing speed and has a great IQ when it comes to jumping routes. His one weakness has been getting beat in deep routes. With Stokes shadowing Tyreek Hill, this will be his biggest test in his career. Stokes will get safety help from Savage and Amos, but it will be up to him to stop the Chiefs’ offense from being explosive.
Packers Chiefs Predictions
Jordan Love is going to surprise a lot of people on Sunday. He will start the game timidly, not taking many deep shots. But he will explode in the second half, exposing the porous Chiefs Defense. Love will throw for over 250 yards and two touchdowns while relying heavily on the run game. Dillon will have his second breakout game of the season, totaling almost 100 yards and getting in the endzone.
While the Chiefs’ offense will get back on track, their defense will let them down. With a week filled with controversy and media scrutiny, the Packers will walk into Arrowhead victorious. However, with Love playing great, a new controversy will start in Green Bay: Rodgers or Love for next year. I can’t wait.
Packers 31 – Chiefs 27