Hall Seeking One for the Thumb

It's unthinkable and improbable to even think for one split second that Dante Hall can run another kick or punt back for the fifth week in a row. As the Chiefs finalize preparations for the Green Bay Packers for Sunday's hard hitting match-up, Hall and his 5-0 Chiefs plan to continue their unbeaten streak on the season and in Lambeau field.

Despite how hard as teams try to avoid Dante Hall, they can't shake the memory of his exhilarating 93-yard punt return last week against division rival Denver. Everyone in the NFL is talking about Hall and the Packers understand the importance of keeping Hall in front of them.

The mistake Denver made last week was their attitude. They let up on Hall the last two times he touched the ball. They waited for another player to make the tackle and it didn't happen. Green Bay which is third in the league in allowing the fewest return yards will not make the same mistake on Sunday.

This should be an easy game for the Chiefs. Honestly the Packers defense is not very good. They are bad against the run and they offer little pass rush. Priest Holmes and Trent Green could have big games.

Holmes leads the NFL with 681 all-purpose yards. He's had only a single 100-yard rushing day this season, yet he is the still the most dynamic player on the field for either team. Holmes after battling injuries the last two weeks looks to be at or near 100% for the first time this season.

Priest looked like he was in game shape last weekend against Denver. This week he faces a front seven defensive unit that has struggled stopping average runners. Expect the Chiefs to run more trap plays bringing tight end Tony Gonzalez around the center to blow open holes for Holmes.

Teams have started to load up on whatever side tight end Jason Dunn lines up. The Chiefs have favored his side when running the ball and Kansas City has had too many plays blown up.

This week, they'll use Gonzalez as a decoy and use some play action passes. They used it last week against Denver in their only sustained drive of the game. The Packers secondary is good but if they bite on the play fakes then Green should be able to find big yardage down the sidelines.

Eddie Kennison and Johnny Morton have been the primary weapons for Green this season. But Gonzalez has recorded touchdown catches in two consecutive games and Marc Boerigter saw more action last week in the passing game. Though he did not catch a ball, Green did try to connect to him on a long range bomb that would have been a 50-yard gain. However, Boerigter missed the ball but it was good to see the Chiefs try to get to one of their missing playmakers.

Expect Dante Hall to be used in the offense even more this week. The Chiefs have numerous plays in their offense that allow Hall to get the ball in open spaces. Expect the Chiefs to do that this week.

On defense the task is very simple. Stop running back Ahman Green. If the Chiefs can hold him to less than 100 yards rushing, they should win. Make Brett Favre beat you. That sounds crazy but that's the way to defeat the Packers.

In their two losses this year against the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, Green was limited to short gains and Favre threw more interceptions that led to breakdowns in the offensive game plan.

The difference the last two weeks for Favre and the Packers in their two victories over the Bears and Seahawks is due to the fact Favre has moved out of the pocket to throw the ball. Nobody throws the ball better on the run than Favre.

The Chiefs need to seal the outside and if Favre is going to run, then let him do it up the middle. But when he gets on the outside or executes play action, then he usually has lanes open to his tight ends Bubba Franks and Wesley Walls.

Wide receiver Donald Driver is having a good year but the Chiefs should be able to stop him if they can bump him on the line of scrimmage. Though he has good speed, Driver likes to run precise routes. If the Chiefs can disrupt that rhythm, then they should be able to get to Favre.

Chiefs defensive end Vonnie Holliday make his Lambeau field return on Sunday and he's looking forward to playing against his old team. Holliday was limited due to a nagging groin injury last weekend against Denver but Holliday is already on record that he would be near or at 100% on Sunday.

One thing Kansas City has to overcome is the crowd at Lambeau field. The Chiefs struggled in Baltimore with poor field position. Kansas City must strike quickly on offense and the defense or Hall needs to make an early play that takes the crowd out of the game.

The Packers are not a come-from-behind team any longer. Though they have Favre, he has a tendency to take far too many chances when his team is either losing or behind late in a game. The Packers offense struggled the first three weeks because Favre was not more of a focal point in the offensive decisions.

If Kansas City can strike quickly like they did in the Chargers game and the defense can put the clamps on Green, then Kansas City should have a relatively easy time defeating the Packers.

With the Packers having to concern themselves with the Chiefs offense and the Kansas City special teams, that means the Chiefs will have the edge in two of the three phases that determines wins and losses each week. That might be too much for the Packers to overcome even at home especially if Hall gets that one for the thumb early in the game.

Nick's Notes:

*Dante Hall won his forth consecutive NFL special teams player of the week award. The only other person in NFL history to do the same thing was former Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana. However Montana did it with the San Francisco 49ers.

* The Chiefs are undefeated at Lambeau field in fact they've won four of their last five meetings against the Packers during the regular season. Kansas City defeated the Packers in back to back seasons in 1989 and 1990 under then head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Former Chiefs running back Christian Okoye carried the ball over 60 times in those two victories as the Chiefs defeated the Packers 21-3 and 21-6 respectively. The Chiefs are one of three teams that Green Bay has never defeated at home. The others are the new Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

* You might be seeing Brett Favre for the last time against the Chiefs. Some in the local media believe that he will retire either at the conclusion of this year or after the 2004 season. However, it's possible that these two teams could meet in the Super Bowl in February in Houston.

* Dick Vermeil only boasts a 2-2 lifetime record against the Packers. He was 1-2 as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and lost to them in their one and only appearance as head coach of the St. Louis Rams.

* The Chiefs are now in un-chartered waters with their 5-0 start. It's the longest streak in the franchises 43 year history. If they can go 6-0 this weekend, then the Chiefs could surpass Vermeil's record for wins starting a season with their seventh win in Oakland a week from Monday. Vermeil has won six in a row with to start a season with both the Eagles and Rams.

Fearless Prediction : Chiefs 27 – Packers 14

Season Record : 4-1

2003 Game Recaps

Week #5: Chiefs 24 – Broncos 23 Week #4 : Chiefs 17 – Ravens 10 Week #3 : Chiefs 42 – Texans 14 Week #2 : Chiefs 41 - Steelers 20 Week #1: Chiefs 27 - Chargers 14

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