WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
After facing an athletic Raiders secondary that gave Damon Huard fits in their last game, the Chiefs take on another defensive backfield that will test their passing game. The Packers field one of the NFL's best cornerback tandems in Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Expect Woodson to shadow Dwayne Bowe wherever he goes. There is weakness when you look at the safeties, however.
The Chiefs can exploit Atari Bigby and Nick Collins with Tony Gonzalez, just as almost every other team has done with their tight ends when playing the Packers this year. Washington's Chris Cooley had a huge game two weeks ago, the Bears racked up over 100 yards and two touchdowns between Desmond Clark and rookie Greg Olsen, and what Antonio Gates did to these guys was criminal. It also doesn't help that Green Bay's strongside linebacker, Brady Poppinga, is abysmal in coverage.
Where the Chiefs will run into trouble, as is usually the case, is in pass protection. The Packers don't blitz much (when they do it's up the middle with Nick Barnett or AJ Hawk), but they don't have to, because their front four is more than capable. Whoever the Chiefs start at right tackle tomorrow will have trouble with Pro-Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman, the NFC's version of Jared Allen. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is extremely quick off the other edge, though he plays mostly in obvious passing situations.
The Packers use Cullen Jenkins at right defensive end on early downs, so look for the Chiefs to perhaps take advantage of that (he's not a great edge rusher) by throwing on first down quite a bit. Jenkins moves inside to defensive tackle on third downs (and is another matchup nightmare for KC's offensive line, especially after seeing John Welbourn get dominated by Warren Sapp).
WHEN THE PACKERS PASS
Don't be fooled by the two long bombs you saw Brett Favre uncork on Monday night in Denver. The Packers are not a downfield passing team, and don't have an experienced enough wide receiver corps to shred a secondary the way the Bengals might. The deep in, the post, any route over 20 yards – you won't see it with any regularity from this Packers team. They still, however, live and die by Favre's right arm.
Green Bay's passing offense is based around quick throws to the perimeter, and their receivers rack up plenty of yards after the catch – Favre usually puts the ball in the right spot, enabling them to catch the ball in stride. Donald Driver is among the league leaders in yards after catch, and is much stronger than he looks – the Chiefs had better wrap him up (that goes double for Jarrad Page). The Packers are also a heavy screen-pass team, so KC's linebackers will have to be aware.
The interesting matchup in pass protection here is Packers left tackle Chad Clifton, a Pro-Bowl alternate in 2004 and 2005, against Jared Allen. Favre has only been sacked 12 times this year, but at times there's a ton of pressure. The Chiefs should be able to get plenty of it without blitzing much.
Green Bay's offense was held in check for the entire second half of their game against Chicago, because the Bears started playing tons of Cover 2. The Washington Redskins had a successful day against Green Bay the following week with a similar gameplan, and it even worked for the Denver Broncos a bit last week. If the Chiefs bring pressure with just the front four, it could be a long day for Favre – he'll give KC's defensive backs chances to pick the ball off.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
The Chiefs couldn't run the ball consistently against a horrible run defense in Oakland. Things get much tougher this week, as they face a Packers run defense that is surrendering only 3.8 yards per carry and has allowed just two rushing touchdowns all year. It's not hard to see why – they have two massive defensive tackles.
After floundering in St. Louis, Ryan Pickett is playing well for the Packers, and next to him is another mountain of a man, second-year tackle Johnny Jolly. Throw in Jenkins at right defensive end, and that's a lot of beef to move in the running game. With two extremely athletic linebackers in Nick Barnett and AJ Hawk running around, the Chiefs have their work cut out for them.
The only good news for KC's offense is that Green Bay doesn't really have a strong run-supporting safety. There's no real hitter in the secondary to come down in the box and put fear into a running back. If the Chiefs don't block anyone, though, it won't matter.
WHEN THE PACKERS RUN
One of the few teams having even more trouble than the Chiefs in running the ball is the Packers, who rank 32nd overall and average just 3.4 yards per carry. Green Bay was able to grind out 105 yards on the Broncos last week, but don't let that fool you. The Packers simply lack the horse to carry the wagon in the run game.
The situation was already bad with seventh-round pick DeShawn Wynn attempting to carry the load. With his injury, the Packers turned to undrafted free agent Ryan Grant on Monday. Who are these guys, seriously? I'd like to be able to sit here and write something insightful about Green Bay's running backs, but right now they're just no-names.
Up front, the Packers are struggling with a pair of young guards attempting to open holes – Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge. Both are in their second year, so it's unlikely anything will improve for Green Bay until next season. The Packers will pass early and often (over 70 percent of their plays in the first half this year are passes), as they always do. The running game is an afterthought.
The Chiefs have the edge in punters tomorrow, but that's it. Green Bay picked the right rookie kicker in Mason Crosby, who is nailing his kicks and simply destroys the ball on kickoffs. The Packers also have the superior return men in rookie Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson (on punt returns), but it looks like they may use Koren Robinson on kickoffs tomorrow – he's been activated after returning from suspension. Green Bay's coverage teams are also outstanding.
Herm Edwards is 4-2 lifetime after the bye week. The Packers are finishing up their two-game road trip with a short week after an emotional Monday night victory in Denver, but Mike McCarthy is 8-3 on the road as a head coach, including an impressive 3-0 mark this year. Brett Favre is winless for his career against the Chiefs.
Kansas City's defense will give Brett Favre fits, but the Packers simply have too much defense for the Chiefs, who will likely struggle to run the ball again.
Packers 16, Chiefs 13
Film Review: Chiefs vs Packers
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