After defeating the Raiders last week, the Kansas City Chiefs now turn their attention to the Jordan Love-led Packers as they travel to Green Bay for a Sunday Night Football clash.
The Packers have been the epitome of average this season as they currently hold a 5-6 record, +7 point differential, 0 turnover differential, are 19th in offensive yards allowed per game, and 18th in yards allowed per game. Jordan Love has also been extremely average.
Despite not being a true contender, the team does have its strengths, such as their offensive line and ability to take care of the football.
If the Chiefs are going to leave Lambeau Field with a win for the first time since 2003, here are the five things they need to do:
1. Continue the trend of not turning the football over
In addition to both winning and the offense seemingly getting back on track, zero turnovers was arguably the best thing from last Sunday's win over the Raiders. It was only their second game of the season without a giveaway.
This point is pretty straightforward and not much needs to be said. The Chiefs have the better quarterback, head coach, and defense. The primary way they'll lose this game is if they have a negative turnover differential.
2. Run the dang ball
At the time of writing, the forecast at Lambeau Field around kickoff is projected to be about 25 degrees, with precipitation likely occurring earlier in the day. Even with a dry field, the Chiefs must use Isiah Pacheco in this game.
The Packers' defense is ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed per game and is 24th in yards per attempt. Green Bay is also the only team in the NFL to surrender at least 200 rushing in three different games this season. The weak link on their rush defense is definitely their interior defensive line. Kenny Clark, although a very good pass rusher, is not a great run defender. The rest of their defensive tackle group is loaded with either rookies or second-year players with a terrible track record this year against the run.
Part of the solution for the Chiefs' offensive woes will be to lean into their best players. One of those guys is Isiah Pacheco. Last week, Pacheco had one of his most productive games of the entire season, scoring 2 touchdowns for the first time in his NFL career. Deeper into the season, when it gets colder, tackling players like Pacheco becomes increasingly difficult. Kansas City needs to embrace that.
Running the football has multiple benefits. The first one is that they're good at it when they make an effort. Second, is that running on early (effectively) will put their passing game in more favorable positions. Even though the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, throwing on 2nd-and-6 is a lot easier than on 2nd-and-10. It will also force the opposing defense to have to be ready for both running and passing plays. If the defense doesn't believe a run play is coming, the pass rushers will pin their ears back and attack Mahomes in addition to getting less favorable coverages. A balanced offense leads to a more effective offense.
If the Chiefs can successfully attack one of Green Bay's biggest weaknesses, their dreadful run defense, there's a very real possibility that this is a blowout victory for Kansas City.
3. Don't go super-blitz heavy against Jordan Love
One thing that Steve Spagnuolo loves to do is call creative blitzes to confuse opposing quarterbacks, especially the inexperienced ones. It worked against Jalen Hurts two weeks ago and it can certainly be effective against Jordan Love.
One thing that should be kept in mind is that Jordan Love is surprisingly decent when facing a blitz. According to Pro Football Focus ($), Love actually has a higher grade when blitzed than when he isn't. His passer rating is also higher when blitzed (91.0 to 85.4).
The point here is that Spagnuolo should be careful when he opts to blitz. Matt Lafleur is a good offensive head coach and he will have Jordan Love prepared when he sees that a blitz is coming.
I'm not saying the Chiefs shouldn't blitz at all, as it worked wonders against Love in the matchup two years ago. Instead, it's that Spags needs to pick and choose the right moments to do so since Love is a different player than in 2021. Although Love isn't lethal against the blitz, he's not terrible either. Given how creative Spags likes to be when calling blitzes, it would be wise to dial one up at the right moment.
4. Utilize 12 personnel
One of the potential solutions to Kansas City's wide receiver problems is to just shorten the rotation. Rashee Rice has proven to be the best wideout on the team and Justin Watson (as frustrating as he's been at times) is the second-most reliable option. The Chiefs should use more 12 personnel (1 running, 2 tight ends, and 2 wide receivers) with Travis Kelce and Noah Gray and decrease the snap counts for Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore. Kadarius Toney (who should return for this game) is a gadget player until proven otherwise (as well as stay healthy), and Mecole Hardman is on injured reserve and cannot play in this game.
Even though Noah Gray isn't a fantastic receiver, it's fair to say that he's a better option than both MVS and Skyy Moore. Using fewer wide receivers would allow the Chiefs' offense to have their best combination of pass-catchers on the field and will also make it easier to run the football on early downs, which in turn will open more in the passing game.
Using more two tight end sets isn't just going to help them in this game but also help improve their offense down the road for when they begin another Super Bowl run. Skyy Moore and MVS have struggled to get open and the latter has struggled with his hands. The fewer snaps that both are on the field, the better the offense will be.
5. Don't allow the Green Bay wide receivers to make magic
The good news for the Chiefs and the bad news for the Packers is that both rookie tight end Luke Musgrave (abdomen) and star running back Aaron Jones (knee) are out for this game. Although running back A.J. Dillon is a fine player, he's not super efficient and isn't explosive as he's more of a short-yardage back.
Missing Aaron Jones and not having a viable tight end means the only possible way the Packers can move the ball in this game is if their very young wide receiver core makes stuff happen.
Christian Watson, though he's had an underwhelming sophomore season so far, is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands given his 4.36 40-yard dash time. According to PFF ($), rookie wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks is 9th in the league in yards after catch per reception at 6.3, although he was officially listed as questionable on Friday's injury report because of a knee injury.
Fellow rookie receiver Jayden Reed has also played well over the last three games but was listed as questionable after not practicing on Wednesday and Thursday due to a chest injury. Romeo Doubs is also having a nice season with seven touchdowns.
This group is tremendously talented, but also very inexperienced and unproven, which means their performances are extremely volatile. Yes, they performed well against the likes of the Lions and Chargers, but neither secondary is even in the same ballpark as Kansas City's.
If Trent McDuffie and L'Jarius Sneed can play like Trent McDuffie and L'Jarius Sneed in this game and the other corners and safeties can just be competent, which is the most likely scenario, Green Bay will struggle to move the ball. If not, the Packers have a collection of young receivers capable of creating big plays.