Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will put Packers' defense to the test

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
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Eighth in a 13-part series on the opponents the Green Bay Packers will face during the 2019 regular season.

GREEN BAY – The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off one of the top five offensive seasons in the last decade. They racked up 6,810 yards (425.6 yards per game) of total offense and posted the No. 2 scoring season in the last decade by putting up 565 points (35.3 points per game). The end result was a thrilling overtime loss to New England in the AFC championship game that may yet get the playoff overtime rules changed.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is now 1-5 in conference championship games (he was 1-4 in Philadelphia) and just 2-7 in the postseason since 2008. But in the regular season his teams rarely lose and they also don’t typically backslide after big seasons. In 12 seasons when Reid’s teams have won at least 10 games, they won 10 or more games the next year eight times.

This year should be interesting, however, as the Chiefs enter 2019 with some legitimate questions on offense. Sixth-year running back Damien Williams has been named their starter but has never rushed for more than 256 yards in a season. They added 28-year-old Carlos Hyde as a backup, but neither player is quite as dynamic as Kareem Hunt (whom the Chiefs released after 11 games last season). And through the air, for as exciting as quarterback Patrick Mahomes was, 49% of all completions and attempts went to just two players — Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. That pair also accounted for 55% of all passing yards and 44% of all passing touchdowns. Can they sustain such levels in a second straight year?

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles against Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark during a Dec. 23, 2018, game.

Here are three things to know about the Chiefs:

Defensive facelift

Twelve wins and the most prolific offense in football masked just how bad the Chiefs' defense was in 2018 — and they were nearly able to hide it all the way to the Super Bowl until Tom Brady picked it part in the AFC championship game. So, Reid cleaned house. Not only are all the defensive coaches from last season gone, but they jettisoned starting pass rushers Dee Ford and Justin Houston and safeties Eric Berry and Ron Parker. Enter Frank Clark (Seattle), Tyrann Mathieu (Houston), Bashaud Breeland (Green Bay), Alex Okafor (New Orleans) and Damien Wilson (Dallas) to the revamped defense. And coordinating that group is Steve Spagnuolo, who was out of the league in 2018. Spagnuolo is best known for coordinating the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants in 2007.

MVP Part II?

Since the NFL began handing out a Most Valuable Player award, a player has won it in back-to-back seasons only five times (Peyton Manning did it twice). It’s not easy to replicate historic individual campaigns, but that is what Mahomes is hoping to do in just his second season as a starting quarterback. Mahomes will turn 24 on Sept. 17, and he threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He also ran for nearly 300 yards and another two scores. Mahomes’ athleticism and command of the offense — and ability to throw no-look passes without fear of interceptions — make him not just fun to watch but hard to game plan for. At least that was the case in 2018. It will be interesting to see how defenses react to him this year, and how he reacts to new game plans.

Tyreek Hill situation

Shortly after rumors were floated that the Chiefs were looking to make Hill the highest paid wide receiver in football, the 25-year-old Hill became embroiled in another domestic violence imbroglio with his fiancé and involving the couple’s young son. At press time, the legal part of that case remains unresolved. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell does not operate within the law when it comes to handing out discipline under the broad personal conduct policy. In short, Hill’s son had been removed from the home for the child’s safety and Hill’s fiancé produced threatening audio clips. On paper the league says the initial suspension for domestic violence is a minimum of six games, but that has not always held true. The Packers visit the Chiefs in Week 8.

Packers schedule glimpse

Oct. 27 at Chiefs, 7:20 p.m., NBC

Week before: vs. Oakland, Oct. 20.

Week after: at Los Angeles Chargers, Nov. 3.

On the horizon: vs. Carolina, Nov. 10.

Kansas City Chiefs

Coach: Andy Reid (195-124-1 overall, seventh season with Chiefs).

2017 record: 12-4, first in AFC West.

Scoring offense: 35.3 points per game (First in NFL).

Total offense: 425.6 yards per game (First).

Scoring defense: 26.3 points per game (24th).

Total defense: 405.5 yards per game (31st).

Series: Chiefs lead, 7-4-1

Last meeting: These teams last met Sept. 28, 2015, with the Packers winning 38-28 at Lambeau Field to start 3-0, a winning streak they would extend to six games. The Packers had a 38-14 lead until late in the fourth quarter thanks to three Randall Cobb touchdown receptions from Aaron Rodgers. James Jones (139 receiving yards) and Ty Montgomery also caught scoring passes as Rodgers posted a 138.5 rating on 24 of 35 passing for 333 yards. Clay Matthews had two sacks while Mike Daniels (1.5), Nick Perry, Jayrone Elliott, Joe Thomas and Mike Neal (half sack) all brought down Alex Smith.

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