Packers' next opponent: Even without Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs still have playmakers
The Green Bay Packers will hit the road after winning their last two at home and play Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time in the regular season since 2011.
Basics on the Chiefs
Kansas City lost MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a dislocated kneecap last Thursday but beat the Denver Broncos 30-6.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid came up through Green Bay and was schooled in the old Bill Walsh-styled “West Coast” system, but Reid is one of the coaches who have advanced the system to what is seen in Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere. With a less-mobile quarterback this week, however, expect to see play action and quicker throws with calculated deep shots.
The defense is a base 4-3 and it’s run by longtime NFL defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The last time he ran top-10 defenses, however, was in 2007 and 2008 for the New York Giants. In stops in St. Louis, New Orleans and back with the Giants he has only had one top-10 unit (2016) and usually his groups trend around the bottom to bottom-third of the league.
League rank of the Chiefs’ overall passing offense and net yards per attempt (8.2).
League rank of the Chiefs’ total offense and scoring offense.
Yards per rush allowed by the Chiefs defense.
Passing touchdowns of 39 yards or more completed by the Chiefs.
Career completion percentage of new Chiefs quarterback Matt Moore, in 51 career games.
Players to watch
Matt Moore, QB
Kansas City’s third-string quarterback played the bulk of a game for the first time since Nov. 26, 2017 when he started for the Miami Dolphins. The 35-year-old came off the bench and completed 10 of 19 passes, including a 57-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill. A career backup, Moore does have 30 career starts, so the stage won’t be anything new for him – though he hasn’t played regularly as a starter since the final three weeks of the 2016 regular season.
Tyreek Hill, WR
The controversial two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler returned from an injury two weeks ago and has continued to make plays, catching eight passes for 154 yards and three scores. The injury to Mahomes changed things in the short-term, as he was limited to three catches last week – but no doubt Reid will try to find unique ways to get him the ball Sunday night. Hill has 64 career rushes and 85 career punt returns (including four touchdowns), though he has only returned one this year.
Tyrann Mathieu, S
Kansas City tried to reshape its defense in 2019, beginning by firing the entire defensive coaching staff and swapping out as many players as it could. The signing of the versatile, 27-year-old “Honey Badger” was part of that. The former All-Pro has been solid, breaking up five passes, intercepting one and making 34 tackles. He also has one sack. Mathieu can play at multiple spots in the secondary and is someone Aaron Rodgers will be looking for pre-snap.
Reasons to worry
The Chiefs are 5-2 and in first place in the AFC West and will be looking to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts for the No. 2 seed behind New England and a bye in the conference – especially as they hope Mahomes can return quickly from his scary knee injury. Reid is not just a veteran coach and play designer, he remains one of the game’s more creative offensive minds. He has 10 days to figure out a way to play with Moore under center and take advantage of a Mike Pettine defense that gives up big plays through the air and consistent ground gains.
Despite the huge downgrade at quarterback, the Chiefs still have individual playmakers that don’t suit the Packers well. Figure tight ends Travis Kelce and even Blake Bell (6-6, 252) will be big parts of the game plan. LeSean McCoy, 31, is averaging 5.4 yards per rush and Damien Williams is averaging just 1.7, but Reid may try to dictate pace on the ground as well.
Reasons to relax
No matter Reid or Moore’s experience, this team is without Patrick Mahomes. Arguably the best quarterback in football, the reigning MVP was completing 65% of his throws and had 15 touchdowns against one interception while averaging an eye-popping 9.0 yards per pass attempt. This offense is taking a huge step back.
And defensively, despite all the changes they made on that side of the ball, the Chiefs still aren’t very good at stopping anyone. They rank No. 25 in total defense and No. 13 in scoring defense. They’re one of the worst rushing defenses in the game and conversely are top 10 against the pass – largely because opponents haven’t really had to throw to have some success.