A potential Super Bowl preview is on tap for Sunday Night Football this week, with the Green Bay Packers on the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, it won’t be the matchup of superstar quarterbacks many had been hoping for, as the Chiefs will be without Patrick Mahomes, who is out following a dislocated kneecap suffered in Kansas City’s last game.
The Packers have been nearly perfect this season, coming into this contest with a 6-1 record, with their only loss coming at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. Green Bay needs this win to stay alone on top in the NFC North, as Minnesota is right behind it with a 6-2 mark.
Kansas City has stumbled a bit in the last few weeks, dropping two of their last three, but it is still in first place in the AFC West with a 5-2 mark. The Chiefs are two games ahead of the Oakland Raiders in the division standings, but they want as many wins as possible to battle for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.
The moneyline for this contest has the Green Bay Packers -230 and the Kansas City Chiefs +190. Green Bay is favored by five points on the road, while the over/under for the game has been set at 47.5.
Starting To Roll
Green Bay’s offense started the season slow, but based on the team’s last outing, things seem to be better. Aaron Rodgers accounted for six touchdowns in a win over Oakland last weekend, throwing for five and running for another. On the season, the veteran has thrown for 2,019 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has been without top receiver Davante Adams for the last couple of weeks, but it hasn’t mattered, as other players have stepped up in Adams’ absence.
The Green Bay defense started fast this season but has been giving up points a bit more of late. On the season, the Packers are allowing just 19.9 points, but teams have scored at least 22 points in each of their last four games. The pass-rushing tandem of Preston Smith (seven sacks) and Za’Darius Smith (six sacks) will make life difficult for Kansas City quarterback Matt Moore. Linebacker Blake Martinez, the league leader with 76 tackles, is listed as questionable for the game with a wrist injury.
Next Man Up
He’s not Mahomes, but Moore has plenty of experience and should be able to get the ball to the Chiefs’ playmakers. Moore threw for 117 yards and a touchdown in relief of Mahomes against the Broncos last week, and Kansas City will certainly tailor its offense to his abilities with time to prepare. Tyreek Hill will be a key for the Chiefs with his ability to make a big play out of a short pass. Tight end Travis Kelce will also be a good outlet for Moore if he’s feeling pressure. Look for LeSean McCoy (322 yards, two touchdowns) to get more work as the Chiefs try to control the clock a bit and keep Rodgers and the Packers offense off the field.
The Chiefs don’t have a dominant pass-rusher, but defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (3.5 sacks), defensive end Frank Clark (three sacks) and linebacker Alex Okafor (three sacks) can all get to the quarterback. They’ll need to be on their games against Rodgers, though he is one of the most difficult signal-callers to get to the ground. Kansas City is in the bottom third of the league in pass defense, allowing 228.6 yards per game, so it could get ugly against Rodgers.
Packers Keep Rolling
Rodgers seems to relish the opportunity to outdo a highly-regarded opponent and prove himself on the big stage. He won’t have Mahomes to duel against, but Kansas City is a favorite to make the Super Bowl when it has its MVP quarterback, so Rodgers will certainly be amped for this one. The Chiefs won’t have an answer for the Green Bay offense in this one. I‘m taking the Packers -5 to earn the road victory.