Skip to main content

Know the KC Chiefs' Week 13 Opponent: Key Facts About the Green Bay Packers

In a Sunday night battle between two teams with dominant December résumés, the clash between the Packers and Chiefs should be one to remember.

It took all of five minutes for Jordan Love to be asked about the difficulties that came with facing the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense in his first-ever game back on Nov. 7, 2021. On Sunday Night Football, both sides of that battle — both of which have improved since that day — will again collide as the defending champion Chiefs travel to Lambeau Field to battle the Green Bay Packers.

Both teams are riding high off of signature wins, with the Packers topping an NFC elite in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day and the Chiefs in a resilient come-from-behind win over the Raiders last Sunday.

Perhaps the favorite researched stat of the week: Matt LaFleur enters sporting an almost unprecedented 15-0 record in December. Almost just as dominant, Andy Reid is 16-1 in December dating back to 2019.

Something has to give, and here’s what’s worth considering ahead of Sunday’s game:

One obvious key: What tricks will Spags have for the NFL’s youngest team?

Ask anyone but a hardcore fan to name four Green Bay receivers, and you’re likely to be in for quite the wait. Entering the 2023-24 campaign with the league’s most youthful roster — an average age of just 25.1 — the Packers command some credit for accelerating their rebuilding curve; they remain just one game out of the NFC’s final wild-card spot.

Sprinkling in something Chiefs-related, Sunday’s game will offer the NFL’s youngest offense against its youngest defense. These are subject to change, but here’s something to consider:

In a way, it’s become part of the Packers’ allure, particularly within the NFL’s youngest receiver room. With little to scout, defenses appear unsure of how to cover their ambitious bunch. In recent weeks, Jayden Reed has emerged — putting together 349 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns over his last five — and he appears poised to continue Green Bay’s lineage of second-round wideout gems. Provided the absence of already-ruled-out Aaron Jones, it’d be no surprise to see them utilize him on jet sweeps and reverses, as they’ve already done.

Romeo Doubs is quietly tied for fifth(!) in the league in touchdowns (7); Christian Watson is coming off of a season-best seven-catch, 94-yard outing, alongside Dontayvion Wicks and Malik Heath, unsung heroes in successive weeks.

So, how will the Chiefs deal with it?

With elite talent at each defensive level, they appear equipped to overcome it. Their aggressive, press man-to-man coverage means a longer time to throw for Jordan Love, which opens up the pandora’s box.

Despite dazzling displays with off-platform throws in those playground-type situations, all 10 of Love’s interceptions have come when he holds the ball more than the recommended 2.5 seconds. Just as fascinating, all 10 of those interceptions have come in games where Green Bay is trailing, compared to zero when leading or tied. So the offense will play a role here, too.

Commentators used the word “jittery” to describe Love in his first-ever game against the Chiefs’ blitzes back in 2021. He’s come quite a long way, but the numbers still somewhat speak for themselves. Getting open quickly has been a talking point for Green Bay this week.

One subtle key: Running from the “Pack”

In studying Packers games throughout the week, one couldn’t help but notice how successful teams are in terms of rushing the ball against them. Despite a season-saving 2-1 stretch over their last three games, Green Bay’s yards per carry allowed (5.4) over that stretch ranks second-worst in the NFL. Six different players have rushed for at least 50 yards against them over the aforementioned span.

Perhaps more specifically, Joe Barry’s group isn’t particularly disciplined in containing scrambles from the quarterback. Despite the seventh-ranked blitz rate, here’s a tally of how quarterbacks have fared on the ground against them:

  • Desmond Ridder: rushed for a career-high 39 yards in Week 2
  • Jared Goff: both season-high rushing totals against Green Bay in Week 4 and 12
  • Russell Wilson: a season-long run against them in Week 7
  • Kenny Pickett: rushed for a season-high 16 yards in Week 10
  • Justin Herbert: rushed for 73 yards (second most of his career) in Week 11.

The Chiefs don’t put Patrick Mahomes in harm’s way often, à la the designed runs that Ridder and Herbert had, but the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player routinely ranks among the top in EPA per scramble.

Against a team that fits the classic mold of blitzing often but failing to get home, lanes to rush will be there for the taking. Factoring in the weather, rain and snow could make the ground game all the more important.

What are the Packers saying ahead of Week 12?

“I’ve definitely been waiting for this game.” — Jordan Love. The Packers’ potential franchise quarterback spoke at length about how prepared he feels this go-round with the Packers seeking to get to 6-6. According to PFF, with a win, their postseason chances skyrocket to 63%, compared to 37% with a loss.

"He wants to be out there. He's had two pretty good days yesterday and today — so hopefully that continues and he has a great Friday tomorrow." — Joe Barry on the status of two-time Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander.

DVOA Ranks

  • Total DVOA: Chiefs, No. 3 | Packers, No. 19
  • Offensive DVOA: Chiefs, No. 5 | Packers, No. 16
  • Defensive DVOA: Chiefs, No. 8 | Packers, No. 18
  • Special Teams DVOA: Chiefs, No. 8 | Packers, No. 30

Prediction: Chiefs 26, Packers 16