If the Kansas City Chiefs want to continue getting their season back on track, they need to take care of business against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. If they don't do so, they'll be letting the entire NFL know that they aren't for real and this isn't their year.
Many still aren't taking the reigning back-to-back AFC champions lightly due to the Super Bowl-winning core still being on the team. The Chiefs' offense has sputtered in recent weeks, largely due to turnovers and uncharacteristic play from quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Before that, despite giving the ball away at an absurd rate, it was arguably the best unit in the league. Defensively, the team is flashing improvement due to the breakouts of young linebackers Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton, as well as the defensive line undergoing some renovation. Writing the Chiefs off after a 4-4 start to the season, all things considered, still might be premature.
If they can't beat the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, though, that would likely change things quite a bit. Marlow Ferguson Jr. of Arrowhead Report joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast — Marlow's debut! — to preview Sunday's game and further emphasize what the outcome of the contest will say about Kansas City.
Much like the Giants game, a Chiefs win won't prove that the team is back, per se. With that said, even without Rodgers, Green Bay has a very good amount of talent on its roster. Defeating the 7-1 Packers would say quite a bit more than narrowly defeating the now 2-6 Giants. Still, given that Jordan Love is making his starting debut in this game, it wouldn't spell out that the Chiefs' problems are fixed and they can be considered legitimate contenders again. That was part of the expectation earlier in the week but with Rodgers out due to COVID-19 protocols, the magnitude of a potential win goes out the window.
On the flip side, a Chiefs loss would be devastating. Sure, it's not extremely hard to climb out of a 4-5 hole. It is, however, hard to claim to be a top team in the AFC when you lose to the actual top teams in the AFC and an NFC opponent without their best player. Upcoming matchups with the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys represent some tough sledding moving forward, so things won't exactly get easier for the Chiefs. If the Packers aren't an inferior opponent with the reigning MVP watching from home, Andy Reid's squad is in trouble.
A win likely doesn't do a ton in regards to the general feeling about the Chiefs. Winning two games in a row would almost surely boost the team's confidence and some positive in-game trends can suggest that continued improvement is on the way, but even a double-digit victory over Love and company just won't mean as much. A loss, however, would speak volumes. That dichotomy is unfair, but it's the position the Chiefs have put themselves in. They aren't back until they can string together wins against quality opponents, and the quality of a hypothetical win on Sunday isn't what it was before Rodgers was ruled out. On the flip side, the repercussions of a hypothetical loss simply become that much worse.
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