Pick-Six Preview: Packers at Chiefs
Green Bay Packers (6-1) and Kansas City Chiefs (5-2
The vitals: 7:20 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
TV: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya).
Series: The Chiefs lead the regular-season series 7-3-1. Green Bay’s .318 winning percentage against Kansas City is its worst against any team. Not included in that is Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl I, a 35-10 victory in which Bar Starr won MVP honors.
The last time: On Sept. 28, 2015, the Packers beat the Chiefs 38-28 at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers was 24-of-35 passing for 333 yards and five touchdowns. Rodgers hadn’t had another five-touchdown passing performance until Sunday’s victory over Oakland.
The Chiefs started this season on the short list of prime Super Bowl contenders. After all, with MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, they had reached the AFC Championship Game in 2018. Instead, Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap on Thursday against Denver. He hasn’t been ruled out for this game, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be back in a few weeks, either. That means the fate of the Chiefs’ season might be in the hands of 35-year-old Matt Moore.
Moore wasn’t even in the league last season. Instead, he was a high school assistant football coach. But the Chiefs needed a backup when Chad Henne went down in the preseason, and coach Andy Reid called Moore. Moore was good enough to finish what Mahomes started in a rout of the Broncos.
“It’s hard to be a relief pitcher, but he’s done it before and there’s a certain way to prep for that,” Reid said on Friday. “He understands that and it paid off for him. The best part is we didn’t have to change up a lot of things. The hard thing to do is if one guy comes in, the backup comes in, and you have to change the whole offense right away. That’s a tough deal. We didn’t have to do that with him.”
His top weapon
There isn’t a more dangerous player in the NFL than Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill. He’s arguably the fastest player in the league and he knows how to use it. With Mahomes, they were a touchdown waiting to happen. Since entering the league in 2016, Hill is tied with Antonio Brown with a league-leading 37 touchdown receptions and No. 1 outright with 46 receptions of 25-plus yards. Last season, when he caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns, he had 22 catches of 25-plus yards – a whopping six more than anyone else. Having missed four games with a shoulder injury, Hill has 10 catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns in three games this season. Presumably, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will match Jaire Alexander against Hill.
Last year’s Chiefs defense was led by outside linebackers Dee Ford and Justin Houston. Coached by Mike Smith, they combined for 22 sacks and 12 forced fumbles. However, Reid blew up his defense. Out went Ford, Houston, Smith (who now holds the same position in Green Bay) and the Chiefs’ 3-4 scheme. In came a 4-3 scheme coordinated by Steve Spagnuolo. The heartbeat of the new defense is defensive tackle Chris Jones. Jones had a monster 2018 with 15.5 sacks but only two sacks in five games this season. After missing the last couple games with a groin injury, he hopes to be back in the lineup to face Green Bay.
65: Touchdown passes and 7,561 yards in 24 career games, all starts, by Mahomes. In 51 career games, including 30 starts, Moore has thrown 46 touchdown passes and for 7,055 yards.