The Early Read: Packers vs. Chiefs Matchups

Bill Huber

Here are three of the defining matchups, one in each phase, as we begin our lookahead to Sunday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Packers offense vs. Chiefs defense

Kansas City’s best defender is defensive tackle Chris Jones. Last season, he had 15.5 sacks, six tackles for losses vs. the run and 74 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, his average tackle limited the play to 1.3 yards. He’s off to a quiet start to this season with two sacks and zero tackles for losses in five games, having missed the last two games with a groin injury. According to PFF, he has 22 total pressures; according to SIS, his average tackle has limited the play to 2.3 yards.

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Still, he’ll be the man to stop for the Packers interior trio of guards Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins and center Corey Linsley. Turner has been the weak link. According to Sports Info Solutions, he’s allowed three stuffs – a tackle at or behind the line vs. the run. The rest of the starting line has allowed only two (left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley). In the passing game, he’s allowed three sacks and 25 total pressures, according to PFF. Of the 60 guards to have played 50 percent of the passing snaps, Turner ranks 57th in pass-blocking efficiency.

Chiefs offense vs. Packers defense

While receiver Tyreek Hill is the game-breaking threat, tight end Travis Kelce must be salivating when he watches film. Last week against Oakland, the Packers gave up 11 receptions (15 targets) for 172 yards and three touchdowns to Raiders tight ends Darren Waller, Fabian Moreau and Derek Carrier. Waller is a rising star but Kelce, a four-time Pro Bowler, might be the best tight end in the game.

Kelce ranks third among tight ends with 38 receptions and first with 541 receiving yards. It’s a nice encore after setting an NFL tight ends record with 103 receptions last season.

Kelce is two receptions and 223 receiving yards away from reaching the 450-catch, 6,000-yards milestones. Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow is the fastest tight end to those numbers, requiring 94 games. Kelce has played in only 87 games, so he’s almost certain to blow those marks out of the water.

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The kicking game

The punting game has been the strength of Green Bay’s special teams all season, but Oakland’s Trevor Davis had returns of 32 and 15 yards last week. While the Chiefs’ primary punt returner, DeAnthony Thomas, is averaging only 4.2 yards per return, rookie receiver Mecole Hardman has returns of 36 and 20 yards on his only two runbacks. Hill is No. 1 on the depth chart. He only has one return (for 0 yards) this season but he has four career touchdowns.