5 Things to Watch in Packers vs Chiefs: The Jordan Love Revenge Game

Jordan Love meets the Chiefs and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo for the second time on Sunday Night Football.  

Jordan Love vs Steve Spagnuolo

Love’s first NFL start back in November 2021 was a rude awakening, as Kansas City’s defensive coordinator Spagnuolo suffocated him and the Packers offense with blitzes, putting the second-year quarterback under constant pressure.

Considering the situation, he was thrust into, Love performed admirably, but ultimately toiled at Arrowhead, completing just 56% of his passes with one touchdown, one interception and one fumble.

Matt LaFleur took the blame after that game, and again this week, for failing to adjust his offensive plan with Love in the lineup. Spagnuolo might bring the house early to test how prepared they are this time, and then alter the gameplan accordingly if necessary.

Love is a significantly better quarterback in 2023 than he was in 2021, and both he and his head coach should be better prepared for whatever ‘Spags’ throws at them this Sunday night.

Chris Jones

Spagnuolo’s biggest weapon on a defense which has been the strength of this Kansas City team, Jones is a threat to wreck any game for the opposing offense. He has at least 7.5 sacks in each of the last six seasons (including 7.5 already this year) and had 15.5 in 2022.

He sets up everything else the Chiefs do defensively, drawing (and beating) double teams and giving his teammates more favorable matchups. Second-year pass rusher George Karlaftis leads the team with eight sacks, already surpassing his total of six from last year.

The Chiefs are not afraid to move Jones around to keep the offensive line guessing and exploit their weakest link. LaFleur produced an effective plan to keep Aidan Hutchinson quiet last week, and similarly will need to account for Jones on every snap this week.

Packers wide receivers vs Chiefs cornerbacks

After having the freedom of the Detroit secondary last week, the Packers receiving group will face a much stiffer test this time out. Kansas City has three strong corners in L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, and Jaylen Watson.

All three are above average in percentage of separation prevented, while McDuffie is PFFs fourth-best cornerback on the season. He operates primarily in the slot, meaning Jayden Reed will face a tough challenge if he is able to suit up as he deals with a chest injury.

Elsewhere, Sneed has often shadowed the top receiver on opposing teams, but that could be tough against the Packers, who do not have a clear cut ‘number one’ wideout. After a strong showing on Thanksgiving, it may be up to LaFleur to scheme his guys open this week.

Can Green Bay pressure Mahomes?

Mahomes is arguably the most talented passer the NFL has ever seen, but he has not quite been his otherworldly self so far this season.

His quarterback rating for the year is 96.3. While far from catastrophic, that mark would be a career low if it holds until the end of the campaign. He ranks 28th of out 29 qualified players in QB rating when throwing deep.

A less than stellar pair of offensive tackles could have something to do with his relative struggles. Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor rank 63rd and 72nd respectively out of 84 offensive tackles per PFF.

Still, the interior of Kansas City’s offensive line is much stouter, and effectively pressuring Mahomes without giving him lanes to escape and pick up yards on the ground is not easy.

If the Packers front, featuring Rashan Gary coming off his best game of the year, can get consistent pressure in a timely fashion, they will force negative plays and potentially turnovers which could swing the contest.

Travis Kelce

Another contributing factor to the Chiefs’ offensive issues is a lack of reliable pass catchers. Drops have plagued the team all season, and while Rashee Rice is coming along as a second-round rookie receiver, Kelce is the only truly trustworthy weapon for Mahomes.

Andy Reid and his offense have been making it work, though. Mahomes and Kelce alone are enough to craft a functional passing attack with.

For their part, the Packers defense has struggled to hold down tight ends this season, with only two teams allowing more yards per catch to the position.

Being able to hone in on Kelce without a strong receiving threat elsewhere should help, but other teams have had the same luxury all season, and he still leads the tight end position in yards this season. Limiting Kelce’s impact must be priority number one for the Packers.

 

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @MarkOldacres

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7 points
 

Comments (9)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
LeotisHarris's picture

December 02, 2023 at 03:12 pm

"Being able to hone in on Kelce without a strong receiving threat elsewhere should help..."

I get it, but let's hope the Packers move toward him and stay close rather than sharpening something.

Hone vs Home:

https://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/hone-home/#:~:text=h....)

#TheMoreYouKnow

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

December 02, 2023 at 03:44 pm

Thanks for saying/posting this. It’s driving me crazy. It seems like every sports media personality has decided to say “hone in” at least once a day. Hone = “sharpen.” You don’t “sharpen in.”
Please, people: hone your usage, and home in on your bad habits!

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splitpea1's picture

December 02, 2023 at 03:56 pm

Jordan Love: "I've definitely been waiting for this game." Good. I thought he may have had this date circled on his calendar.

Priority #1, Kelce. Obviously we don't win if we're not paying close attention to him. But, priority #2 should be Rice; he is a strong receiving threat, having caught over 78% of his chances, including 5 TDs. And then there is Pacheco, who leads the Chiefs with 50 first downs, with 40 of them coming on the ground.

There's a lot of "questionables" on our side of the injury report. How many are going to play and how are they going to perform?

Pressuring Mahomes is fine, but bringing him down is another story with his slipperiness and ability to improvise. Our secondary will have to do a good job sticking with their offensive counterparts for possibly a while longer.

The Chiefs rushing defense is about the middle of the road. Maybe Dillon can have a good game, but I think it would be better if MLF can switch on some creativity and get the ball in the hands of our speed guys a few times. It wouldn't hurt to field our best IOL out there either, although I'm not holding my breath.

4 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 03, 2023 at 01:19 am

Andy Herman raised the strategy of NOT double teaming Kelce. He won't win games by himself, and Mahomes can find other targets. Take those away from him. And if you just get him running backwards away from the LOS, he's not very effective. That's a lot easier than actually sacking him.

Obviously I have no idea what strategy GB is going to use with that, but it would be nice to see an adaptive scheme on defense.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 03, 2023 at 06:15 am

" It wouldn't hurt to field our best IOL out there either, although I'm not holding my breath."

A lot has to happen to win as last week, but this is a must. There can be no obvious weak link to exploit.

1 points
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PackEyedOptimist's picture

December 03, 2023 at 06:15 am

Given the Chief's issues stopping the run, mainly because they do risky blitzing, I think this is a game that would play into Emanuel Wilson's strength... it's a shame he got injured. :-(

Since it's going to be so cold, I think the key is going to be "which team catches the ball cleanly?" It's easy to have the ball pop out in these conditions--turnovers are likely to happen--don't be the team who has the most of them.

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Turophile's picture

December 03, 2023 at 07:56 am

We are talking the SB champions here, so I am expecting a loss. I just hope it is close.

I do think the Love love has gone a bit overboard in the last week, but then if the media didn't over-react it wouldn't be the media as we know it. If the Packers end up 9-8 or 8-9, that's ok, given the challenges of this season.

With everything the young group has gained in experience through this year, I do however expect a lot next year.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 03, 2023 at 10:19 am

I said before the season started that the O/U of 6 wins was too low for this Packers team.

I will be cashing in.

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coolhand's picture

December 03, 2023 at 02:11 pm

I would love to see Barry blitz early and often and pound Mahomes all night long

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