Maggie’s Pre-Game Six Pack - 2023 Week 13

The 5-6 Packers are home this week after a mini-bye from Thanksgiving to take on the reigning NFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The 8-3 AFC contenders come to Lambeau Field for a Sunday Night Football showdown. Here are six things to keep in mind heading into the primetime contest. 

1. Made for December

Head Coach Matt LaFleur holds an incredible 15-0 record in the month of December as the coach of the Green Bay Packers. When the Chiefs come to town Sunday Night, it’ll be the second consecutive season the Packers have hosted the defending Super Bowl champions. Per the dope sheet, this marks the first time in franchise history Green Bay has done so, with both games occurring in the month of December and both games being primetime contests. (The Packers hosted the Rams in Week 15 of last season on Monday Night Football.)

Against the Chiefs, LaFleur holds a 1-1 record with both games taking place at Arrowhead Stadium. This is the first time in LaFleur’s tenure that the Chiefs will come to Lambeau Field. On the opposing sideline, Kansas City coach Andy Reid also has an even coaching record against the Packers going 6-6, including a 1-1 record in the postseason. 

The last time the Packers hosted the Chiefs (in 2015), Green Bay won 38-28. It was the first regular-season win for the Packers at home against Kansas City in franchise history. 

2. My Kingdom for a Stout Defense

The Chiefs rank third in the league in points against this season, allowing only 16.5 points per game. This is a stark contrast from the Super Bowl-winning 2022 squad that ranked first in the league in points for and 16th in the league in points against, allowing 21.7 points per game. 

The 2023 team is still putting up an average of 23.3 points per game, good for 11th in the league, but they aren’t lighting up opposing defenses quite like they did last season. Instead, their aggressive defense has kept them in contention as the offense works to find its rhythm (but more on that in a bit). 

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit is fourth in total yards allowing an average of 290 yards per game. It’s also fourth in passing yards, giving up an average of only 176.6 yards through the air each contest. When it comes to rushing yards, though, the Chiefs defense ranks 19th, allowing 113.4 yards per game on the ground. The unit is also ranked 28th in the NFL when it comes to rushing yards per attempt, giving up 4.6 yards per carry. 

There are plenty of headliners to look out for when it comes to the Chiefs defense. George Karlaftis leads the team with eight sacks with Chris Jones only a half-sack behind at 7.5. The pair have combined for 14 tackles for loss and 27 quarterback hits. Jordan Love didn’t take any sacks in Week 12 against the Lions, but the Packers offensive line will have its work cut out for them against a defense ranked fourth in sacks (37) that’s generating an average of 10 pressures per game. 

3. Interception Adverse 

While the pressures are coming for both teams after Rashan Gary’s three-sack performance against the Lions last week, neither team is racking up a ton of interceptions this season. The Chiefs have five players with one or more picks for a total of six, and the Packers have four players with one or more interceptions for a total of five. 

L’Jarius Sneed leads the Chiefs secondary with two interceptions and eight passes defensed. Possibly the biggest name to keep an eye out for, though, is cornerback Trent McDuffie. He’s the highest graded defender on the Chiefs per Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.0 and has a whopping five forced fumbles with two sacks and six passes defensed. 

The Packers sit at exactly zero when it comes to turnover differential, giving the ball away 12 times and taking the ball away 12 times. The Chiefs, however, have a minus-five turnover differential with 14 takeaways and 19 giveaways. Week 12 was actually Kansas City’s first game all season without a turnover on either side of the ball. Meanwhile, the Packers have gone two games playing turnover-free on offense and are coming off their best defensive performance of the season, having forced three turnovers against the Lions, all fumble recoveries. 

4. Clash of Quarterbacks

We’ve talked a lot about defense. Let’s talk about the quarterbacks. In Week 12, Love threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 125.5. That was his third game with three touchdowns and no interceptions which was the most for any Packers quarterback in his first 12 career starts. It was also the highest quarterback rating of his career.

Patrick Mahomes also had one of his better games of the season in Week 12 against the Raiders, putting up 298 yards with two touchdowns for a rating of 122.8. He’s only taken 14 sacks all season which is the lowest total in the league. Stopping the Chiefs offense rests solely on Green Bay’s ability to stop Mahomes, and getting pressure on him is one of the trickier things to do in the NFL. 

You’ve heard about this storyline all week, but let’s talk about it again for comparison’s sake. When the two teams last met in November of 2021, Love was making his first career start. The Chiefs won 13-7 in a low-scoring affair. In that game, Love was 13-of-34 for 190 yards, one touchdown, and one interception for a rating of 69.5. Mahomes went 20-of-37 for 166 yards with one touchdown and no picks for a rating of 74.8. 

Does a game from over two years ago mean anything going into Sunday Night Football? No. Mahomes had already won a Super Bowl by that point. But it’s fun to look at the numbers from Love’s first career start and see how much he’s developed in the 11 games since then. 

On the year, Love has thrown for 2,599 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, giving him a quarterback rating of 87.4. He’s had a passer rating over 100.0 in five games this season, with three of those games coming in the last four weeks (125.5 against the Lions, 108.5 against the Chargers, and 115.5 against the Rams). 

5. All Hands on Deck

Now we segue into the two offenses and how they’re both finding their rhythm as the season progresses. Like I mentioned in the second section, it’s weird to see a Patrick Mahomes-led offense rank 11th in the league in points for (23.3 points per game average) with a third-ranked defense in points against. 

Before Week 12, Mahomes had thrown for 240 yards or less in three straight contests. His completion percentage had also dipped in the three-game stretch that included losses against the Broncos and Eagles. Some of that, though, can be attributed to his supporting cast. 

Outside of Travis Kelce who’s considered the best at his position for a reason (70 receptions for 732 yards and five touchdowns), Mahomes hasn’t had a ton of help from his receiving core. Rookie receiver Rashee Rice looks like the real deal with 44 receptions for 527 yards and five scores, but the rest of his receivers have dropped the ball, both figuratively and literally, all season. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Kadarius Toney all have less than 250 receiving yards on the season, and all were brought in as gadget pieces for Reid’s offense. 

In the run game, the Packers defense will need to be aware of Isiah Pacheco. He’s tallied 669 rushing yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He’s also added another 30 receptions for 196 yards and a score through the air, making him the team leader in total touchdowns. 

While the Chiefs offense looks for help outside of Kelce, Rice, and Pacheco, the Packers offense is seeing the youth movement finally put everything together. Rookie second-round pick Jayden Reed leads the team with 497 yards and six total touchdowns, while second-year pro Romeo Doubs isn’t far behind with 433 yards and seven scores. Christian Watson is third on the team with 351 yards and three touchdowns while leading the team in yards per reception with 16.7. Even fifth-round rookie Dontayvion Wicks has gotten involved as a receiver early, with 20 receptions for 331 yards. His yards per reception total (16.6) almost mirrors Watson’s. 

Before he went on injured reserve, rookie second-round pick Luke Musgrave was emerging as a dynamic receiving threat, too, ranking third on the team with 33 receptions and fourth on the team with 341 receiving yards. In his absence, third-round pick Tucker Kraft caught his first career touchdown in Week 12 against the Lions. Expect to see him continue to work his way into the offensive gameplan. 

There’s a lot to like from this Packers offense that’s starting to put everything together, from receivers solidifying their roles to Love continuing to build on impressive performances. LaFleur and Reid both run creative schemes, so this could be an offensive chess match on Sunday night. 

6. As it Stands

While it seems improbable to be talking about a playoff picture that includes the Packers after the way the season started, that’s exactly what we’re going to do to wrap up this week’s Six Pack.  

As the NFC sits right now, The Eagles (10-1), 49ers (8-3), Lions (8-3), and Falcons (5-6) all lead their divisions and claim the first four playoff spots. That leaves the Cowboys (9-3), Vikings (6-6), and Seahawks (6-6) as the three Wild Card teams. 

Here’s where things get interesting. The Packers are currently the eighth seed with a 5-6 record, along with the Rams and Saints. But, because Green Bay holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against both teams, the Packers have laid claim to that eighth slot. 

Now, the Packers are largely in control of their own destiny to round out the remaining six games of the season. As a refresher, after Week 13 against the Chiefs, the Packers will finish the year against the Giants (4-8), Buccaneers (4-7), Panthers (1-10), Vikings (6-6), and Bears (4-8). Even if the Packers lose one or two of their final six games, they’ve still got a strong shot at either the sixth or seventh playoff seed, and here’s why. 

The Cowboys, Seahawks, and Vikings all have tough remaining schedules, including the Thursday Night Football contest we just saw last night between Dallas and Seattle. 

The Vikings finish the year against the Raiders (5-7), Bengals (5-6), the Packers (5-6), and then they still have to play the Lions (8-3) twice. 

The Seahawks have to play the 49ers (8-3), Eagles (10-1), Titans (4-7), Steelers (7-4), and Cardinals (2-10). 

And, for comparison’s sake, the Cowboys (even with the fifth seed feeling pretty locked in at this point) still have to play the Eagles (10-1), Bills (6-6), Dolphins (8-3), Lions (8-3), and Commanders (4-8). 

If the Packers, Vikings, and Seahawks all finish 9-8, even if the Packers lose to the Vikings in Week 17, the Vikings and Packers would secure the sixth and seventh playoff spots, respectively, and the Seahawks would just miss out as the eighth seed. 

What I’ll be drinking for the game: 

I don’t actually know yet! My wonderful husband got me the MobCraft Advent Calendar, and I’m not sure what the beer is going to be on Sunday. But I will say, having done one other beer advent calendar in the past, I am very excited for this one. Since MobCraft is also local, that makes it extra fun. Cheers! 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

7 points
 

Comments (11)

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

December 01, 2023 at 12:02 pm

If anyone had seriously put forward the Packers would be playoff contenders this late in the season at the beginning of the season, they would have been laughed off the forum. Yet here we are. A few weeks ago, we were ready to get rid of the entire coaching staff and start over. Possibly even looking at trying to draft a QB in the first round. I still believe there should be a major shakeup on the coaching staff, and that there should be some serious thought given as to why the team's ST's are still so terrible. I have to admit, though, it's a lot more fun to be optimistic than pessimistic, or even fatalistic.

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White92's picture

December 01, 2023 at 09:37 pm

While I was a big skeptic, there were plenty on here calling for playoffs and even division winning when the season began and did not get laughed off. I am happy with the way the last 2 games have gone, but not completely convinced. I'd love to be proven wrong.

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mnbadger's picture

December 01, 2023 at 12:27 pm

I had us at 7 or 8 wins at the start of the year and still don't know if I'll be high or low in win total?
I'm with Ricky, way more fun the last few weeks than the month before.
We knew it would be some sort of up/down season, I didn't imagine it would be the neck twisting thrill ride that it seems to be turning into.
With optimism in my sails Pack 26 - chefs 24!
GPG!

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Spock's picture

December 01, 2023 at 12:56 pm

Hey, Maggie, you're missing a number in there somewhere," Mahomes went 20-of-166 with one touchdown and no picks for a rating of 74.8. " Gotta think Mahomes was 20 of something for 166 yards, lol.

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MaggieLoney's picture

December 01, 2023 at 03:23 pm

Hey good catch! It's been updated :)

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Ikrispy's picture

December 01, 2023 at 04:16 pm

Andy Ride’s record against the Packers in the postseason is 1:1…?

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EricTorkelson's picture

December 01, 2023 at 04:24 pm

Great job Maggie ...
Defence ... pressure,pressure... Will Joe B use max pressure on Mahomes like he ( for the most part ) used against Goff or go back to his light front and 5 Dbacks soft zone and have Mahome sit back and tear them apart or run the ball for big gashers... The NFL is now all about pressuring the Quarterback and stacking the lines.. JB may just be just starting to figure this out ???
As it stands... the Packers have an excellent chance at a wild card playoff spot.. There best chance is jumping ahead of the Vikings who play Gb once and the Lions twice! The Vikings quarterback JDobbs is bad, it wont take long for the team to loose total confidence in him that will be there undoing.

Pampered Packers
Once again the packers dominate the Injury report

Packers 15 players listed ...
2- DNP ( most likely out )
10- LP
3-FP

KC 7 players listed
5- FP
2- LP

Bad news AJones (out) Dillon LP (Groin) With a groin Dillon if he plays will be slower than ever and if he plays he wont last..
then it will be up to P Taylor... I would go with PT right from the start.

I am not sure about the Packers and all there injury's, yes football is a violent tough sport, but it is the same for there opponents, Why does it seem like the packers Injury report doubles the size of the opponent every week?
Maybe the players in some cases are content with there guarantied money and want to sit in the hot tubs and watch the games on TV? Or is it the coaches going extra soft on the players at the closed door practices so when the games start they fall apart at the first contact? Maybe its management encouraging them to take time off to fully heal up 100 percent? Or an amateur trainer who doesnt know how to teach the proper stretching of hamstrings?

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jlc1's picture

December 02, 2023 at 02:17 pm

Joe B figuring it out? Is there an emoji for dying laughing? No, he's not figuring it out. He's still the village idiot and we'll all be saying so, again, come Monday.
But I do also think that if the Pack wins the games they're supposed to and other teams do too they'll be in the playoffs. GPG!

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PeteK's picture

December 01, 2023 at 04:44 pm

I wonder if MLF will have Love sprinting and rolling out on some plays to avoid that mad rush. Kraft should have a good game blocking like last week and releasing for some short gains.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 01, 2023 at 05:51 pm

As long as we keep winning, everything else works itself out. 5-7 is harder than 6-6 but if we play well this team is good enough to win out, and that would be 10-7. Right now, Detroit will probably be able to hang onto the division title but they know what happened last time. The Packers are the best team in the division right now with six games to go, and if they play well they'll probably make the playoffs, and if they do, great, and if they don't, then we'll need to improve for 2024. Fortunately, we have five draft picks in the Top 100 either way. Well done, Gute.

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Bitternotsour's picture

December 01, 2023 at 11:12 pm

And a bonafide QB.

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