Packers vs Chiefs: How It Breaks Down

Aaron looks at how things should play out when each team has the ball and gives his prediction for today's game.

When The Packers Have The Ball:

Chiefs interim coach Romeo Crennel indicated earlier this week that he would continue to call the defensive plays for Kansas City. Crennel was made interim coach after the Chiefs fired Todd Haley following last weeks hellacious beat-down by the New York Jets. Haley's offense had a been a disaster much of the year, somewhat due to injuries, mostly due to Haley being saddled with Tyler Palko as his quarterback.

Crennel's defensive squad has actually been playing quite well, last weeks showing notwithstanding. They play a surprising amount of man coverage and can get after the quarterback without resorting to heavy blitzing - just the recipe that is needed to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.

Mike McCarthy's game plan will have to center around making sure the Packers have Chiefs right outside linebacker Tamba Hali accounted for on every play. The Chiefs are not shy about moving him around, and once he determines he can beat an opposing tackle regularly, he is merciless in making their life miserable for the remainder of the afternoon.

But the Chiefs are far from a one man show on defense. Along with Hali, they have inside backer Derrick Johnson, who would be a star if he played on even a slightly better team that was getting more national coverage. The secondary features Brandon Flowers, who would have most likely matched up with Greg Jennings all over the field. With Jennings out with a knee injury, look for Crennel to keep Flowers on the left side and fellow cornerback Brandon Carr on the right to match up with Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Donald Driver.

The Packers will try to work tight end Jermichael Finley into one on one matchups, but the Chiefs pass rush will help when trying to keep him in check. Look at this play below from earlier this year where Tom Brady tries to find tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Notice how the Chiefs give the appearance of a big blitz - it looks like at least six, maybe even seven guys will be coming. Brady sets his back to his left anticipating both the blitz and the need for help on Hali.

Instead, Crennel only sends five, dropping the inside linebackers and sending the corner from the slot opposite of Hali. (The back actually does a good job reading across the formation to find the blitzing corner) The Chiefs ability to cover on the back end just long enough to let the five man rush get home is the kind of thing that will give the Packers problems today. The Packers, however, can count on Rodgers' mobility to keep some plays alive. You can see some receivers breaking open toward the end of the play above - something Rodgers could exploit on the move outside the pocket.

Of course, later in the same game as the video above, Gronkowski came free over the middle for a touchdown off a blown coverage by the Chiefs that pretty much blew the game open. The Packers will be challenged early by this Chiefs defense - but as was the case when they faced New England, the fact that their offense will continually put them back on the field - without having putting up any points - will eventually be too much for this talented but beleaguered group.

The Packers could possibly be without both running backs James Starks and Brandon Saine, but don't expect a lot of Ryan Grant. Instead, the Packers will split carries between Grant and fullback John Kuhn, using Kuhn in the third down back role where he excels in blitz pickup (his blown assignment last week notwithstanding)

When The Chiefs Have The Ball:

Crennel indicated earlier this week that Kyle Orton, acquired off waivers from the Broncos earlier this year, would get the start. (If Orton is unable to go, the Packers will face rookie Ricky Stanzi.)

The Chiefs have an incredible talent at wide receiver in Dwayne Bowe, but he has completely tanked since Palko took over at quarterback. The insertion of Orton might get him playing harder. Look for Dom Capers to matchup cornerback Tramon Williams with Bowe all over the field much like he did against Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving.

The Packers should be able to generate some pressure without blitzing, something they've been unable to do all year. The Chiefs offensive line is just that bad. Look for not only Clay Matthews but B.J. Raji and Erik Walden to take turns generating pressure.

Speaking of Raji, the defensive line as a whole should use this game as a springboard for the remainder of this season. Outside of Raji, the line's play has been uneven at best and downright pedestrian at worst. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac indicated this week that second year pro Mike Neal was not giving the Packers the push they had hoped for and that Jarius Wynn, who had been losing snaps to Neal, would see an increase in snaps going forward. Throw in the fact that Ryan Pickett will miss today's game after suffering his second concussion of the year against the Raiders, the time has never been better for the likes of Wynn and C.J. Wilson to give the Packers some quality snaps.

Be it Neal or Wynn, someone needs to step up on third downs from the defensive line, starting this week. If they are unable to dominate this weak Chiefs offensive line, its hard to see them doing much the rest of the way when it comes to rushing the passer.

Enough Already, Who Wins?

The Packers. Big.

Packers: 42

Chiefs: 17

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