It would be easy to understand a let down on Monday night, wouldn’t it? It was so clear that the Packers wanted to win on Sunday and prove that they were the best team in the conference, and possibly the league (they are). Whether it was the raucous crowd, Aaron Rodgers swipe at Russell Wilson after the game or the fight in the 4th quarter it was clear that this one was different. It was different and the Packers won.
There are a number of reasons that I don’t think the Packers are going to suffer a let down. First of all this team’s sights are not set on what happened on September 20th, they are set on what happens at Super Bowl 50. Last year’s collapse in the NFC Championship game started the Packers down a path of unfinished business. The Packers own the tiebreaker over the Seahawks and Dallas just lost their two most important players. Green Bay is now the clear class of the conference.
The game is also at home on Monday Night Football. The Packers don’t lose at home. Before Rodgers took his not-so-veiled shot at Wilson, he spoke to the attitude around home games in Green Bay. The Packers expect to win, and they do. Since winning the Super Bowl, Green Bay is 26-1 at home in games that Rodgers both starts and finishes. If you’re not predicting a Rodgers injury there’s more than a 96% chance you’re going to see a Packers victory.
Why the Packers Will Win: Kansas City isn’t that good. Yes, Justin Houston is a hell of a pass rusher, but that isn’t enough. In fact Kansas City has a pretty useful defense. The problem is the one place that they are weak (corner) is the one place you can’t be weak against Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers and the Packers offense have shown the ability to savage weak corners in the past. They did it to William Gay in Super Bowl XLV. They did it to Logan Ryan in their win over New England a season ago. They can do it to Philip Gaines and Jamell Fleming.
It’s a good matchup for the defense as well. The Chiefs play on a short field. Alex Smith either doesn’t have the arm strength or desire to stretch the field with his arm. If the Packers are able to get a lead, the Chiefs are not a team that is designed for a furious comeback. If the Packers can shore up their edge run defense, BJ Raji and Mike Daniels are playing well enough up the middle to make the difference. You can’t run the ball down 17.
Why the Chiefs Will Win: they do technically have the formula to give Green Bay fits. Travis Kelce is working his way towards becoming an elite tight end, which is a position that the Packers struggle defending. They also have one of the best 5 or 6 running backs in all of football, Jamaal Charles. If you think the weakness of the Packers is run defense and defending the tight end, this is a group that has the personnel to make that an issue.
Defensively they do have a chance of getting pressure with four. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are the type of guys that don’t require much of a blitz behind them to get a rush. Rushing with 4 and covering with 7 has always been the way to slow down Rodgers. (Possibly) no Eddie Lacy means that the Chiefs won’t have to release an 8th defender in to the box. If Bakhtiari and Barclay really play poorly Hali and Houston could be very disruptive.
Bottom Line: There were 4 wins a season ago that were by 3 scores or more. The game against the Falcons was also a blowout, it just doesn’t look like it in the final score. Green Bay was up 31-7 at halftime. To me, this has the feeling of one of those games. I don’t foresee one of the old testament beat-downs like were given to the Bears or Eagles, but the Packers are going to put on a show for the national audience. Rodgers and the offense will start fast, Smith won’t be able to keep up, and the Packers win big. Packers 41, Chiefs 20.