Monday, September 28, 2015

Packers vs. Chiefs in Week 3 Replay of First AFL-NFL Championship

Well, that's the hook, anyway. The two teams from the very first Super Bowl -- then known as the AFL-NFL Championship -- meet tonight at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI: the Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Well, OK, not those exact teams...that game would really look like a rolling MASH unit. Still, on hand tonight will be quite a few of the Packers who actually played in that first championship game 50 years ago. Imagine that. Fifty years ago.

While that is cool enough in itself, it's history...good history: the Packers won. But our concern is more immediate. What's going to happen with this Monday Night Football extravaganza?
Get ready for a show at Lambeau Field tonight.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Here's what we know about the Packers
We know Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is healthy. That's a good thing. A very good thing. Starting RB Eddie Lacy is "probable" tonight, which is an upgrade from his "questionable" status of a few days ago. That means probably limited action. But James Starks can certainly fill the void, as we saw again last week against the Seahawks. In terms of receivers, Davante Adams is also listed as probable. So, again, perhaps limited action. But that means there are opportunities for other receivers. Plus, the Packers have had a week to game-plan for a reduced role for Adams. The receiving corps didn't seem to miss a beat last week while Adams was out. And let's not forget TE Richard Rodgers, who was not only working at his usual spot but also on occasion out of the backfield. There's plenty for the Chiefs to worry about.

We know we are in good shape with our skill players (note that I can say "our" because I am a Packers shareholder...a-hem), but we may have cause for concern at the tackle positions, particularly on the right side where Bryan Bulaga is still out and Don Barclay will have to take on arguably one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Justin Houston. On the other side, we saw LT David Bakhtiari get speed-rushed a few times last weekend; he's got to hold up better this week. The Chiefs have a good front seven and can cause problems if the Packers O-line doesn't perform well.

On defense, we know that the Pack will be without S Morgan Burnett tonight. He helped a great deal in terms of secondary toughness last week against Seattle, as well as being the defensive backfield "quarterback." Seems as if the secondary is just not as good when Burnett is out of the lineup. Against a very good opposing quarterback such as Alex Smith, the Pack's secondary has to play more like they did last week than in the opener against Chicago.

The Packers are a work in progress and a bit banged up in the third week of the season, but are 2-0 going into a tough, but winnable game at home against a very good opponent, who themselves may be Super Bowl-worthy when it's all said and done.

What we know about the Chiefs
Since this is an inter-conference game, many Packers fans probably don't follow what happens in KC very closely. The Chiefs are 1-1 and have given up as many points as they've scored: 51. We also know the coach used to be a Packers assistant under Mike Holmgren once upon a time. He had a good stint with the Eagles, but didn't get them to the promised land. In Kansas City, he has a a team with a very good defense, particularly up front, a very good quarterback (Smith) and very good running back in Jamaal Charles when he isn't fumbling away the game as he did last week against Denver. This is the third week in a row that the Packers defense will have faced a top-notch running back. Charles is a versatile back, the kind that has often given the Packers defense troubles. Still, the "D" has done pretty well containing those backs the first two weeks; they'll need to do so again tonight.

Our prediction
The Packers are 6-1/2 point favorites. Many think it will be closer than that, and some even think this is a game the Pack could lose given their emotional expenditure in the win against the Seahawks. But the Packers are establishing dominance at home. Aaron Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at Lambeau since...2012? Amazing.

The Packers get this win. We're calling it 31-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!