This is by no means a throw away game. The last remaining preseason contest will go a long way to answer crucial questions before the to tams take the field on opening day.
The Kansas City Chiefs hope to build on a promising year where head coach Todd Haley took a 4-12 team and commanded 10 wins and a postseason berth.
For the Green Bay Packers, Thursday will be all about getting quality reps without hurting the star core that delivered a Super Bowl last year.
The final tune-up of 2011 is Thursday. So let's break down all the finer details of the two squads.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
When: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Listen: KCFX-FM 101.1 Kansas City; WTMJ Green Bay; Sirius (Green Bay) 138
Chiefs' Key Addition
The Chiefs didn't make to big a splash in the offseason. They are using fiscal temperament to build on the promise of last year.
They did get another new toy for Matt Cassel to target along the line. Steve Breaston makes a receiving corps lead by Dwayne Bowe, even deeper. Breaston has looked sharp so far in the preseason and should make the Chiefs a vertical threat in 2011.
Packers' Key Addition
The Packers were their usual quiet self in free agency. This is a team that builds from within. That is why I have nothing but confidence that rookie offensive lineman will be a monster in the future.
TJ Lang has the role solidified. But once Sherrod skirts the growing pains, he will be the answer to Aaron Rodgers' safety.
Chiefs' Biggest Loss
Kansas City was so enamored with their crew last year that they brought them all back. The lone missing link is linebacker Mike Vrabel.
The loss will test the depth of Chiefs' coverage. Vrabel could always be counted on making the key stop in the middle. We wish Vrabel well as an Ohio State assistant coach.
Packers' Biggest Loss
The Packers may miss running back Brandon Jackson. The workhorse will now be taking snaps for the Cleveland Browns.
There will be no replacing the leadership provided by Cullen Jenkins. The Packers will also miss the seven sacks in 11 games he had during the Super Bowl run.
What They're Saying
The Washington Post highlights a confident Derrick Johnson. The middle linebacker is ready to hit his prime. He is refreshed for a follow up to the best year of his career.
"Now that I look around, I’m one of the older guys on the team. I kind of figure I’m in the prime of my career right now, mentally and physically. Everything is clicking on all cylinders."
Tom Silverstein of The Boston Herald paints a pretty picture of the Green Bay Packers. The once injury-riddled football club is enjoying a rare time of health and productivity.
"Fast-forward to 2011 and the Packers couldn’t be sitting much prettier 10 days before their season opener against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. Only five starters have missed a practice this summer and only one of those missed more than three consecutive days."
Chiefs Player To Watch
Matt Cassel will no doubt take a nice long breather on Thursday. He may step in for a drive to stay crisp, but it is all about staying healthy in Week 4.
That means Ricky Stanzi will continue to fight for the understudy role. He has looked sharp for such a young gunslinger so far. I am interested to see how he fares against a deep defense such as the Packers.
Packers Player To Watch
What's good for the Chiefs is good for the Packers. It may not be a catchy saying, but it works here. Aaron Rodgers will sit out for a sore ankle that provides a perfect excuse for him to stay clear of injury.
Matt Flynn will get the spotlight, and he will not disappoint. The Packers are well taken care of as Flynn torched the Cardinals for 141 yards on 5-for-6 passing in week two of the preseason.
Matchup To Watch
A good amount of second stringers and on-the-cusp guys will be playing Thursday. The Packers defense is deadly deep though.
That makes me giddy to see what the possible Chiefs' QB of the future looks like against a shutdown defense.
Ricky Stanzi has shown promise. And now, he will get a chance to go against guys that will be fighting for their NFL lives.
Chiefs' Key Position Battle
The Chiefs are pretty well set at major positions. I am very interested in the emergence of Justin Houston at the linebacker position.
He came to camp late, but has been a wonder ever since. He will be lights out on Thursday, vying for playing time as the Chiefs solidify the rotations.
Packers' Key Position Battle
Green Bay have settled most of the field as well. I am increasingly interested in their no-huddle offense, and how that affects the younger guys on the line.
Derek Sherrod has the talent to make it in the NFL but has looked lost at times. It will be interesting to see how he continues to grow on a week-to-week basis. With Lang winning the role on the line. This will be his last chance to show he deserves a nod at some point this season.
Thursday is all about working out the kinks. The Packers will be settling their defensive measures. The key is to once again employ the no-huddle so all the young guys can get comfortable with the manic tempo.
Kansas City will be looking deep on the cut list. The Chiefs are a playoff team but need depth if they are to once again skirt a San Diego Chargers surge.
Thursday is a dry run for the regular season. The only real worry is for injury. So don't blink or you may miss the stars that do get the privilege of getting a Week 4 snap or two.
Chiefs 17, Packers 24
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