Packers vs. Chiefs: 5 Big Questions for Sunday's Game
The 13-0 Green Bay Packers will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, and while the Packers are clear favorites to win, the Chiefs are a desperate team playing in a very loud home stadium, placing an upset in the realm of possibility.
With a Packers win, they would move to 14-0 and would clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, meaning that this could be the last road game for Green Bay before the Super Bowl, if they're still in it by then.
The Packers are playing for home-field advantage, and the Chiefs are playing for a little respect and a big upset.
Here are five big questions that could determine the outcome of this game.
5. Will Home-Field Advantage Hurt the Packers?
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Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, and consequently, one of the biggest home-field advantages in the league.
Plenty of upsets have taken place in Kansas City, and the Packers could find themselves at a disadvantage, especially on offense, if they're not able to communicate effectively.
The biggest advantage the Chiefs have going for them is the home-field advantage, and if they can get their fans excited early on in the game, it could make things difficult for the visiting team to come away with a win.
In order to get home-field advantage, the Packers will fittingly have to win in one of the best home fields in football. Given their 7-0 record on the road so far this year, which includes places like Chicago, Atlanta and New York, the Packers certainly have the ability to pull off an undefeated record on the road.
4. Will the Packers Have the Opportunity To Rest Starters?
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Against Oakland last week, the Packers got off to a quick 31-0 start and were able to rest starters for much of the second half. If the Packers get off to another hot start this week, they may be able to do the same.
The only difference is that this week, the Packers will have to start fast on the road against a loud home crowd, something that could be more difficult then getting off to a big lead in Lambeau Field.
However, if they do get off to a quick start, resting starters in the second half would be a wise choice, especially considering last week, when star receiver Greg Jennings was taken out with a knee injury, sidelining him for likely the rest of the regular season.
3. Will the Packers Defense Take Advantage of Injuries in Kansas City?
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The Chiefs offense has been ravaged by injuries, losing star running back Jamaal Charles in Week 2, and then losing starting quarterback Matt Cassel several weeks ago.
Now, Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones have taken over the duties in the running game, and the starting quarterback on Sunday will either be the disgraced Denver quarterback Kyle Orton or rookie Ricky Stanzi, following Tyler Palko's failure at the position.
The Packers defense faced a similarly injury-ravaged offense in Oakland last week, who lost their best offensive weapon in Darren McFadden and also were starting newly acquired quarterback Carson Palmer in place of the injured Jason Campbell.
The result of this was significant; the Packers romped the Raiders 46-16.
The Packers defense has proven that it can give up plays to strong offenses with elite quarterbacks and a good running game, but it has consistently shut down poor offenses led by the likes of Christian Ponder, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, and perhaps this week, Kyle Orton once again.
2. Will Tamba Hali and the Chiefs Defensive Line Get to Aaron Rodgers?
The Chiefs defense is certainly their strongest side of the ball, and they have been able to get to the quarterback, starting with linebacker Tamba Hali—one of their most talented players.
Many have said that the quarterback is the most important position on the field. Perhaps, the recipe for beating the Packers is putting their star quarterback on the ground, as he is the one who can make the big plays and throw to his arsenal of receivers.
If Hali and the Chiefs defense can put some pressure on Rodgers, they could certainly keep this game close. And considering the fact that the Packers offensive line has also been dealing with injuries, it's certainly a possibility.
1. Can the Packers Offense Pick Up the Pieces After the Loss of Greg Jennings?
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Perhaps, the most concerning injury so far this year was the one to Greg Jennings last week against Oakland. The Packers offense has been rolling all year, but losing their star receiver for three weeks could certainly change things.
Jennings is perhaps the most talented offensive player on the Packers squad outside of Aaron Rodgers, and losing him is certainly a blow to the Packers.
However, the Packers have the fortune of a tremendous wide receiving corps consisting of Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, not to mention their incredibly talented tight end in Jermichael Finley.
The Packers have the depth to move on from their injuries. They proved it last year when Jermichael Finley went down, and Jennings became the focal point of the offense.
Perhaps, Finley and Jennings will reverse roles this year.