Packers vs. Chiefs Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (13-0) and Kansas City Chiefs (5-8) face off in Week 15 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 12:00 CST, Sunday, December 18, 2011.

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO.

TV: FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive.

Series: Chiefs lead, 3-6-1 (Packers won last regular season game, 33-22, in Nov. 4, 2007 at Arrowhead Stadium).

Five things to watch

1. Romeo’s turn

After a 5-8 start that included five losses of 25 or more points, the Chiefs fired head coach Todd Haley this week and replaced him with defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Every so often, a change in the face of the man leading a locker room adds energy that would have otherwise been stagnant. Letting go of the fiery Haley and replacing him with a player’s coach in Crennel could have that effect. Keep an eye on the first 15 minutes to see if the coaching change had any early impact.

2. Repayment 

Last season, Greg Jennings embraced a larger role in the Packers offense after Jermichael Finley was lost for the season in Week 5. Now, with Jennings on the shelf for the remainder of the regular season, Finley gets his chance to do the same. The Packers will spread it around to help compensate for Jennings’ loss, but Finley figures to be the guy to take on some of the missing targets. Let’s see if Aaron Rodgers and the “Big Fella,” as he calls him, can get on a roll before the postseason.

3. You again?

One of the first things Crennel did as interim coach was to name Kyle Orton the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, dependent on his injured finger checking out. The finger is healthy enough and Orton will start on Sunday. The Packers are well-versed on playing Orton, a seven-year pro who has started five games against Green Bay as a member of the Chicago Bears and another this season with the Broncos. In that Week 4 game at Lambeau Field, Orton completed 22-of-32 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions, with one taken 30 yards for a touchdown by Charles Woodson in the first quarter. The Packers won that game 49-23. Orton will need to play a perfect game that includes no turnovers for the Chiefs to have a chance at pulling off the upset.



Packers vs. Chiefs: Two Teams Moving in Completely Opposite Directions

Green Bay Packers Defensive Lineman Mike Neal

Mike Neal

The Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs entered the playoffs last season with identical 10-6 records. Winners of the AFC West, the Chiefs earned the right to host the Baltimore Ravens. Runners-up in the NFC North, the Packers went on the road to face the Philadelphia Eagles. Since then, the teams have gone in drastically different directions.

The Packers left Philadelphia with a 21-16 victory and an opportunity to go play the Atlanta Falcons the next week. The Chiefs’ season ended abruptly as they were blown out 30-7 by the Ravens. While the Chiefs cleaned out their lockers and planned off-season vacations, the Packers continued their magical playoff run to the team’s fourth Lombardi Trophy.

Since both teams entered last season’s playoffs with 10-6 records, the Packers are 17-0 while the Chiefs are 5-9. The Packers are contending for another Super Bowl victory while the Chiefs are grasping onto their playoff hopes.

One of the main reasons for the Chiefs collapse has been injuries. Against the Packers in pre-season, the Chiefs lost their emerging young tight end Tony Moeaki as then head coach Todd Haley decided to play his starters longer than usual. This became a trend for the Chiefs as they lost their best player Jamaal Charles in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. Rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin was also injured in a locker-room scuffle. Other prominent names on the Chiefs list of players on injured reserve include quarterback Matt Cassel and Eric Berry.

While injuries have ravaged the Chiefs season, the Packers have overcome countless injuries during their run. The offensive line has been shuffled due to injuries to Chad Clifton and Josh Sitton, safety Nick Collins’ season ended with a neck injury and James Starks, Tramon Williams, Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk and now Greg Jennings have all been out of the lineup.

Another reason for the collapse of the Chiefs and the rise of the Packers is a difference in stability. To compete in the NFL, a team needs a good quarterback and a good coach. While the Packers have two of the best in the business at their professions, the Chiefs have suffered at both.



2011 NFL Season Week 15: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview: Arrowhead Massacre?

As I wrote on Twitter earlier this week, how do you preview a slaughter?

That’s the dilemma I faced when trying to preview this Sunday’s matchup between the 13-0 Green Bay Packers and the 5-8 Kansas City Chiefs.   The same Chiefs team who has scored 25 points combined in four games and the team who fired head coach Todd Haley this week, one year after winning the AFC West. His replacement for the remainder of 2011? Romeo Crennel, who was a dismal failure in his time as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

In the other corner, you have the defending world champion Packers whose offense is a runaway freight train demolishing all teams on the road to another Super Bowl title.

Dysfunction vs. perfect harmony.  I think you know where this is going.

Key Chiefs Players

QB Kyle Orton The former Broncos quarterback gets his first start since signing with the Chiefs following his release from Denver in the wake of Tebowmania.  Orton did make a brief (one play) appearance for Kansas City earlier this season and promptly was sidelined until this week by a finger injury.

Orton has had very little time with this offense due to his injury.  He has not had the chance to develop chemistry with the Chiefs wide receivers and with a ball hawking Packers secondary coming to town, his learning curve just got that much steeper.

WR Dwayne Bowe Even though his TD total is way down from 2010 (15 vs. just four this season), Bowe is on pace for his second consecutive 1,000 yard season.  When Jamal Charles went down for the season early in the 2011 campaign, it was expected that Bowe and Steve Breaston both would have decent seasons.

Thanks to the loss of starting quarterback Matt Cassel for the season as well, Bowe’s big season hasn’t exactly panned out.  He has been productive between the two end zones, but not IN the end zones themselves.  It’s basically been a problem for the entire Chiefs offense to be fair.

With Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams coming to town, Bowe will have his hands full and if the Chiefs hope to have any chance of keeping pace with the Packers Bowe will have to find ways to get open.



Packers vs Chiefs: Things to Watch In Green Bay’s Preseason Finale

The Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs will close out their preseason schedules Thursday, with the Chiefs traveling to Lambeau Field in a rematch of each team’s 2010 preseason finale. The Chiefs won that game at Arrowhead Stadium, 17-14.

As was the case when these two met last August, the Chiefs come in to the game 0-3 in preseason play. The Packers were also 2-1 heading into their finale in 2010.

These two teams play in Week 15 of the regular season in Kansas City.

Here are some things to watch between the Packers and Chiefs Thursday:

Secondary Blues

Backups in the Packers secondary haven’t played well in three preseason games. Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush have been picked on at times, culminating with the touchdown pass Bush gave up against Curtis Painter in Indianapolis. Both Bush and Lee have struggled finding the football in man coverage, and Lee gets lost sometimes in zone.

The two got a chance to face a starting NFL quarterback in Colt McCoy in Week 1 of the preseason, and he roasted the pair to the tune of 135 yards, one touchdown and just one incompletion in 10 attempts. In the finale, they should get another chance with Matt Cassel. It’s important these two, and especially Lee, start making strides. Another tough outing could spell the end to Lee’s career with the Packers.

Ones vs. Twos

Packers coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t announced anything yet, but it’s widely assumed most of the Packers starters will get the night off Thursday as the team prepares to face the Saints just a week after their preseason finale. McCarthy sat the starters last year at Arrowhead and the Packers weren’t playing the league’s first game of the season.

That’s not the case in Kansas City, where coach Todd Haley said he’ll get most of his starters a good chunk of playing time. How much exactly wasn’t announced by Haley either. Regardless, Haley’s decision should get some of the Packers backup players valuable experience against a starting team that won the AFC West last season. You really can’t beat that from an evaluation standpoint. It’ll help both McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson get a gauge on where some of the second-stringers are and which should make the Packers final 53-man roster.

In the Trenches