To prepare for the Monday Night Football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers, I spoke with Jason over at SB Nation's Packers blog, Acme Packing Company. We talked about the Jordy Nelson-less Packers offense, stopping Jamaal Charles and Lambeau Field.
Read my responses to Acme Packing Company's questions here. Our Q&A is below.
1. The Packers lost Jordy Nelson. Who are the rest of the receivers and what can they do without Nelson?
APC: Some of the names should be familiar to Chiefs fans. Randall Cobb, the team's new lead receiver with Jordy Nelson sidelined, comes off his first Pro Bowl season. He spends nearly all of his time in the slot, but the Packers do use him as a vertical threat. James Jones returned after a one-year absence after the Giants released him on the final round of cuts this preseason. The season away hasn't seemed to affect him, as he leads the team with three touchdown receptions.
As for the rest of the group, second-year man Davante Adams has developed into a dangerous weapon along the boundaries. However, an ankle injury may keep him from suiting up for Monday's game. Should that happen, expect a heavy dose of rookie wideout Ty Montgomery. He received his first extended playing time last week against the Seahawks, amassing four catches for 37 yards.
As for how the offense changes without Nelson, the Packers don't have quite the same explosive-play potential. Some of their receivers can take the top off at times, but nobody left matches Nelson's unique ability to pull safeties to his side of the field and still find a way to get open deep.
2. The Chiefs need to get their running game going in Green Bay. How is the Packers run defense against elite backs like Jamaal Charles?
APC: That's a difficult question to answer. In the season opener, the Packers yielded 141 rushing yards to Bears running back Matt Forte. A week later, Green Bay's defense held Marshawn Lynch to just 41 yards. The small sample size makes it nearly impossible to judge the run defense.However, versatile tailbacks like Jamaal Charles have generally enjoyed plenty of success against the Packers in recent years. Even if the defense keeps him in check on the ground, Green Bay struggles against pass catchers out of the backfield, an area where Charles shines.
3. What is the Packers rushing attack like with or without Eddie Lacy?
APC: It becomes a smaller part of the offense. If Eddie Lacy cannot go, the Packers will still attempt to establish the run early with James Starks using a similar approach. However, the offense may not stick with the run should Kansas City bottle up Starks.As of now, most signs point to Lacy sitting on Monday. Mike McCarthy said Thursday was a critical day for the running back, who did not attend the portion of practice available to the media. That doesn't mean Lacy ultimately can't suit up for the game, but the team probably reduces his workload significantly in that scenario.
4. What is the confidence level heading into a home game? Seems like the Packers never lose in Green Bay.
APC: The Packers haven't lost at Lambeau Field since the 2013 season, and they have played plenty of tough opponents. Besides last week's matchup with the defending NFC champions, Green Bay has hosted the Patriots, Eagles and Lions during that span. The team hasn't always performed well at home, but they tend to come away with the victory. At the same time, Chiefs fans have some reason for optimism. Though the Packers won't admit it, last week's tilt with Seattle was clearly an emotional affair given what has transpired between the two teams since the "Fail Mary" in 2012. Sometimes after games like that, the focus can waver for a week or so. I can't point to any obvious example of this happening to Green Bay, but I wouldn't completely rule it out either.
5. What is your score prediction for the game? Why?
APC: I'm terrible at score predictions so I won't even try. That said, while I believe Green Bay wins on Monday, I think the Chiefs cover. Though the public has yet to recognize it, their defense has become one of the best in the league. I think Kansas City can give the Packers the biggest challenge they have received thus far in 2015.