Editor’s note: We welcome in contributor Jason B. Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company — our sister site covering the Green Bay Packers — for Five Questions with the Enemy as we head into the Week 8 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Packers on Sunday Night Football.
1) The Green Bay Packers are 6-1, their one loss coming to the Philadelphia Eagles back in Week 4. What did Philadelphia do that led to the loss?
The Packers had trouble stopping the running attack of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders in that game. The two combined for nearly 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns, something that no team had done to Green Bay up to that point. Combined with the Packers offense faltering the red zone on their final drive, it produced their first loss of the season.
2) WR Davante Adams has been out since that loss, yet the Packers have won every game since. What has the offense to make up for all that Adams does?
Though other players have raised their level of play in Davante Adams’ absence, Jones has become the focal point of both the ground and passing attacks. Against the Cowboys, the Packers funneled much of their offense through Aaron Jones. Jones made headlines for the four touchdowns he scored on the ground, but he saw plenty of work as a receiver (both lined up wide and on routes out of the backfield). That trend continued into the following week when Jones became the first read on Green Bay’s first shot at a touchdown:
Though Jones dropped that pass, the Packers dialed up a similar sail concept a week ago against the Raiders. Despite a more difficult ball, Jones managed to hold on for the game’s first score:
With Adams at best a 50/50 proposition to play this weekend, expect the Packers to lean heavily on Jones again in Kansas City.
3) Why have LBs Preston and Za’Darius Smith been so successful at getting to the quarterback this season?
Both players had strong track records of generating pressure before arriving in Green Bay even if their sack totals didn’t always reflect it. Now, in a defense that allows them to work off one another, they have ample opportunity to do damage. In pass-rushing situations, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will often move Za’Darius Smith inside and place Preston Smith to his side. This allows the Smiths to overload opposing offensive lines with stunts or just conventional rushes.
4) When is the last time you’ve noticed Aaron Rodgers play as well as he did last game against the Raiders (429 yards, 5 touchdowns)?
Though Aaron Rodgers has occasionally played better than last Sunday’s six-touchdown performance, the game marked the first time he had produced at that level in new head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. Before that development, Rodgers had produced only in spurts for roughly a year and a half. His last complete game (albeit not as overall dominant) probably happened before his collarbone injury. In Week 5 of the 2017 season, Rodgers put up 221 yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys and delivered a game-winning back-shoulder throw to Adams in the game’s waning moments.
5) Who is one offensive and one defensive under-the-radar player more people should be talking about? Why?
On offense, rookie left guard Elgton Jenkins has played as well as any interior linemen in Green Bay. His power opens up holes in the run game and he has yet to allow a sack in five starts. Defensively, fellow rookie Darnell Savage has given the secondary a speedy, play-making threat that it hasn’t had since safety Nick Collins last played in 2011. He has missed the Packers’ last game, but it appears he will suit up this week in Kansas City.