Fans of football should question what they did to upset the football gods.
One of the two star quarterbacks will not play for the second-consecutive matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. On Wednesday morning, it was reported that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would miss the Week 9 game after testing positive for COVID.
In Week 8 of 2019, the Packers and Rodgers visited Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs following Patrick Mahomes’ injury that forced him to be sidelined a few weeks.
Two historic franchises that rarely get the chance to play each other got a chance to face off twice in three seasons — but neither game will feature both all-time signal-callers. Like many fans, Mahomes was looking forward to the matchup against the quarterback with whom he shares a State Farm sponsorship.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Mahomes told reporters during his Wednesday press conference. “I’ve watched his game for a long time and felt like I played a similar style, and you always want to compete against the best. Hopefully, he’s healthy, and it isn’t too bad; I’m sure he’ll come back stronger than he was before.”
On the football field, Rodgers’ status projects as a huge break for a Chiefs team that plays the toughest remaining schedule in the league. At 4-4, they need every win they can get — and the absence of Rodgers dramatically increases their chances of getting one on Sunday.
It’s no guarantee, though. Second-string quarterback Jordan Love has been confirmed as the starter; he was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft because of his unique talent but has yet to make a start in his two seasons so far.
The quarterback he’ll be across the field from admired Love as an NFL draft prospect.
“He’s super talented.” Mahomes pointed out about Love. “I got to watch some games he played in college where he was slinging it around the field and making a lot of plays happen. He also played really well in the preseason. I’m sure he’ll be ready; they have a great offense.”
Love is stepping into a unit with one of the best wide receivers and running backs in football — and that’s before mentioning the offensive line that is widely considered one of the league’s best. The support is good enough to make up for the drop-off from Rodgers to Love.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu is aware of the talent he’ll be looking to slow down.
“Davante Adams is one of those receivers where it doesn’t matter who he has throwing the ball to him, he’s a tough cover,” Mathieu told reporters on Thursday. “The more I watch Aaron Jones, the more I like the way he runs the football; he reminds me a lot of Dalvin Cook. He has a lot of straight-line speed and power for his size; he can run through arm tackles... even the backup running back A.J. Dillon is a tough dude as well.”
With that support for Love, the foundation for the offense has been set — and that’s why coach Reid doesn’t believe it will be changed for the young quarterback.
“You know that they aren’t going to completely change the whole offense, that’s not going to happen,” Reid assured. “They’re still going to run the offense; they ran it with him in the preseason, and it looked like he did a nice job with it. You prepare for the offense, then take the unique qualities each has and work on that.”
The Chiefs are far from a shoo-in victor on Sunday — not only because of their performance in recent weeks but also, a team isn’t automatically doomed when a backup quarterback has to start; the NFL has plenty of examples.
“You just watched this last weekend where two quarterbacks came in that haven’t had an opportunity to play much if at all and won games,” Reid noted. “Our guys are aware of that; you get yourself ready to play. There are small margins in this league; it’s a true team sport.”
There are no smaller margins than the ones the Chiefs face for the remainder of the season if they want to make the postseason. Every game will feel like it must be won, but this game especially.
If the Chiefs can’t take advantage of a team losing their starting quarterback in the middle of the week, it’s impossible to imagine them winning enough of the remainder of their games to make the playoffs.