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How the Chiefs can use their blitz packages to beat the Packers

The Kansas City Chiefs have been one of the best blitzing teams in the NFL this season, and they can use it to exploit the Packers passing game.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs head north to take on the Green Bay Packers this weekend on "Sunday Night Football." The Chiefs' defense has surged this season, becoming one of the best units in the NFL. After a slow start, the Packers' offense has clicked in the last couple of weeks as they have put together a string of solid performances.

An area where the Chiefs could have a significant advantage over the Packers is with their blitz packages. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been one of the best in the league at dialing up pressure throughout his career and seems to know the right times to unleash his exotic looks.

Conversely, the Packers have struggled against the blitz this season. Packers quarterback Jodan Love is one of the poorest-rated passers against the blitz in the league, and it has created issues through their offense.

The matchup will pit one of the Chiefs' biggest strengths against the Packers' most significant weaknesses.

A look at the numbers

The Chiefs' defense has been outstanding when blitzing this season. There is a misconception that most of the success has been due to Steve Spagnuolo calling blitzes every play and in any given situation.

While Spagnuolo is certainly not afraid to blitz in any given situation, the Chiefs have blitzed less than one would assume.

While the Chiefs have been middle of the pack in total blitzes on dropback passes, they have been among the league's most effective when they do blitz. They have recorded the fourth-most sacks with 13, the 15th-most pressures, the second-most batted passes with six, and have allowed the second-lowest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.

Jordan Love has shown improvement this season, but his game still has holes, and when blitzed, he has been one of the worst in the league.

Love is among the league's highest-blitzed quarterbacks on dropback passes — tied for fourth with 128 dropbacks — and he has the sixth-lowest completion percentage at 58%.

The Chiefs have put on film why they are one of the best teams in the league when blitzing the quarterback, and so has Love when showing his issues with being blitzed.

Chiefs blitzing domination

The Chiefs have attacked opponents in key situations with well-timed blitzes and have utilized the talents of their players to create havoc. They have used the threat of All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, the athleticism of Drue Tranquill and the fierce finishing ability of their defensive backs to dominate the opposition on crucial downs.

The Chiefs have multiple players walked up on the ball pre-snap, including Tranquill and Willie Gay, while Chris Jones is lined up on the left tackle.

Before the snap, the Vikings center appears to make a slide-right protection call, which would bring the left guard to the right and leave the running back on Tranquill.

The Vikings do slide right, and the back attempts to pick up Tranquill but is still knocked back into the pocket. The left tackle is man-on-man against Jones and keys in on him, which is what Spagnuolo wants.

While the offensive line and Kirk Cousins are focused on the exotic front and the dominant Jones, Trent McDuffie sneaks in from the secondary at the last second and explodes into the pocket.

Cousins was going to attempt to give his wide receiver a chance at a 50-50 ball, but McDuffie lights him up at the last second, and the ball ends up being uncatchable.

Jones has been the key to the Chiefs defense this season, and Spagnuolo has used his presence to predicate how he wants to call his blitzes. Having players like McDuffie, Tranquill, and L'Jarius Sneed has been a plus, as he capitalized on their athleticism and aggression to attack.

Love's issues against the blitz

Love has not faired well against blitzes this season, and teams have used well-timed strikes to create incompletions. Although he has not been sacked many times on blitzing plays— 15 sacks taken on blitzes— his completion percentage has been poor.

The Detroit Lions run one of the most generic blitzes in football, a four-man rush with a middle linebacker insert. While the left side of the Lions' offensive line is concerned with stopping rising star Aiden Hutchinson, the running back whiffs on the middle linebacker, and Love has a man in his face almost instantly.

The Packers were also utilizing both tight ends in protection to help chip the Lions' pass rush, but even with the increased blocking help, the blitz still got home and forced Love to scramble and throw an incompletion.

This was one of the most simplistic blitzes that a team can call, and it still created plenty of problems for Green Bay.

While Love is the player who will take the blame and see his statistics decrease due to these plays this is not entirely on him. His protection has been lackluster at times this year. He has not taken that many sacks—22 on the year—the pressures and blitz looks have certainly affected his game and caused him to deliver multiple off-time passes.

The bottom line

The Packers are a rising team with the young offensive pieces to go on a late run and possibly make the postseason. They will be fighting down the line to play football in late January, but they will run into a buzzsaw this week against the Chiefs.

The Chiefs' defense can make Love's life hard, and the trip to the Frozen Tundra will give them a chance to further showcase their abilities.

In the past, Spagnuolo has used his blitz packages as somewhat of a last resort. This year, he has used them to put the finishing touches on games while his unit has blown down the doors and exceeded expectations.

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