Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Packers-Chief taking shape differently than expected

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Packers-Chiefs game Sunday was supposed to be a showdown between two teams with Super Bowl aspirations, each led by center-under league MVPs and with a rabid fanbase hoping for nothing less than another deep postseason run used to do.

Well, so much for expectations.

To start, the Packers will visit Arrowhead Stadium without the current MVP after Aaron Rodgers tested positive. This week for COVID-19. Instead of watching the three-time All-Pro face a downtrodden Chiefs defense, he would turn to second-year pro Jordan Love early in his career, with seven regular-season passes to his name.

At least the Packers (7-1)’s record is up to expectations.

On the other hand, the Chiefs (4-4) and 2018 MVP have looked nothing like a championship contender. Patrick Mahomes leads the league in interceptions and turnovers, and Kansas City needed a comeback in the fourth quarter on Monday night to beat the Lowly Giants and even their record. Eight games in the season.

In other words, the brightness that comes with Sunday’s showdown has diminished significantly.

“No one will feel sorry for us,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “They are not going to postpone or cancel the game. We have a game to play and this is the next man up mentality and that’s how we worked for everyone.”

Indeed, the Packers managed to offset the losses of wide receivers Davante Adams and Alan Lazard for COVID protocol – to say nothing of a slew of injuries on defense – from the first loss of the season last week to the Cardinals. To deal with.

This gave him a comfortable 3 1/2-game cushion on the Vikings in NFC Central.

“Certainly for some young leaders, myself included, the time has come to step up. And we have a great leader to learn from,” the Packers said, trailing Aaron Jones, who may be Love’s best friend on Sunday. “So now, take that and put it to use.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs still believe they are Super Bowl contenders after adding pass rusher Melvin Ingram. Trade before the deadline to help your dying defense. But they are still half a game behind the Chargers, to whom they have already lost once, and 1 1/2 games behind the Raiders in a wide-open AFC West.

“We’re still pushing the ball and doing a lot of good things,” Mahomes said, “but whenever you turn the ball or take a penalty and push back, that kind of ruins the drive.” It comes down to execution in this league and if you don’t execute, if the teams are going to drive you across the field, you have to show that you can do that. “

The Chiefs have not been able to do this many times this season. He’s a minus-11 in turnover difference after coughing up the ball twice more against the Giants, and he scored 12 penalties for 103 yards in his game on Monday night.

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“It’s nothing crazy, man. We just have to do our job,” said chief linebacker Willie Gay Jr. “We can’t drop the crazy deep balls. We can’t jump offside. This is just basic football 101. You can’t hurt yourself and we can’t let them go to the top of the defense. Just do your job right and you’ll be fine.”

Believe in love

The Packers kept faith in Love, the 2020 first-round pick from Utah State, even though he didn’t play as a rookie at all and only ended up in a season-opening blowout loss to New Orleans. Some of Love’s rapid progress came when Rodgers skipped the voluntary workouts and a mandatory minicamp, so he got most of the reps.

“He’s got his feet under him. Just more experience,” said Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clarke. “I’m not on the offensive side of the ball, but just by looking at him, you can see he’s more comfortable. “

business problem

The two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs have an NFL-leading 19 turnovers through eight games, while the Packers clinched this week with Indianapolis at plus-8 for the second-best turnover margin.

“Whether we’re getting interceptions, putting pressure on the quarterback, guys throwing the ball — we can punch the ball. We’re seeing a lot of things on film,” Clarke said. “It’s definitely something we’re going to emphasize throughout the week.”

More on COVID-19

Adams and Lazard plan to play on Sunday, while Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who also tested positive last week and missed the game in Arizona, is also expected to travel. Vaccine players who test positive are allowed to return after two negative tests at intervals of at least 24 hours; Unaffiliated players who test positive will have to isolate for 10 days.

fan angsta

His performance at last week’s game had so many fans upset by his performance, with chief safety Tyron Matthews labeling him “toxic” in a deleted tweet. Matthews quickly apologized for this, saying that he was only disappointed with the way the season was going, and was greeted normally during the pregame introduction.

live and learn

Chiefs have been waiting weeks for Josh Gordon to pick up his strong offense to make an impact after signing the wide receiver early in the season. He hopes Ingram can make a more immediate impact – perhaps even this Sunday – given how easy it is for defensive players to get up to speed.

“We’ll see how it goes. We’re not going to put him in a bad position,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He just got here and got cracked (Wednesday), so we’ll see how he feels And how comfortable he is.”

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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