by Mark Metzler
The anticipated showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes didn’t happen, and the game that would have edged to the Kansas City Chiefs had Mahomes been available went to the Packers behind Rodgers and Aaron Jones, 31-24.
It was another good game for the Packers, featuring two of the best Rodgers’ throws of all time, some excellent play-calling and some critical adjustments by the coaching staff.
It looked as if the Packers were going to blow the Chiefs straight out of Arrowhead Stadium, getting up early 14-0, but Chiefs’ Head Coach Andy Reid came up big with an inspired game plan, and while veteran backup quarterback Matt Moore didn’t make anyone forget the injured Mahomes, he did make you remember Len Dawson. Moore executed the game plan and got the ball into the hands of the Chiefs’ many weapons.
Not only did the Chiefs dial it up offensively, they did it defensively as well with a number of blitzes, making Rodgers uncomfortable, especially in the second quarter. The big question going into the second half: would the Packers adjust? The answer told us a lot about the Packers’ coaching on the fly. The coaching staff did well, adjusting by Rodgers getting the ball out of his hand quicker.
With the score 17-14 Chiefs at the half and the Chiefs getting the second-half kickoff, the key play was a Za’Darius Smith sack that forced the Chiefs to punt. The Packers drove the ball down the field after making adjustments, but were stopped, and Mason Crosby made a field goal to make 17 all.
Then, the game’s biggest play was with LeSean McCoy fumbling and the Packers recovering on the Chiefs’ 27, two Rodgers’ scrambles and then what might be one of his best throws ever to Jamaal Williams in the corner of the end zone. I mean, he was falling down and falling sideways, and he dropped the ball in the perfect place. That throw was only slightly better than the one he made to Jake Kumerow during the game’s first drive. Both will be in his highlight reel for the Hall of Fame.
Are the Packers elite? The short answer is “not yet,” but the team has a chance to be by the end of the year, especially the way they are playing on offense. Aaron Jones is playing extremely well, and the receivers are playing good as a group. When Davante Adams returns, the offense will be better, but this time getting others involved will only help in the long run.
The Packers still have too many holes on defense to be considered one of the best in the NFC. Look at how well the Chiefs drove the ball behind Moore. Moore played very well, but the genius was in Reid’s play calling, and the Packers are going to meet some more very elite play callers when it gets to the playoffs.
Even though the 49ers are undefeated, it’s hard to know how good that team will be by the end of the season. Both the 49ers and Packers will find out more in week 12 when those teams face each other. It could have a first-round bye on the line. If you’re looking at who will be the Packers’ competition at the end of the season, look to the Seahawks, Saints and Vikings – yes, the Vikings. To me, it looks like those teams, the Packers and whoever wins the NFC East.
In the AFC, you saw how good the Chiefs can be. Think of how much better they will be with Mahomes. It will likely come down to the Chiefs and Patriots in the AFC. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a Chiefs and Packers rematch in the Super Bowl.