After struggling through the first two months of the season, the Green Bay Packers are finding their footing. A manageable schedule awaits the Packers, but their biggest win of the season came on Sunday, against the Kansas City Chiefs.
With a tie-breaker over the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers now sit in the 7th seed of the NFC playoff bracket. Just a month ago, this seemed unfathomable. The Packers struggled through the first two months of the season, but the team has turned a corner. They now sit within striking distance of the playoffs. Having slayed the Chiefs, Green Bay got through its toughest remaining hurdle of the season.
Green Bay Packers Slay Kansas City Chiefs
What it Took to Win
Stiffling Kansas City is no easy task. The Chiefs offense boasts two future Hall of Fame players, plus a coach bound for the Hall of Fame. Forcing Patrick Mahomes into mistakes was one of the biggest keys for Green Bay. Mahomes threw his 10th interception of the season at a crucial point in the game when Keisan Nixon made a spectacular break on the ball while covering Sky Moore. The play by Nixon effectively iced the game for Green Bay. The Packers had outgained the Chiefs up to that point and had held Mahomes to under 200 yards passing. Mahomes threw the crucial interception on 1st and 10, which had been a trend for him throughout the season.
While Green Bay gave up more than 100 yards rushing to Isaiah Pacheco, their defense came through in crunch time. The young secondary, buoyed by Jaire Alexander, has played considerably well. Though Carrington Valentine caught some heat for being involved in a no-call pass interference at the end of the game, the rookie has played well after being thrust into the lineup following the trade of Rasul Douglas. Few expected the Packers young secondary to play as well as their young skill players on offense, but that is a big reason why they were able to slay the Chiefs.
Ratings and box scores only paint so much of the picture, but this was the second time that Jordan Love kept pace with Mahomes. It was Mahomes’ first visit to Lambeau Field, and Green Bay forced him into taking three sacks, as well as the crucial interception. Mahomes posted a QBR of 53.7, according to ESPN stats, while Love managed a QBR of 90.3. A performance such as this one from Love and the offense should give the Packers plenty of steam as they look to roll into the playoffs hot.
Heading into the final five games of the season, Green Bay does not play a team with a winning record. Only the Minnesota Vikings, who beat the Packers at the end of October, field a non-losing record. The Packers and Vikings square off in prime time on New Year’s Eve, in a game that will carry huge playoff implications. While the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers are merely playing out the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain alive in the playoff bracket. A huge home game against the Chicago Bears to end the season, however, should not be taken lightly.
All in all, the Packers are getting hot at the right time. Love has been a huge reason for their success. Since the start of November, Love has thrown 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions. His receivers, also, have stepped up and made massive plays when it mattered most. Christian Watson, in particular, took a while to get going. In his absence, the Packers saw a new 1-2 punch emerge on offense. But since the start of November, Watson has scored four touchdowns on just 17 receptions. He and Romeo Doubs have re-established themselves as two of the Packers most important playmakers.
The running game, as well, has seen a spark. A.J. Dillon came into the NFL as a bruising, downhill runner. While he started his tenure in Green Bay on a good foot, Dillon looked sluggish at times through both 2022 and early parts of 2023. Like his teammates, Dillon got hot in November. His average yards per carry climbed, and he also contributed to the rushing attack by busting off his longest career run against Pittsburgh. An effective running game has largely led to a more balanced passing attack for the Packers.
With a formidable pass rush, which has registered 8 sacks in their last three games, this young secondary should continue to excel. More big plays by the secondary will go a long way in determining the fate of the Packers, especially as they face a few untested quarterbacks in December.
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