20-20 Vision: Packers Will Handle Chiefs for 20th Straight WinPosted:Dec 17th, 2011 5:42 pm
The Packers will play their final road game of the season on Sunday when they visit Arrowhead and the Chiefs. With the final two regular season games at Lambeau and homefield advantage just one victory away, the Pack will look to take care of business in Kansas City and finish the season a perfect 8-0 on the road for the first time in franchise history.
Monday's firing of head coach Todd Haley was the exclamation point on a very disappointing season, which imploded before it started when the Chiefs lost their best player on each side of the ball for the season: running back Jamal Charles and safety Eric Berry. The injury to Matt Cassell a month or so ago ended all hopes of a late season surge. The Tyler Palko has come to a merciful close and the Pack will face Kyle Orton for the second time this season.
Orton will try to breathe life into the 31st ranked offense--an offense that has scored a grand total of two touchdowns in the past four games. Their starting wideouts haven't scored in eight weeks. And Dwayne Bowe is a Pro Bowl talent at that position. The problem begins on the offensive line--they can't run block and they can't protect the quarterback. Orton is nursing an injured finger which he hurt on his very first snap at QB for the Chiefs.
Where the Chiefs excel is on defense, and you can bet they will play their best game of the season on Sunday, since their coach, Romeo Crennel, is now the man in charge. They have an elite pass rusher in Tamba Hali and young Justin Houston looks like a third round steal (some thought the Packers might grab him in the first or second round). It gives them a one-two punch and a challenge for Newhouse and Lang on the left side of the line.
With James Starks and Brandon Saine both listed as questionable, the running load might fall to Ryan Grant and John Kuhn. Expect most of the yardage to come through the air. The biggest question is how the ball is spread around in Greg Jennings' absence. Look for James Jones to step up and Jermichael Finley to get more targets. Randall Cobb will also become a bigger part of the offense. You get the feeling they've been saving him for just this opportunity.
Temperatures should be in the low to mid-50s and you can bet the place will be rocking. I've never been to a game there, but those that have will tell you it rivals Lambeau with its passionate fan base and ambience. Despite a 5-8 record, the Chiefs have played hard--showing their toughness in a narrow loss to the Steelers a couple of weeks back and they will play hard for Crennel.
The Pack would wrap up the #1 seed in the NFC with a win and, of course, would win for the 20th straight time, one behind the 2002-03 Patriots for the all-time record. This one might not be real easy--it will not resemble the Raiders game. I think the Chiefs can disrupt the Pack with a good pass rush and solid corners. But I see the Pack taking charge in the second half and heading home for a five week stint at home in Titletown.
Packers 24 Chiefs 13