10 Observations as Chiefs Beat Packers, Plus the Play of the Game, Numbers to Know & More
Subscribe for daily newsletters for just $50 per year, and support KC teachers in the process
The Chiefs (5-4) won 13-7 Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium in a game that required phenomenal performances by the Chiefs’ defense and special teams to beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers (7-2) team.
#NoLossNovember is still in play as the Chiefs now find themselves with only two AFC teams with more wins than they currently have after nine games - the Titans (7-2) and Ravens (6-2), but there’s plenty of work to do.
Here’s what stood out on Sunday:
Play Of The Game
It feels rather unfair to choose a Play Of The Game from the offensive side of the football given how well the Chiefs’ defense performed against the Green Bay Packers but here we are. Most people would probably say the most important play of this game was the final 3rd down pass from Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill on third and 10 to finish the game off; however there was an equally important pass earlier in that same drive.
That’s right, the 22 yard play-action throwback play to Travis Kelce on second and 12 to get this drive actually going. Leading up to this point, the Chiefs had run 20 offensive plays in the second half for a measly 45 yards. The first down run went for negative two and the Packers were coming off their first score of the game to bring them within six points. The Chiefs needed a long drive here and the Mahomes-Kelce connection delivered.
After the negative yard run play the Chiefs opted for a play-action pass on the next play. While the run action didn’t fool the Packers’ defense the overall play design did. With Kelce operating on the backside of the run, he releases off the line of scrimmage with a “poor” fake block attempt. I use parentheses because I imagine it was supposed to look like that as he is really trying to draw attention to what looks like a fake bootleg concept with Kelce on a crossing route.
Kelce is angling as if he’s trying to cross the field and open up to Mahomes on the right hand side of the offense. At this same point, Mahomes is working to his right - as is the running back as a safety valve - creating a general flow to that side of the field. Then suddenly, Kelce breaks back to the left while Mahomes quickly resets his feet and throws across the field.
Thanks to the fake bootleg action drawing the defense out to the right and a well designed Sail route by the backside wide receiver, no one is left to challenge Kelce at the catch point. The Chiefs were able to create a ton of space utilizing misdirection and the raw talent of Mahomes paired with the intelligence of Kelce.
Great play, great design, and perfect execution to steal some confidence back for the Chiefs’ offense.
Here are 10 OBSERVATIONS from a big win against the Green Bay Packers.
Offense Starts Fast
The only touchdown of the day for the Chiefs came on the opening drive of the game. Mahomes found Travis Kelce off of play action for the only time they found the end zone.
Spags Dials It Up
Steve Spagnuolo brought heat on young Packers quarterback Jordan Love throughout the game — forcing him to think quick, deliver against pressure, and try to complete low percentage throws. He didn’t for the majority of the game.
Early Down Success on Defense
The reason Spags was able to get into has bag of blitzes? Good early down defense. The Chiefs’ defense did a good job getting the Packers into third and mediums and third and long to allow for more exotic pressures.
Special Teams Was Special
With a field goal block, fumble recovery on punt return, and nearly coming up with another, the special teams unit had their best game in what feels like years. Chris Lammons put together his best performance as a Chiefs.
Offense Doesn’t Turn It Over
A major factor in the outcome in this game was the fact that the Chiefs kept a zero in the turnover stat. This team has shot themselves in the foot so much with their ball protection — not making a key mistake was to flip field position was crucial.
KC Sports Network @KCSportsNetworkChiefs Continue No Loss November With Narrow Win Over Packers | KCSN Live Postgame 11/7 https://t.co/C9AFAZiOxS
Offense Still Struggled
The turnover margin was fixed this week, but a lot of the issues we’ve seen offensively still remain. They struggled to sustain drives during the game — and the offense stayed disjointed. There’s plenty to build on this game, but issues remain.
The Pass Rush Was Alive
It wasn’t just the blitzes that were affecting the passer. The Chiefs’ pass rush had a lot of success against a good offensive line. The usual suspects — Chris Jones and Frank Clark — put together a good stretch of rushes. So did newcomer Melvin Ingram — who absolutely looked the part of a key contributor down the stretch.
L’Jarius Sneed: Playmaker
The Chiefs got their hands on plenty of Jordan Love passes, but finally converted on a fade route that Sneed was able to rope in in the red zone. It was a massive play — as the Packers had their best drive to that point of the game. Finally converting was crucial in the game’s outcome.
Final Drive Seals Game
With the offense lifeless for the majority of the game, the Chiefs were able to string together a couple first downs to secure a victory. Key catches from Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill highlighted the final drive — with Mahomes extending the third down play to give Hill a chance to close it out.
Mojo Coming Back?
Mahomes admitted he let out some frustration and pent up energy as he converted the key third down to Tyreek Hill to seal the game. That final drive looked like the Chiefs of old — key plays from their best players in Travis Kelce and Hill. Mahomes rolled out of the pocket and found Hill — who made a big catch to ice the game.
Perhaps that’s the moment we look back on.
50% - Blitz percentage for the Chiefs defense
The Chiefs brought the house early and often against Jordan Love in his first start —and did it ever pay off. Love had a 35% completion rate and averaged just 1.76 yards per dropback against the blitz. The Chiefs got home often and forced the young quarterback off his spot repeatedly when blitzing, leading to some poor play — especially on third downs where the Packers went just 2-for-12 on the day.
It was a terrific strategy for Steve Spagnuolo, who tested the communication between Love, his offensive line, and his running backs in pass protection. Spagnuolo pulled out all the stops, simulating pressures, looping rushers, and creating chaos with his pressure packages to routinely get free rushers. Love was fading away from the blitz often and was clearly tired of taking hits just after the ball left his hands.
This defense has started to come into its own as of late, and it seems to have found some of its aggressive identity again. You can see the confidence that players like Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Tyrann Mathieu are carrying — and it’s transferring to the rest of the defense. Spagnuolo was finally able to embrace that aggressiveness again this week against a first-time starter at quarterback, and the effect bled through into a confident defense. Let’s see if that confidence keeps rolling into the next two weeks.
3.8 - Yards per play for the Chiefs offense
For all the confidence the defense is showing right now, the Chiefs offense looks quite the opposite. Drops, penalties, inaccurate throws, missed receivers, and overall poor execution of some stagnant playcalls have this once unstoppable juggernaut resembling a bottom-tier unit. While they didn’t turn the ball over on the day -- not for lack of trying — the offense struggled to move the ball and had four three and outs, including a series where they gained -1 yards, took 1:04 off the clock, and punted after the defense gifted them a turnover.
The Chiefs offense has posted a yards per play average of 5.01 in their last five games — dating back to the Buffalo Bills beatdown. That’s worse than any Andy Reid season (even 2013) and equal to the 2012 mess that the Chiefs faced. This offense was historic through their first four games, with only turnovers stopping them from averaging north of 35 points per game. Now it seems like a slog when they’re on the field, as something is decidedly “off” within a unit that we know is better than this.
54.3 - Net punting yards for Tommy Townsend
The Chiefs special teams unit was their best group on the day — and that’s saying something with the way the defense played. A blocked kick, a 55-yard bomb in the wind from Harrison Butker, and terrific kick return coverage were all crucial to the Chiefs six-point victory over the Packers. However, it was Townsend who was an absolute weapon for the Chiefs on Sunday.
Townsend buried a whopping five punts inside the Packers 15 yard line despite punting on average from his own 35 yard line — including two muffed punts, one which was recovered by the Chiefs. He punted a staggering six times for his team, and only one (from the Chiefs 4 yard line) didn’t stop inside the Packers 30 yard line.
On a day where the Chiefs offense couldn’t get much going and the defense couldn’t get much rest in between series, the field position game was critical to keep the team surging forward. It’s not often that we get to say that a punter helped make a massive difference in the game, but on Sunday he absolutely did.
SHMS Mavericks @SHMSMavericks@KCSportsNetwork delivered cookies from @CookieSociety to us today as a part of their #FeedItForward campaign! 🍪 Thank you for selecting SHMS this week and appreciating our staff here, #KCSN! 💛 https://t.co/t4EvZjaMer