Packers-Chiefs shaping up different than anyone expected

KANSAS CITY (Mo.-- Sunday's Packers-Chiefs matchup was meant to be a battle between two teams with Super Bowl ambitions, one led by league MVPs and the other with fervent fan bases that want nothing less than another strong postseason run.

Packers-Chiefs shaping up different than anyone expected

KANSAS CITY (Mo.-- Sunday's Packers-Chiefs matchup was meant to be a battle between two teams with Super Bowl ambitions, one led by league MVPs and the other with fervent fan bases that want nothing less than another strong postseason run.

So, expectations are a thing of the past.

The Packers will not be hosting the reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers was positive for COVID-19. Instead of facing a Chiefs defense that is struggling, they will turn to Jordan Love, a second-year pro in his first professional start.

The record for the Packers (7-1) is at least in line with expectations.

The Chiefs (4-4) have not looked like a contender for the championship. Patrick Mahomes leads in the league in turnovers and interceptions, while Kansas City had to make a comeback Monday night to beat the Giants and their record eight weeks into the season.

The luster that was supposed Sunday's showdown to be accompanied by has diminished significantly.

Matt LaFleur, Packers coach, stated that "Nobody is going to feel sorry" for them. They won't postpone or cancel this game. We have a game and we are able to play it. It's a next-man-up mentality, and that's the way we have operated for everyone."

The Packers were able to overcome the losses of wide receivers Davante Adam and Allen Lazard, to COVID protocols, to hand the Cardinals their first loss of season last week.

They had a comfortable cushion of 3 1/2 games over the Vikings in NFC Central.

"Definitely, it's time to get some of the young leaders (me included) to step up. We've had an amazing leader to learn from," said Packers runningback Aaron Jones, who could be Love’s best friend Sunday. Now, use that knowledge and apply it."

The Chiefs believe they are still Super Bowl contenders, even though adding Melvin Ingram as a pass rusher ahead of the deadline to improve their shaky defense. They are still half-game behind Chargers who they have lost to once and 1 1/2 behind Raiders in an open AFC West.

Mahomes stated that "we're still moving and doing great things." However, Mahomes added, "but when you get penalized or turn the ball over, it ruins drives. Execution is everything in this league. If teams want you to drive the entire field, then you must show that you can execute.

The Chiefs have struggled to achieve this feat too many times this season. After giving up the ball twice against the Giants, they are now minus-11 in turnover differential. They also committed 12 penalties for 103 yard in Monday's game.

"It's not crazy, man. Willie Gay Jr., Chiefs linebacker, said that we just need to do our jobs. We can't let go of crazy deep balls. We cannot jump offsides. It's basic Football 101. You can't hurt yourself and they can't take the top off the defense. Do your job well and you will be fine.

BELIEVING IN LOVE

Love, a 2020 first round pick from Utah State, was a Packers choice even though he did not play as a rookie, and only sparingly in the season-opening loss to New Orleans. Love made significant progress after he was able to get the majority of reps, even though Rodgers didn't do mandatory minicamps or voluntary workouts.

"He's got his legs under him. Just more experience," Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark said. "I don't play on the offensive side of football, but you can see that he is more comfortable just by watching him."

TURNOVER TRUBBLE

Two-time AFC champion Chiefs have a record 19 turnovers in eight games. The Packers, on the other hand, are tied with Indianapolis for the second best turnover margin at plus-8.

"Whether it be us getting interceptions or getting pressure on the quarterback, or guys fumbling with the ball, we could punch the ball out. Clark stated that there is a lot we are seeing on film. Clark said, "That's something we're going all week to emphasize."

READ MORE ABOUT COVID-19

Adams and Lazard will play Sunday. Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry who was also positive last week but missed the Arizona game, is expected to also make the trip. Only positive vaccinees can return to the field after receiving two negative tests within 24 hours. Unvaccinated players must remain in isolation for 10 days.

FAN ANGST

Many Chiefs fans were upset by their performance leading up to last week's game. Safety Tyrann Mathieu called them "toxic" in an unpublished tweet. Mathieu quickly apologised, claiming he was simply frustrated by the season's progress and was received with the same adoring reception during pregame introductions.

LIVE AND LEARN

After Josh Gordon signed early in the season, the Chiefs have waited weeks for Josh Gordon's strong offense to catch up. Because it is so easy for defensive players to catch up, Ingram may be able to make an immediate impact.

We'll watch how it turns out. Andy Reid, Chiefs coach, said that we aren't going to place him in a difficult situation. "He just arrived and got to work (Wednesday), so it'll be interesting to see how he feels.

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