Packers QB Jordan Love takes center stage against Chiefs
Just when a matchup between two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks provided additional intrigue because of the disparate circumstances they face with their respective teams, a bombshell ruined the billing.
Aaron Rodgers is sidelined after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and an anticipated showdown against Patrick Mahomes will not materialize Sunday.
Nonetheless, the red-hot Green Bay Packers (7-1) will carry a seven-game winning streak against the uneven Kansas City Chiefs (4-4) at Kansas City, Mo.
Stating that “nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur would not reveal whether Rodgers was vaccinated but expressed confidence Green Bay had followed protocols established by the NFL.
Second-year quarterback Jordan Love will start in place of Rodgers.
“We have a game to play,” LaFleur said “It’s the next-man-up mentality and that’s how we’ve operated for everybody. I think our guys will rally around Jordan. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him, and what a great opportunity for him to showcase what he can do.”
Davante Adams remained out due to COVID protocols Wednesday, along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry. However, LaFleur hopes to have both back Thursday.
During Green Bay’s preseason action, Love took the majority of snaps in two games as Rodgers’ frosty offseason relationship with Green Bay management continued. The only extended action for the 2020 first-round pick from Utah State came during a blowout loss at New Orleans in the season opener. He went 5-for-7 passing.
Without Rodgers’ savvy leadership, the Packers could rely more on Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, who have combined for 772 rushing yards.
“It’s not all on me and A.J., but I do feel we have to step up a bit,” Jones said.
The Packers are tied with the Cardinals and Rams for the NFL’s best record.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have struggled, committing a league-high 19 turnovers as the two-time reigning AFC champions. Mahomes ranks third in the NFL with 2,368 yards passing but has thrown a league-high 10 interceptions against 19 touchdowns.
In his defense, several interceptions have caromed off Chiefs receivers. Nonetheless, Mahomes has often been inaccurate while attempting to solve cover-2 schemes that have tested his patience and that of coach Andy Reid with his play-calling.
“When the defenses are playing a lot of shell coverages like they are, you have to run the ball,” said Mahomes, “and just continue to do that, continue to evolve that more and more within the offense.”
Derrick Gore, who was on two other teams’ practice squads before joining the Chiefs, got his first test as an NFL rusher and responded with 48 yards and one touchdown in Monday’s 20-17 win over the New York Giants. Gore will work in tandem with starter Darrel Williams.
Nonetheless, the Chiefs will continue trying to exploit opportunities deep while still attempting to blend Josh Gordon with standouts Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Kansas City acquired veteran Melvin Ingram this week from the Steelers to try to bolster a defense that allows more yards per play (6.4) than any NFL team. Ingram could provide much-needed pressure off the edge. The Chiefs total just 11 sacks.
“I’m more excited about his leadership and what he’s going to provide on that end,” said Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu. “I look at him as one of those guys who’s a (feisty) dog.”
Offensive guard Mike Remmers (knee) remains out for Kansas City, while linebacker Anthony Hitchens (triceps) could return.
–Field Level Media