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Butler's Breakdown: Packers vs. Chiefs


Just when the Green Bay Packers got finished snapping one team's winning streak, another undefeated team comes to Lambeau Field this weekend.

And while the Seattle Seahawks are good, the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs could be the best team in football.

On offense the Packers are going against a Chiefs defense that's much improved from the 2002 season.

Although ranked 26th in terms of total yards, the Chiefs defense has allowed the sixth-fewest points in the NFL.

One of Kansas City's key offseason acquisitions was Vonnie Holliday, who should be a familiar name to Packers fans because he played five seasons in Green Bay.

Strong against the run at the point of attack, the Chiefs' defensive schemes have been set up perfectly to allow Holliday to make plays as a pass rusher. He already has four sacks this season, and Packers fans need only remember the preseason game in Canton to imagine what it might look like if Holliday gets a clear path to Brett Favre.

Going back to Lambeau Field for the first time, Holliday will take this game personally. But the Packers offensive line will be equally determined to shut down the 1998 first-round draft pick.

Green Bay's O-line has given up only two sacks this season and has allowed Ahman Green to tally three 100-yard rushing games, so this should be an exciting battle to watch.

Linebacker Shawn Barber, who signed with the Chiefs after one season with the Philadelphia Eagles and four with the Washington Redskins, is another force to be reckoned with. Barber leads the team with 47 tackles.

As a group, Kansas City plays very physical and they're very well coached. Considering that they're undefeated, they're also very confident.

As usual, the Packers must establish the run with Green. They've been successful at that in recent weeks, but expect that offensive coordinator Tom Rossley has added a few new wrinkles to keep Kansas City on their heels.

One thing the Chiefs have proven able to do is make adjustments. If you watched their game against Denver last week, you saw Clinton Portis break off a few long runs from the wishbone formation. But the Chiefs made adjustments and eventually contained Portis.

The Chiefs defense leads the NFL with 15 takeaways, so the Packers must be careful not to turn the ball over. That said, they have to play aggressively and be willing to take a few chances.

In recent weeks the Packers have had success on shorter passing routes, but I expect them to take some shots downfield this week, because I think the Green Bay receivers match up well with the Kansas City corners.

As tough as the Packers offense will have it Sunday, the defense is facing an even bigger challenge.

With Priest Holmes at running back and Trent Green at quarterback, the Chiefs remind me of that St. Louis Rams team that won the Super Bowl with Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner.

Trent Green loves to go downfield and is always looking for the big play. He has a strong arm and he reads defenses well, but he has thrown six interceptions this season.

Holmes leads the team in receptions, but another top target is wide receiver Johnnie Morton. Before coming to the Chiefs, Morton spent eight seasons with the Detroit Lions, so Mike McKenzie should be familiar with him.

McKenzie has been shutting down receivers this season with a team-high 13 passes defensed. He seems due for his second interception of the year.

In the red zone, the Chiefs like to split out tight end Tony Gonzalez like a receiver while bringing the receiver inside like a tight end. When the receiver goes in motion that leaves Gonzalez 1-on-1 with a linebacker or safety.

Trent Green likes to throw the ball up and let Gonzalez jump up there to get it. Gonzalez played basketball as well as football at the University of California, and he's played hoops with the Miami Heat, so he has leaping ability.

He's a big guy, but very athletic. He runs very good routes and is better in the passing game than the running game, but Gonzalez has been one of the top three tight ends in the league the past five or six years.

Gonzalez will get the ball thrown his way in the red zone, and it will be up to safety Darren Sharper to try and shut him down.

As explosive as the Chiefs' passing game is, Holmes is the guy that makes the offense go.

Whether running or receiving, Holmes will touch the ball at least 30 times and the Packers defense must be aware of him always.

The defensive line has to penetrate and make Holmes cut back so the linebackers can make plays.

On first and second down, Holmes will be covered by a linebacker. On third down, a defensive back will be matched up on him.

Holmes has to have the Packers' attention at all times, kind of like a box-and-1 defense in basketball.

When the Packers blitz, they have to go right at Holmes. If they blitz toward him, that forces Holmes to stay in the pocket to make blocks. If they blitz away from him, that could mean trouble.

Holmes will make his plays, but the Packers have to make him work for everything he gets, and the linebackers have to be ready and willing to cover like defensive backs.

The Kansas City offense likes to scan the defense and attack match-up problems, so Sharper will have to make the proper audibles when needed.

If Antuan Edwards doesn't play, Marques Anderson needs to continue to make strides this week. He has to tackle well, because you can't afford to miss with Holmes.

Having said all of that, you can forget about offense and defense this week.

If you don't know about Chiefs return man Dante Hall, you've been living on the moon.

He's been the special teams player of the week pretty much the entire season, hogging the highlights on every local and national sports show.

Hall is a dynamic player, but he hasn't created all of the success on his own. The Chiefs have excellent blocking schemes, and Hall does a great job following the wedge.

If he sees a crease, he hits it hard. That's how he makes his money.

On punt returns he'll field the ball anywhere, even inside the 10-yard line. He's hard to kick away from because he has the speed to go get the ball anywhere.

Punting it out of bounds might seem like an easy answer, but that's hard to do. Right now the Packers are ranked first in punt coverage, and special teams coordinator John Bonamego is sure to have an excellent plan in place to try and contain Hall.

The key is to get enough hang time on punts that you can have at least five guys waiting on Hall when he catches the ball. Robert Ferguson, who was outstanding in coverage last week, and Marcus Wilkins and the rest of the Packers special teamers better be ready to fly up the field and contain Hall.

On the other side of the field, what better time could there be for Antonio Chatman to break one? The Packers have been close numerous times this season, and this could be the week Chatman finally gets noticed.

The match-up between Hall and Chatman is worth the price of admission right there. This it the only game of the season where people will make trips to the concession stand when the Packers have the ball so they can be back in their seats to watch special teams.

Teams don't get much better than the Chiefs right now, so if the Packers want to prove that they're among the NFL's elite, this is their chance.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is providing exclusive analysis to Monday, Packers fans will be able to submit questions to LeRoy for his Tuesday column.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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