GREEN BAY – Good seasons for the Packers often go through Arrowhead Stadium.
There's no real rhyme or reason for it, it's just true, and the results have been mixed.
Back in 1996, the Packers were 8-1 before a loss at Kansas City started a mini two-game losing streak Green Bay bounced back from to eventually go all the way.
Then in 2011, the defending Super Bowl champion Packers were undefeated at 13-0 and taking a 19-game winning streak into their last road game of the season. But they succumbed to interim coach Romeo Crennel's Chiefs, the first sign that year was not ending the way the Packers hoped.
In between those was the good news, in 2007, when the 6-1 Packers went to Arrowhead and rallied furiously in the final five minutes to turn a six-point deficit into an 11-point triumph and get to 7-1. Historically, it was Green Bay's first and still only victory at Kansas City in six tries dating back to 1977.
The 2019 Packers have the exact same record the '07 crew did for this trip, so that's the scenario to latch onto. But there's no doubt the Chiefs have been a Packers nemesis over the years, more so than any other infrequently seen opponent.
Since beating Kansas City in Super Bowl I, the first meeting between the franchises, Green Bay is just 3-7-1 in this matchup, a .318 winning percentage that ranks as the Packers' worst against any team in the entire league.
Two of those three wins have come in the last three meetings – the Packers won at Lambeau in '15 along with the '07 road victory – so the tide has been turning, but still. To continue the trend against a team that was an eyelash from the Super Bowl last year and in a venue that hasn't been kind will be no easy task, even with Chiefs' MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes sidelined.
The biggest difference this time is the Chiefs are a Super Bowl contender, which they weren't in '96, '07 or '11. That's going to create an even more challenging atmosphere at a stadium already known for being difficult, and under the lights to boot. The crowd will be juiced to support its Mahomes-less team to keep the Super Bowl aspirations on track against an NFC contender.
"The key in that stadium … it's a loud stadium, you have to start fast, try and take the crowd out a little bit," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We expect the place to be rocking whether Pat plays or not."
Thus far in 2019, the Packers have handled tough road environments in Chicago and Dallas successfully while, strangely enough, the Chiefs have lost two straight at home to account for both of their losses this season.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur said this week he lets the players take ownership of the silent count and all the non-verbal signals with Rodgers to deal with the noise. He wasn't going to impose a new method on an accomplished quarterback who's had his ways for more than a decade, and thus far the Packers' offense has operated well on the road.
Arrowhead will be a new experience for LaFleur, who has only coached there in a preseason game with Houston back in 2009, but he's been preparing himself and his team for what to expect.
"I haven't been there when it's been at its full effect," LaFleur said. "But everything I've seen from there, and we've shown some video of how rowdy it can get, I know it's going to be a pretty electric atmosphere."
If the Packers can handle this one to start a stretch of four road games out of five on the right foot, it'll bode well as the heavy-travel portion of the schedule continues. Winning is the best tonic for potential road-weariness.
Shortening the view a little, the Packers are three games away from a get-healthy bye week that could set them up for the stretch run. They've put themselves in favorable position at 6-1, and now another good season is passing through Arrowhead.
"We're trending the right direction," Rodgers said. "We have a lot of faith in our guys and the abilities we have and the opportunities that are in front of us. This is a game we can learn a lot about ourselves, and hopefully it's accompanied by a win."