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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What's the key for Packers' offense vs. Chiefs' defense?

Editor Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. Hopefully technology is on our side this time. I see some questions coming in, so I'll get started. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Mahomes, Kelce, and Rice? I'd also throw Pacheco in there, too.

Yeah, the Chiefs have weapons. Their offense has been plenty inconsistent, but that stretch last week vs. the Raiders where they scored four TDs in five possessions is something they're capable of at any time.

Hey Mike, when will we know if next week's Monday night game is flexed or not?

I think today is the deadline, and I'm guessing we would have heard by now if it was getting flexed. It was never likely to be switched with the Jets playing at home at MetLife on Sunday already.

Mike first things first where's inbox?

It's posted on the site as far as I know.

Hi Mike.. Thanks for doing this every week.. My question is about our injured.. I heard that Eric Stokes and Darnell Savage might be activated for Sunday night. I haven't seen where they have been practicing much if at all.. What are the chances one of both are up for the game?

LaFleur sounded hopeful on Monday but he wasn't guaranteeing anything. There really weren't any practices last week, just walk-throughs, so even though Savage's activation window opened, he didn't do much. Stokes' window opened Monday and he was out there. We'll just have to see how the week goes.

What are the weaknesses of the Chiefs defense (if any) and how do the Packers exploit them?

I don't know if they have any weaknesses. This might be the best KC defense Mahomes has had, including the two Super Bowl champs. Chris Jones is a beast. You just can't get in third-and-longs against these guys. The Packers have converted a number of those the last few games, but that'll be a lot harder against these guys.

Any insider inbox today?

I'm hearing it didn't appear in the usual spot in the app. We're attempting to rectify that. It just got shoved down below some other content for some reason. You should be able to find it pretty easily very soon.

I found it very interesting looking at Kansas City's offense this year. Seems as though they are less inclined to throw deep, rather stringing 10-11 play drives to go the length of the field. Packers need to tackle well in space to give their offense a chance and get after Mahomes (easier said than done).

After a rough day in Pittsburgh, the Packers' tackling has been much better the last two weeks. The one big miss vs. the Chargers allowed a TD, but the Lions game might've been one of the better tackling games all season. The Packers have to stay at that standard.

It'd exciting to see the progress Heath is making. I kept thinking of D Sheppard? Who seemed similar with the preseason hype but couldn't put it together for the games.

Totally different players, body types, everything. Heath is an aggressive dude who will throw a big block with the best of them. He really seems to have picked up his game since dropping that ball over the middle vs. the Rams a few weeks ago.

With young players you can never tell, but I would like to think two wins in a row, mini bye week... A good showing Monday night? What do you feel from this team?

They're coming around, but they can't start listening to or buying into all the hype. Two weeks ago, everyone wrote this team off. Now there's all this playoff chatter because the Seahawks and Vikings have lost games recently. Don't ride the rollercoaster. Just keep the head down and plow forward. That's how this team has made progress and there's more progress to be made.

Mike, we were in a similar position at this point last year (win and in). Are you more optimistic this season or last? This just feels like a more interesting season!

They don't really compare to me because the situations are totally different. It's a cliche, but all you can do is take it one week at a time. The picture can change dramatically one week to the next in this league.

Not saying I'm happy Rasul is gone, but wow, Carrington Valentine has impressed since the trade deadline.

Again, every young player getting an opportunity has had his rough moments and then bounced back and moved forward positively. Valentine did not have a good day in Denver. Since then, it's like he's a different player, much more like the one we saw in preseason.

Mike, do you remember seeing the turkey on the field game live in 1988 ? Did Cliff Christl ever do a story on that fun story ? Kudos to NFL films for featuring it last week.

I didn't remember that at all. I don't recall Cliff doing a story either, but I'll ask him about it next time I see him.

Did the Tom that Rodgers always referred to in his press conferences go with him to the Jets or did he stay with the team?

No, Tom Fanning is still with the Packers, and he handles all of Jordan Love's media obligations now.

Hey, Mike
The WYMM this week is a real eye opener. The team work required to get results is quite revealing. Great job!

Thanks. I dug into the offensive film wondering how Hutchinson was such a non-factor and I was pretty amazed at what I found. Three guys blocking him on some plays. Two-TE sets with neither running a route and doing a straight double-team. The Packers were determined to not let him do what he did to the offense in Week 4.

If you were the Packers head coach and won the coin toss this week, would you take the ball first?

Interesting question. I'm generally in the prefer to defer category, because I like getting the ball coming out of half when you get an idea of how the game is going. But taking the ball first last week certainly shifted how things went compared to the first game vs. Detroit. I still think it'll be opponent- and game plan-dependent for LaFleur.

Not heard much about MVS this year, do they have a different speed receivers

MVS has only 15 receptions this season. Rashee Rice, the rookie second-rounder from SMU, is their second-biggest threat in the passing game after Kelce. Rice had his first 100-yard game last week vs. the Raiders. He's coming on strong.

What makes Kelce so hard to cover? Seems he always gets open

They scheme things up for him. He also just knows where to sit down in the zone and Mahomes gets him the ball in a flash. He can break a lot of tackles too. He's just a tough matchup. Put a safety on him, and he can use his size to outmuscle him for the ball. Put a LB on him and he has the speed to run away.

Is KC defense better than Detroit's?

Right now, I'd say yes. Earlier in the season, the Lions were playing much better on defense than they are right now. Their last two games vs. the Bears and Packers haven't been what Detroit has been accustomed to on defense. I thought KC's defense really held a tough Eagles offense in check on that Monday night until late in the game.

When a high profile team like the Chiefs come to town for a nationally televised game, what do you look forward to the most/the least?

With night games, I don't look forward to being at the office all night to get the work done. It throws me off for a couple days. But no matter the opponent, I always look forward to a game at Lambeau when I know the crowd is going to be into it and there are good vibes surrounding the team. I expect the crowd to bring it after how the Packers played on Thanksgiving in Detroit.

Wicks cleared protocol and should be available for SNF, right?

He cleared concussion protocol yes. He was also listed on the injury report last week with a knee (I think) and I don't know the status of that injury.

I believe theres a possibility the Packers "might" get back Rudy Ford, Savage, Stokes, Jaire Alexander, De'Vondre Campbell, Dontayvion Wicks AND Aaron Jones this Sunday. Am I correct. Is there a chance they all return?

It's still early in the week, but I'd say the chances for some are better than others. If Jones can be back this fast, that would really be something. I think with some of those other guys, if last week's game had been on Sunday rather than Thursday, they might've been good to go.

Head down and plow forward- advice for fans as well? Wink wink

Something like that, sure.

Is there any chance to give Jordan Love an option play for either a go to Watson or a Jet Sweep, or is that impossible. It would certainly be hard to cover

If you're asking could they run Watson on a jet sweep, but fake it to him and have him run a go route off that motion, sure, it's possible. Would take some good pass protection up front to let it develop, but I could see it.

Mike, I always expected MVS to do more than he did for the Packers. He's also under-achieved in my eyes at KC. He'll want a TD on Sunday though. You've mentioned Rice, is MVS a big concern or not?

He's always a concern because he can take the top off the defense and you have to respect that.

Hey Mike, why do you think people seem so down on AJ Dillon? I know he hasn't become a franchise-type back, but he's solid, a good-to-great blocker, and becoming a more dangerous outlet receiver. Seems to have a good attitude as well. You need guys like that on a team

Dillon got off to a rough start this season, but the last month or more, he's been much more like the player everyone envisioned. I think he just decided to mentally cut it loose a little bit and not think too much about trying to make the the perfect read or perfect play. He's reliable and his teammates and coaches trust him a ton.

JL has shown much progress this season, but his deep balls are still under thrown. Is it maybe the timing? If he releases them earlier, perhaps he could connect with his receivers in stride?

It's still a work in progress. Watson's deep routes are going to be different from Romeo Doubs'. It's incredibly hard to throw a 60-yard pass right on the money. I don't think people realize how often longtime starting QBs in the NFL aren't able to do that. But if the receivers can get a good read on the ball and fight for it, big plays can still be made.

Why are there so many bad teams in the NFC this year?

I don't know if it's a lot of bad teams, or more like one really good team (the Eagles), a couple others that look pretty darn good most of the time (Niners and Cowboys) and a bunch of other teams fighting to climb the ladder. The Bears just won on the road on MNF, and should've beaten the Lions the previous week. Who knows what happens with Carolina now that they've shaken things up. I take nothing for granted in this league.

Whose turn is it this week for a big play? Karl Brooks or Colby Wooden? They have been exciting to watch. I don't remember getting so much out of the D line depth in the past

I agree, both of those guys have had their moments and they seem to keep coming.

The key to stopping Kelce is speedy LBs. How are we in that department?

I think both Walker and Campbell are solid in coverage. Walker is probably a bit faster in the open field. I don't think covering Kelce one-on-one is doable. I think you have to devote more attention to him.

Hard to keep Jonathan Owens out when Ford and Savage come back.

That'll be an interesting decision. Maybe they'll develop a rotation of sorts, like the offensive line is doing, I don't know. Fresh bodies can always help in certain moments.

Hopefully, no sea of red Sunday night!

There could be a bunch of KC fans given the Chiefs haven't played here for 8 years and have won two Super Bowls since then. That wouldn't surprise me. But I still expect the GB crowd to be fired up and into the game.

I tried 3 times last week to give accolades to the POV piece on Tucker Kraft. Quite a story. Can't help but pull for the guy. He's a good dude, too. Another draft pick with the right stuff!

I'm really interested to see where he goes in this offense. I think he and Musgrave could be a pretty special tandem moving forward.

People need to realize that throwing a football 60 yards downfield to a sprinting receiver, guarded by a cornerback is really hard to do.

Thank you.

We may have been 'trap' game for Detroit but no way KC is unaware GB is a playoff contender, this feels like a bigger test of progress which we need

If last Thursday was a trap game for Detroit, that's on them. They were down 12 to the Bears with 4 minutes left, and that should've gotten their attention. Maybe it was good for the Packers the Lions still won that game.

4-2 from here on out I feel is a 90% shot to get a wildcard

I'm not sure about 90%, but I think nine wins makes for pretty good odds to get a spot.

Also if you don't mind, how does one get into a position such as yourself? What path did you take college wise, working your way up, etc? I'm genuinely interested in knowing what it takes. Thanks!

I went to Lawrence University and majored in English and Spanish. From there, I went to grad school in journalism at Northwestern. Then I worked in the newspaper business for more than eight years, covering a lot of high school and college sports (with some Packers mixed in) before I landed here. I'm not sure my route even exists anymore, though, because newspaper staffs have been cut back so much it's hard to break in. But that's the path I took.

Do you think Cousins will sign with the Vikings for next year, some say no.

That's an interesting call. It sure sounds like Cousins wants to stay in Minnesota. I wouldn't be surprised if he's back there.

Curious your thoughts on the TE situation and what you think of Kraft? I see him as the every down TE and Luke Musgrave more as a passing option after his return from IR... Kraft really seems better in that in-line blocking and releasing type role

I think Musgrave can do that, too. The more both of those guys play and learn the pro game, the more they'll learn to do and expand what they're good at. They have so much growth in front of them there no need to pigeon-hole what their strengths are now.

Getting pressure up the middle in Mahomes face can certainly be a key to stopping Kelce, too.

True, but containing Mahomes in the pocket is also key. He can kill defenses with his legs. You can defend third-and-9 perfectly for six or seven seconds against him, and he'll find a way to scramble out and run to the marker at the boundary for the first down. He's the king of deflating third-down conversions in my book.

Why was Anthony Johnson cut?

The seventh-round draft pick at safety was not cut. The other Anthony Johnson, a CB on the practice squad, was let go.

Can we beat Kansas City?

Sure, the Packers can win the game. Will they? That's why we watch.

Hi Mike, when will we get Musgrave back?

There's no guarantee he can come back this year, but he's out a minimum of a few more weeks at this point anyway before the rest will be assessed.

I don't really think KC cares where GB is in the playoff run. They're looking up at BAL - and I certainly would rather play BAL at home than on their turf.

The battle for the lone bye in the AFC and home field is wide open. It's anybody's to win, and KC has its eyes on it.

Mike, have you seen anything that would indicate the Packers performance in Detroit shows a team on the upswing, not just a 'lucky day' in the office?

It was more progress offensively from what the Packers showed against Pittsburgh and the Chargers. The offense has been trending in that direction for a few weeks now. The other side of what we saw in Detroit is how much better Green Bay's defense can play with a multi-score lead. The defense hadn't been in that position really since Week 1 at Chicago.

I think everyone hoping a 9-8 record gets us in should become an Atlanta Falcon fan since they are only NFC south with tie-breaker on us

Right, the Falcons winning the NFC South would be good for the Packers because they wouldn't enter the wild-card/tiebreaker picture.

Mike, are you confident in saying JLo is our QB1 for the foreseeable future? I'm ready for the front office to offer him an extension.

I think he's shown a ton of progress with still plenty of potential out there for him. You have to like what you see. But the ultimate decision is way above my pay grade.

I think the number one goal remaining in ten season is determine if Jordan Love is the QB to build around followed by continued growth of a young team. Playoffs would be a bonus.

I think that's fair. Seeing all these young players on offense get a taste of chasing a playoff spot and the pressure that comes with it could prove valuable moving forward, too.

I'm interested to know when you both feel Mahomes has essentially become hall of famer?

I can't pinpoint it, but I was pretty sure a couple of years ago. Maybe the 13-second drive for a FG in the playoffs vs. the Bills was the biggest moment for me.

What else do you want to see from Love before you're (a theoretical GM) ready to offer him a long-term extension? I haven't, yet, seen a really "wow" game, but I've seen him patient through adversity, mount comebacks, and perform well when the team around him isn't at its best. I'd like to see the 4 TD/350 yard game, but a continuation of the past 4 weeks could well get us in to the playoffs, which would be amazing, considering how much has gone wrong this year, and the age of the team

I don't need to see some monster game necessarily. Those are often a product of just how a game goes, the way a particular contest unfolds. While I still expect a step back here or there, the key now is for any steps back in progress to be minimal, and quickly rectified by more continued progress with how efficiently he can operate the offense when others around him are playing well.

Mike, based on 12 games, I do think Love is a keeper. He's got good situational awareness, pocket presence and more than passes the eye test. His instincts are solid as well. His offense is building around him. What's not to like? :)

I think his play has improved in concert with the play of those around him improving as well, which was the hope. I think there was hope it might come along a bit sooner, but if it's there, it's there. Now where does it go? We'll learn a lot these last six games.

If the Packers beat the Chiefs, the next challenge will be how this young team handles success

Totally agree.

I think it's time for Keisean Nixon to take one to the house. No question…just putting that out to the universe!

Sign me up.

What was your most exciting and memorable high school sporting event when working for the Wausau Daily.

There were a lot of them. Some big state tournament games, etc. Too many to mentioned. But the one I'll never forget was a DC Everest vs. Wis Rapids football game that ended 70-63, in regulation. 19 touchdowns, more than 1,200 yards of offense combined. Only one of the TDs was on defense/ST, too, a kickoff return I think. The rest were all on offensive plays from scrimmage. It was incredible. Wildest football game I've ever witnessed.

I don't know why everyone is in such a hurry to determine Love's status. He's under contract now till the end of next year. It's best to wait and pay more and be right, then to pay a little less and be wrong. Look at the Giants

Good point.

I was hoping we would see a 'breakout' star among our young receivers by now, your thoughts?

I think Jayden Reed is that guy, and I don't think Dontayvion Wicks is too far behind. I can see both of those guys playing significant roles in this offense in the coming years.

Chasing a playoff spot, and then being able to play in a playoff game (win or lose) would be good building blocks for next season.

I agree.

4TDs and 350 yards for Love probably means our defense is not doing well.

That's kind of what I mean. I don't think seeing that style of game would bode well, honestly.

Consistency is hard to do in the NFL but if GB can protect J. Love and pressure Mahomes, I like our chance.

The Chiefs have a ton of sacks this year. I think it's something like 37. Protecting Love will be paramount.

Need to see a few more laser throws instead of "lofted throws".

He's been developing a nice touch on throws that require it. I think sometimes people don't realize how hard he throws some of those quick outs to the sideline. They aren't "wow" throws down the middle of the field, but he gets the ball to the boundary quickly when he has to.

I have gotten to know Lauren who used to work with Larry and then was on Chicago TV sports. She had some fun stories about Larry and his finger and his grumpiness at times. Tell Larry she said hi.

Will do. Say hi to Lauren from all of us here.

How many sacks will Rashan Gary earn this season?

I think a dozen is within reach. Won't be easy, but doable.

Only thing I would like to see from Love is some more clutch game winning drives , but I also remember it took Rodgers a couple years to master that.


The focus has been on the offense. I still watch a game never knowing which defense is going to show up. It would be nice to be able to have a more consistent play. What are your thoughts to making that happen?

I think that's been the million dollar question with this defense for several years now. Consistency is tough to achieve, but the unit has had major up and down swings, and those have to get smoothed out. If I knew the answer, I'd have a different job. This defense plays really solid football for stretches, and then things get out of whack for a while again. Opposing offenses have something to do with that, making adjustments and executing better themselves. But I don't think I'm wrong to suggest the ups and downs are more pronounced with this defense than many others. Hopefully they can continue stringing solid performances together. All that said, if the offense had done its part in a couple of instances in the first half of the season, this team's record would be better than 5-6. The defense gave them a chance to win multiple games they didn't.

Thanks for the chat, the blog, II, and all other content. See you soon.

Thanks to everyone for the participation. I've got to run to practice. Take care and I'll be here on the live blog Sunday night, and back again for another chat next week. Take care, all the best. --Mike