STAR PREVIEW Sun: Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers

ANDY RICHMOND is a lifelong punter and sports enthusiast who now writes extensively on horse racing and the NFL. His CV includes long spells on Timeform Radio and Racing UK having previously held several positions at the then-fledgling Betfair Exchange where he worked for six years. He has a particular love for the statistical and analytical side of sports which fits in well with the NFL. He writes all the NFL content on Paul Jones subscription service as well as having his own betting advisory service.

Up until Thursday the narrative surrounding this game was all about Mahomes versus Rodgers as two of the most pre-eminent quarterbacks in the NFL prepared to face each other. That all changed when Rodgers tested positive for Covid-19, created a media/social media storm about his vaccination status and the line flipped from a near pick ‘em to a Chiefs team that has been struggling this year being favoured by a touchdown and more in places.

Of course amid this backdrop it now gives the Packers who are coming off a big win on the road against the previously unbeaten Cardinals and their best defensive performance of the year a chance to look at their supposed quarterback of the future Jordan Love. Football-wise, it’s the perfect storm for the Packers. They get a look at their future (Love) without a major injury to their present (Rodgers), with a huge cushion in the NFC North, against a non-conference opponent with a subpar defence but life in the NFL is never that simple.

Love couldn’t ask for a better landing spot to make his NFL debut as a starting quarterback. Green Bay have had 10 days to get ready for this game, while Kansas City are operating on a short week following its Monday night win over the Giants. You can’t escape the fact that the Chiefs defence has been awful this season and Love will have a full deck of receivers and backs to work with and his wideouts include Davante Adams who is certainly one of the best receivers in the NFL. Adams is almost match up proof and averaging 11 targets, 7.8 catches, 114.7 yards in his last six games whilst we must acknowledge that was with Rodgers throwing him the ball.

The returning Allen Lazard and deep-threat receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling should also be part of the Packers receiving mix and with the Chiefs allowing the league’s eighth-most 20-plus yard completions (31) and NFL-most 11 pass plays of 40-plus yards MVS is clearly a player who could cause some damage if the Packers allow Love to throw deep.

Of course it may well be even against a defence as porous as the Chiefs that the Packers chose to rely on their ground game which has a nice 1-2 punch via Aaron Jones and the emerging talent that is A.J. Dillon. Jones visits K.C. averaging 18.6 touches, 96.9 yards, and a touchdown per game over the past seven weeks and he’s also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver a facet of the game that the Chiefs are particularly vulnerable to. Dillion appears to be getting plenty of work on the ground and any rushing yards lines pitched around 35.5-37.5 I can see him exceeding.

There is no doubt that the Chiefs offence isn’t operating at its optimum this year they have often looked out of sync and have been plagued by turnovers but after a very methodical performance against the Giants on Monday night when they put up just 20 points Mahomes faces a Green Bay defence that until last week had been far from watertight. The Packers have so far allowed the NFL’s sixth-most passing TDs (17) and it’s not as though the Chiefs are totally broken on offence. Their running game appears to be hedging towards a committee decision with Darrel Williams still the lead back but his position could be under threat.

The Packers will once again be without top cornerback Jaire Alexander and that enhances the chances of Tyreek Hill having a big game. Hill has still managed to put up big numbers and since Week 3 has averaged nine catches, 100 total yards, and a TD per game; Hill is always liable to be on the end of a Mahomes bomb. Apart from Hill and tight-end Travis Kelce the Chiefs have plenty of other receivers that they can throw into the rotation and I believe they will go pass-heavy at an up-tempo rate in this game in a bid to gain some momentum and show that they are still a force to be reckoned with at least on that side of the ball.

With Love in at quarterback for the Packers the game is a difficult one to have a definitive view on as we don’t know how much “rope” head coach Matt LeFleur will give Love or if the first-time starter will handle the pressure in one of the NFL’s most intimidating environments, Arrowhead Stadium. On the Chiefs side of the coin it can’t be ignored that their offence has been stuttering although I have a feeling it could be about to spring into life.

To that end we can risk a small play on two more than capable offences outplaying two moderate defences and hope for an entertaining game with two equally modest plays in the anytime touchdown market on the mobile Mahomes and underrated Lazard.

BACK Over 49.5 match points 1pt at 21/20 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Patrick Mahomes to score a TD 1pts at 7/2 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Allen Lazard to score a TD 1pt at 4/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (NOVEMBER 2021): LOSS -13.48 points
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