Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers Predictions: Will We See Vintage Patrick Mahomes?

Chiefs vs. Packers best bet and prediction for Sunday afternoon. NFL handicapper Ben Gretch breaks down the game and how he's betting it.
Ben Gretch
Sat, November 6, 12:13 PM EDT

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers Predictions: Will We See Vintage Patrick Mahomes?

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers Key Stat

Per NFL’s NextGen Stats, Patrick Mahomes is averaging 7.6 air yards per pass. Entering 2021, his previous career-low in three years as a full-time starter was 8.5.

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Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers Game Preview

The Packers head to Kansas City after a whirlwind week that has centered on Aaron Rodgers for off-the-field reasons, as he’ll be out on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That means Jordan Love will make his first NFL start, and Love does draw a solid matchup against a beatable Kansas City defense, but he’s also thrown just seven regular-season passes.

Since there was no preseason in 2020, the former first-round pick also has limited preseason reps, having played in just two preseason games (he missed one of the three this year). He was reasonably productive across those two games, completing 68.6% of his passes (24 for 35) for 271 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That’s, of course, a limited sample, and the other information we have is less-than-glowing practice reports and seemingly very real concern from the team that Rodgers’ extended offseason holdout might force Love into a starting role this year. Perhaps that was blown out of proportion, and Love could be anywhere from terrible to surprisingly good this weekend. The best bet is probably that he will have some struggles.

The Packers are also coming off a game where they played without Davante Adams and featured the running backs in a win in Arizona. Aaron Jones rushed for 59 yards and a score while adding seven catches for 51 yards in the passing game, but we know what he can do. AJ Dillon’s 16 carries for 78 yards were perhaps more notable in trying to understand how Green Bay may approach this game, in that his increase in rushes and success with that opportunity might make them more willing to lean on their 1-2 punch in the backfield. The way NFL teams approach things and gameplan often has an ebb and flow to it through a season, and the Packers right now have to feel comfortable with their backfield at a time when you’d typically see any team make that a focal point in a young quarterback’s first start.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs are trying to navigate some offensive shifts of their own. Seeing almost exclusively two-deep shells from opposing secondaries to take away their deep passing game, and with Travis Kelce hurting, the Chiefs have had some offensive struggles as they try to piece together drives rather than rely on the big play. Last week, Tyreek Hill saw a whopping 18 targets but totaled just 94 yards on 12 catches — his 5.2 yards per target were the fifth-lowest figure in his career in games where he saw double-digit targets and was indicative of the underneath nature of how the Chiefs were forced to use him.

Green Bay has a history of sitting back and asking teams to beat them with the ground game, something almost every team is trying to do to Kansas City right now. Without Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs have responded first with Darrel Williams but last week with former UDFA Derrick Gore, who rushed 11 times for 48 yards and a score. It’s wild in a high-flying offense with Patrick Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce that players like Williams and Gore could be focal points, but that’s exactly why they are seeing the defensive looks they are.

I still have plenty of long-term faith in the Chiefs to figure out their current offensive struggles, but right now, they are working through things on that side of the ball. If they are able to control this game against Love and the Packers, as the line suggests, Kansas City has some incentive to establish a running game and get that on film; if they aren’t able to control the game, it’ll probably be because they are still struggling to put up points more so than the Packers matching them blow for blow.

There’s a lot of uncertainty here because it definitely feels like the Chiefs could explode any week, and also because we don’t really know what Love will bring the Packers, but I’m on the under here as the best bet.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers Pick

Ben Gretch
@YardsPerGretch
Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.
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