The Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers are both in familiar positions after the first two weeks of the season. The Chiefs are hovering at .500 and still chasing the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Meanwhile, the Packers are 2-0, looking like Super Bowl contenders and are a heavy favorite to capture their fifth straight division title. They'll face off in a primetime battle at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football to cap off the third week of the 2015 NFL season.
The Chiefs nearly knocked off the Broncos last Thursday night, but a couple of late miscues led to a heartbreaking loss. Kansas City allowed two touchdowns in the final minute, letting a seven-point lead slip away. Once again, the Chiefs were forced to watch Denver escape Arrowhead with the win. Kansas City fell to 1-1 with the loss and now faces an uphill battle in trying to overtake the Broncos in the division race.
Green Bay is coming off an emotional win over the Seattle Seahawks, one that exorcised some demons and gave them a little shot of revenge for their epic collapse in the NFC Championship last January. The victory was impressive on many fronts.
First, they proved that they could beat a formidable opponent without their All-Pro wide receiver Jordy Nelson. They also showed that they have arguably the deepest roster in the league by overcoming injuries to Davante Adams and Eddie Lacy, who both suffered sprained ankles. And their defense also showed promise, holding the Seahawks scoreless in the fourth quarter and limiting running back Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on 15 carries. The result was a statement-making win and the Packers' first 2-0 start since 2011.
The Chiefs and Packers don't have a long history of playing each other -- this will be just the 12th game in the series -- but their first matchup is one of the most important games in NFL history. On Jan. 15, 1967, the Chiefs and Packers faced off in the first ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game -- which is now more famously called the Super Bowl -- at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The Packers took a 14-10 lead into halftime and then broke the game open with three second-half touchdowns en route to a 35-10 win.
Nearly 50 years later these two franchises will rekindle their rivalry in the primetime spotlight on Monday night.
There are few places more intimidating to play in the NFL than Lambeau Field, where the Packers have the biggest home-field advantage of any team in the league. They've won 10 straight in Green Bay (including playoffs), the longest active home win streak, and are averaging a ridiculous 37 points per game during the streak. They've scored at least 25 points in each game, and six of the wins have come by double digits, including four with a margin of 20-plus points.
No quarterback enjoys playing in his home stadium more than Aaron Rodgers. He's thrown 545 consecutive passes and 43 touchdowns without an interception at home (including playoffs), the longest streak in NFL history. The last time he was picked off at Lambeau was Dec. 2, 2012 against the Vikings, when Harrison Smith grabbed a deep pass intended for Greg Jennings. The Chiefs' secondary got picked apart by Peyton Manning in the second half last Thursday, and will need a much better effort on this week if they're going to contain the best the quarterback in the NFL.
Despite the loss in Week 2, Kansas City is still probably the biggest threat to the Broncos in the AFC West. They could be the most complete team in the division, featuring an aggressive, play-making defense and a strong running game that allows them to grind out wins. Through two weeks, only one team has more sacks than the Chiefs (eight), and only four teams have allowed fewer yards per play (4.9). Since the start of last season, the Chiefs rank fifth in yards per rush and have scored 20 touchdowns on the ground, tied for the second-most in the league.
If there is one concern for the Chiefs moving forward, it might be the turnover problems that continue to plague Jamaal Charles. No running back has lost more fumbles than Charles (10) since 2012, including two costly ones in the loss to the Broncos -- one in the red zone early in the game, the other deep in his own territory late in the game that was returned for the winning touchdown. The Chiefs cannot afford to be giving the ball away, especially against such a strong team like the Packers.
Who to Watch
Marcus Peters - If there is one player who has a chance to break Rodgers' streak, it is the rookie cornerback, who has been one of the more impressive players at any position through two weeks. Just two games into his NFL career, he is proving that he already belongs among the NFL's best ballhawks, with a league-leading seven passes defended and two interceptions. Peters is not yet a true shutdown corner -- Pro Football Focus has him getting burned for 177 yards on 14 catches, including three touchdowns -- but there is still plenty of time for him to develop into an all-around elite defensive back.
Don Barclay - Entering this season, Barclay was supposed to be a depth piece on the Packers' offensive line. But he's now starting in place of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is expected to miss four to six weeks after spraining his MCL. Barclay really struggled to cope with the physicality of the Seahawks edge rushers last week. Although he wasn't charged with giving up a sack, he allowed 10 pressures, which was by far the most of any lineman in Week 2. He is going to have his hands full once again on Monday night, trying to contain the Chiefs' dynamic pass-rushing duo of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
How to Watch
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisc.
Commentators: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Green Bay is a near-unanimous choice among the experts to add another win and improve to 3-0 this season. All eight of the guys at CBS Sports are going with the Packers, as are the 13 experts at ESPN. Meanwhile, seven of the eight members of our esteemed panel at SB Nation are also taking Green Bay. Good luck to Stephen White, the lone Chiefs backer.
The Packers are 7.5-point favorites with an over/under of 49, according to OddsShark.com.
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