The participants of the first-ever Super Bowl reunite in the final game of the preseason. The Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs are both Super Bowl contenders in 2016. This game will be little more than a showcase for their reserves. Both squads are veteran-led with outstanding core skill talent and solid defenses.
What: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, September 1, 8 p.m. ET, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO.
Last Week/Next Week
The Kansas City Chiefs won for the first time in the 2016 preseason by stifling the Chicago Bears 23-7. The Bears didn’t get on the board until just 5-1/2 minutes remained in the game. Winners of 10 straight games to end the 2015 regular season, the Chiefs start their 2016 regular season campaign at home against the San Diego Chargers at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 11. The Green Bay Packers improved to 3-0 in the preseason by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 21-10 last week. Green Bay will open its 2016 regular season at the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, September 11 at 1 p.m. ET.
Kansas City Chiefs Preview
The Chiefs’ defense suffered a blow Tuesday when it was announced that linebacker Justin Houston will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Fellow starting linebacker Josh Mauga will go on the IR following hip surgery. Houston had ACL surgery in February. Tuesday was the first time Houston has been at a practice this training camp season. He worked with a trainer on the side but did not compete in any drills. Tamba Hali, Frank Zombo, and Dee Ford are all getting reps with the first team linebackers.
Some good news on the ACL front for the Chiefs comes from cornerback Phillip Gaines. Gaines missed most of 2015 and the first two preseason games of this year. He returned to play 11 snaps against the Chicago Bears.
“I thought Phillip was good, and in talking with him I think he felt the same way,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “Sometimes you see something but you can’t get your body to do it exactly how you want. I think he’s become more and more comfortable with that. I’m really not talking about confidence from the injury and all that, but his reaction time.”
The injury front is not as rosy for running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Tamba Hali. Charles is nearly 10 months removed from his surgery. Hali had his at the end of the year. Neither is going to be available Thursday night, and neither is likely to be there for Week One either. The Chiefs won a ton of games without Charles last year, but the chance of that happening two years in a row sees quite unlikely.
Green Bay Packers Preview
The Green Bay Packers spent Tuesday wheeling and dealing on their way down to Thursday’s mandatory 53-man roster cuts. They claimed Jacob Schum off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday. That allowed them to cut Tim Masthay. Schum was the Bucs’ punter in all 16 games last year, averaging 41.9 yards per boot last year. Masthay’s salary was likely the reason for his departure – he would have made $1.54 million this season.
The Packers traded linebacker Lerentee McCray to the Buffalo Bills for a 2018 draft pick.McCray was a free-agent signee a year ago. The Bills had a need when rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland went down with a torn ACL.
The Packers put together a command performance in their win over San Francisco. They rushed the ball 39 times for 148 yards, controlling the clock in their 21-10 win over the 49ers. Even better than their rush offense was their pass defense. The 49ers staggered to just 61 yards on 9 of 20 passes. The Packers sacked 49er quarterbacks three times for 21 yards and Marwin Evans had a six-yard interception return.
Aaron Rodgers made his first appearance of the preseason, completing 6 of 9 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Even more impressive was Eddie Lacy’s seven carries for 45 yards. Lacy having a successful year is enormous if the Packers are going to make a deep run into the playoffs. As great as Rodgers is, a one-dimensional offense cannot succeed long term in the NFL.
Lacy averaged 1,158 yards and 10 touchdowns per season over his first two seasons. He dropped off dramatically in 2015. His carries dropped by almost 70 and his yards by close to 400. His touchdowns dropped from nine down to three.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers Predictions
Neither team is going to risk any starters in this game, particularly given how beat up the Chiefs are. This will be a tryout for special teamers and practice squad members as much as anything.
Score Prediction: Green Bay Packers 22, Kansas City Chiefs 17