Sunday did not feature a Green Bay Packers game, but the rest of the NFC North all had games.
The Packers (2-0) will stay at home to face the Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) on Monday Night Football. With a win, the Packers can continue enjoying the top spot in the NFC North. A loss would put them in a tie with the Minnesota Vikings (2-1).
Here are the keys to the game.
Limit Jamaal Charles to under 100 yards: Charles is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and Kansas City will give him the ball plenty of times if they can get him going. Green Bay did an excellent job containing Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch in Week 2 (15 carries for 41 yards), but allowed Chicago’s Matt Forte to run for 141 yards in Week 1.
The Packers will want to bring a safety down to help limit Charles to short gains. Veteran safety Morgan Burnett has already been ruled out, so he won’t be out there to help. Taking over for Burnett will be Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo.
The linebackers will have to step up to help keep Charles below 100 yards. Veterans Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers will need some assistance from younger players like Nate Palmer and Nick Perry.
Win the turnover battle: Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith does not throw many interceptions. In the last four years, Smith has thrown just 6, 7, 5 and 5 interceptions respectively. To win this turnover battle, the Packers will need to pressure Smith into throwing the ball before he wants to. Just like Smith, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers does not throw many interceptions. If he sticks to that trend, this could be a turnover-free game, but the Packers hope they can at least pick off a pass or recover a fumble or two.
Play better on special teams: The Packers don’t want to give the Chiefs a short field, so that means the punting and kickoff teams will need to make tackles quickly. Packers’ punter Tim Masthay is kicking the ball much better in 2015, averaging 47.2 yards (36.6 net) in five punts. The Packers have only allowed 33 punt return yards. On kickoffs, kicker Mason Crosby has six touchbacks and the Packers have limited the returns to an average of 20.3 yards per return with a long of just 26. If the kicking game keeps this up, the Packers will continue to win the field possession battle.
Spread the ball around: If the Packers are too predictable on offense, the talented linebackers of the Chiefs will adjust quickly. A nice mix of run and pass should allow the Packers to move the ball down the field. Since running back Eddie Lacy is recovering from an ankle injury, the Packers will likely involve backup James Starks and perhaps pass the ball even more than usual.