The Kansas City Chiefs travel to historic Lambeau Field this weekend for a prime-time battle against the Green Bay Packers.
Here are five things to keep in mind heading into game day.
1. Here's a look at the final injury report for both teams.
The Chiefs are in good shape injury-wise heading into Sunday's game as every member of the active roster participated in Friday's practice. Only tailback Jerick McKinnon (groin), who is listed as "Questionable" for the game, carries an injury designation into Sunday among players on the active roster.
Linebacker Nick Bolton, who remains on Injured Reserve due to a wrist injury suffered in Week 7, also began practicing this week. Bolton won't be activated prior to Sunday's game, but he appears to be making progress in his return to the field.
As for the Packers, starting tailback Aaron Jones will miss his second-straight game due to a knee injury. Green Bay also listed eight players as "Questionable," including starting cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder), starting linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (neck), starting safety Rudy Ford (biceps/groin), and rookie wide receivers Jayden Reed (chest) and Dontayvion Wicks (knee).
Reed is the Packers' leading receiver this season with 497 yards through the air. Wicks has also proven dangerous, averaging 16.6 yards-per-catch. Defensively, Campbell missed last week's game vs. Detroit due to his neck injury, while Alexander hasn't played since Week 8 and Ford hasn't played since Week 9. It's possible that the Packers' defense could be getting all three players back for Sunday. Safety Darnell Savage, who started each of the Packers' first six games before heading to Injured Reserve with a calf injury, is also listed as "Questionable" for Sunday.
2. Can rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice stack another strong performance?
Rice compiled the best game of his young career last week, catching eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Four of his eight receptions picked up a fresh set of downs, and two of those catches took place on third down. The rookie wide receiver now has 44 catches for 527 yards and five touchdowns – the third-most among all rookies – and according to Pro Football Focus' metrics, only the Rams' Puka Nacua and the Texans' Tank Dell have earned higher grades among rookie wide outs.
It's all to say that Rice has been a solid contributor as a rookie, and following a game in which he rewarded the coaching staff for playing him on 67 percent of the Chiefs' offensive snaps – his second-highest usage rate of the season – the challenge now is for Rice to stack it with another strong game.
The Packers have been one of the league's better defenses against the pass this year, holding opponents to just over 200 passing yards-per-game on average. They've also yielded just 15 passing plays of 25 or more yards, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Green Bay has largely struggled on third down, however, surrendering conversions at a 40 percent clip. Rice was excellent on third down last week, and his ability to do the same on Sunday could prove critical.
3. Packers' edge rusher Rashan Gary has four sacks in his last two games.
Gary has been right in the middle of the Packers' mid-season resurgence of late, racking up four sacks in his last two games. Gary now has 8.5 sacks on the year, accounting for 33 percent of the Packers' team sack total all by himself.
Defensive lineman Kenny Clark has also been productive lately, recording a team-leading 17 pressures over the Packers' last four games, and rookie defensive lineman Karl Brooks is coming off his best game as a professional in which he recorded five pressures vs. Detroit.
The Chiefs have allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL this year with just 14, including only one last week. It sets up a strong matchup between one of the league's best offensive lines and a pass-rush that seems to be heating up at the right time.
It will also be interesting to see how often the Packers elect to blitz Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Sunday. Green Bay has blitzed this season at the eighth-highest frequency in the NFL, doing so 31.2 percent of the time. For context, the Chiefs – whose defense has earned a reputation for its tendency to blitz – have done so at a 34.4 percent clip this year.
Mahomes has been blitzed on more than 10 occasions in a single game just five times this year, and on those dropbacks, he has completed 75 percent of his passes for 439 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. Green Bay has blitzed opposing quarterbacks 10 or more times in seven of its 11 games, including a tally of 17 blitzes last week.
4. Quarterback Jordan Love seems to have found a groove in recent weeks.
Love is in the midst of his best stretch of football as a professional, throwing eight touchdowns to only two interceptions over the Packers' last four games. His completion percentage (65.2% to 57.7%), yards-per-attempt average (8.02 to 6.38) and passer rating (103.1 to 78.2) are also all significantly improved during that stretch when compared to his first seven games of the season.
One area in which Love has shown growth of late is his performance under pressure. From Week 1 through Week 8, Pro Football Focus graded Love as the league's fourth-worst passer while under pressure among quarterbacks with 150+ dropbacks. He was under pressure on 33 percent of his dropbacks during that time, completing 48 percent of his passes for one touchdown and two interceptions while averaging 3.7 yards-per-attempt.
Since Week 9, however, Love has been Pro Football Focus' fourth-best passer when pressured among quarterbacks with 100+ dropbacks. In those situations, he has completed 52 percent of his throws for two touchdowns and one interception while averaging a whopping 10 yards-per-attempt.
In simple terms, Love has thrown the ball further downfield – and done so with success – when in the face of pressure over his last four games. It's no coincidence that the Packers are 3-1 in those matchups.
5. Tailback Isiah Pacheco is a player to watch on Sunday night.
The Packers own the No. 10 scoring defense in the NFL, but it's worth mentioning that they're allowing 135.2 rushing yards-per-game on average – the sixth-highest mark in the league. In fact, Green Bay has surrendered at least 140 yards on the ground in six of its 11 games. Only Cincinnati has more such games (7). That trend has persisted even during the Packers' recent resurgence, too, as Green Bay allowed 150 rushing yards to the Chargers in Week 11 and 140 rushing yards to Detroit last week.
With all of that in mind, Sunday's game could be an opportunity for running back Isiah Pacheco to stack another strong performance. Pacheco tallied 89 yards from scrimmage (including 55 rushing yards) and two touchdowns last week against Las Vegas, establishing a physicality that seemed to keep the Raiders' defense off balance throughout the latter portion of the game.
Pacheco now has 669 rushing yards on the season – the 11th-most in the NFL – and his performance on Sunday could be the difference in the end.
Catch the Chiefs and Packers on Sunday night at 7:20 p.m. CT on NBC.