FOXBORO, Mass. — The Kansas City Chiefs have been lighting up the NFL this season, leading the league in points per game (36.2), while ranking in the top five in both yards per game (425.2) and passing yards per game (310.4).
Despite those gaudy numbers, the Chiefs, who scored 40 points on the New England Patriots in Week 6, won’t be the toughest challenge New England’s defense faces this year.
That comes Sunday against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, according to linebackers coach Brian Flores.
“Um, where do I start?” Flores said Wednesday before practice when asked about Rodgers. “You know, great command of the offense. This is as big a challenge that we’ve had since I’ve been here, which is a long time now. He’s an incredible leader, tough. You see him get carted off in the Chicago game, come back and bring them back from 20 points down. You know, they are never out of the game with him leading the charge.
“It’s an incredible challenge for us. We’re going to have our hands full for sure. It’s not just Aaron Rodgers, you know, their entire group: the O-Line, backs and tight ends, you know, everybody makes plays on this offense. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, we’re going to have to be at the top of our game. ”
While the Packers don’t have the number of playmakers Kansas City possesses, Green Bay’s offense has been no slouch this season.
The Rodgers-led offense ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per game (412.1) and passing yards per game (308.1) while putting up 25 points per contest, which is good for 13th in the league. The only teams New England has played this season that rank ahead of the Packers in points per game are the Chiefs and Chicago Bears, who rank first and ninth, respectively. Both eclipsed their season average when they played the Patriots.
Green Bay’s success Sunday at Gillette Stadium will, obviously, be tied to whether or not the Patriots can contain one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. The 34-year-old Rodgers has had a phenomenal 2018 campaign, despite being hobbled by a knee injury suffered Week 1 against the Bears. Rodgers has thrown for 2,283 yards, 13 touchdowns and only one interception on the season.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick only has faced Rodgers once, a 26-21 win for Green Bay in 2014, but he remembers it well and the challenges the Cal product presents.
“He killed us the last time we played him,” Belichick told reporters Wednesday. “I mean he’s a great player, he does everything well. Reads coverages well, very accurate throwing the ball. Got great touch down the field, short, intermediate, they get a lot of catch and run plays and a lot of that is because of his great accuracy. He puts the ball right on his receiver, doesn’t have to break stride, can just keep running with it. Very mobile in the pocket extends plays, really good vision down the field, uses the cadence well, is a good situational player. One of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League, no doubt about it.”