The Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers have been enjoying a well-deserved week off, thanks to clinching the top spots in their respective conferences. This weekend, the Chiefs will watch as the Ravens and Titans vie for the chance to face the defending Super Bowl champions next week.
Meanwhile, the Packers will have a close eye on the game between Washington and Tampa Bay, which will determine their second-round opponent. Sure, a week off always helps, but how exactly will the Chiefs and Packers benefit from extra rest? We’ll take a look at that below.
Kansas City Chiefs
Over the course of the 2020 NFL season, no team benefitted from a rest advantage more than the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs won all four games in which they had more rest than their opponents this season, by 4.8 points on average, and though they were able to cover just one of four NFL spreads in those games. Safe to say, this will be a familiar spot for Kansas City.
Injury-wise, the Chiefs were dealing with a handful of players on the COVID-19 reserve list, most recently linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who was forced to miss the Chiefs’ season finale against the Chargers. Fellow linebacker Willie Gay (ankle) and corner Rashad Fenton (ankles) were also injured in Kansas City’s Week 17 loss. The extra week of rest means it’s quite likely all three players are able to suit up against either the Ravens or Titans, and that will be important considering the depth they give the team at both positions.
The status of rookie defensive end Mike Danna is less clear, considering they had to place him on the COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday, but in theory, he should be a candidate to play thanks to the extra week, too.
So, while the Chiefs have played well in this position all season long, and have the benefit of healing up and activating some of their key depth pieces on defense, the Ravens and Titans will be locked in a dogfight on Saturday. Both teams are in the top three in run play percentage — no one runs more running plays than the Ravens at 55.8%, while 50.3% of Tennessee’s plays are of the rushing variety.
This means we’re going to see plenty of battles in the trenches, likely some banged up linemen, and some very, very tired legs up front on both sides. This should be ripe for Kansas City to exploit next week.
Green Bay Packers
While the Chiefs were an untouchable 4-0 with a rest advantage this season, the Packers were an impressive 4-1. They won their games by an average margin of 4.6 points and covered the spread with the best betting sites in three of those wins as well. They’ll be happy to see themselves in this winning scenario once again, and considering they couldn’t rest their starters in Week 17 as the Chiefs did, the Packers are thanking their lucky stars for a chance to relax and breathe.
Unfortunately for the Packers, the bye week won’t get them back impact offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, who was lost for the season with a knee injury just over a week ago. It will give guard Simon Stepaniak and defensive tackle Kingsley Keke a chance to heal their injuries and be at 100% next week.
Their offense should look a bit sprier as well. Pass-catchers Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown, Marcedes Lewis, and running back Jamaal Williams all popped up on the injury report prior to Week 17. So, it would appear that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ ninth-ranked passing offense would stand to benefit from the rest.
Tampa Bay, Green Bay’s presumable opponent, has one of its key players in Mike Evans, as well as corner Carlton Davis, dealing with an injury. So it will certainly not help that they’ll have to play through the pain on Saturday, then turn right back around, and head to Lambeau next week. At home, Green Bay lost just once this year.
Ronald Jones II, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh also popped up on the injury report but will play, for what it’s worth. So it’s possible they’re less than 100% too, and Rodgers will face just a bit less pressure while the Tampa rushing attack operates at limited strength.