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Brett Favre has beaten every NFL team but one in his illustrious career for the Green Bay Packers. To complete the list and knock off the Kansas City Chiefs, he may need to rely as heavily as ever on his arm.
Favre tries to keep the Packers flying high when they visit Kansas City on Sunday for the first time in 11 years.
Favre is 0-3 against Kansas City, including a 27-20 loss in 1996 - the team’s last visit to Arrowhead Stadium. Already lacking a consistent running game this season, the Packers won’t have the services of starting running back DeShawn Wynn as Favre tries to finally get a win against the Chiefs.
Wynn was hurt in Green Bay’s 19-13 overtime victory over Denver on Monday night, suffering a significant shoulder injury that will end his season. Ryan Grant, who rushed for 104 yards in Wynn’s place, has been named the starter.
“Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. I think you look at DeShawn Wynn, and I’m very pleased for what he’s accomplished in the short time he’s been here,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who was Kansas City’s quarterbacks coach the last time Green Bay played at Arrowhead Stadium. “He’s a seventh-round pick. He had to fight like hell at the end of training camp (to make the team). Heck, he was our starting running back at one point.
“I’m very happy with the way Ryan took advantage of his opportunity, and he will be in the No. 1 slot when we go to Kansas City.”
Even with Wynn, the Packers (6-1) weren’t running the ball much. Green Bay is last in the NFL in rushing at 71.3 yards per game.
Instead, Green Bay has used short passes and the occasional deep ball to get off to their best start since 2002, and Favre is playing like he did when he won three straight MVP awards from 1995-97.
“You are not going to stop Brett Favre. He’s going to complete his passes,” said Chiefs coach Herman Edwards, who was on the same staff with McCarthy in Kansas City under Marty Schottenheimer in the mid-1990s.
“He has put a lot into the NFL and the way he’s playing right now is fun to watch.”
Favre is averaging 292.3 yards per game, second in the NFL, and is on pace for his best quarterback rating since 2001. His 82-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings on the first play of overtime Monday gave Green Bay 10 wins in its last 11 games.
With Grant having productive performances like he did Monday night, the Packers can utilize more play-action, which led to both touchdowns against Denver.
“Play-action is kind of nonexistent when you’re not running the ball,” said Favre, who completed 21 of 27 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos.
“So both were down-the-field throws, but they came off play-action. You don’t call those play-actions if you’re not running the ball effectively.”
The Packers, winners of five straight on the road, have used the leadership of Favre and a strong, young defense to grab a share of the NFC’s best record along with Dallas.
Neither Favre nor the Packers, though, have had the best of luck against the Chiefs (4-3). Favre has five touchdowns and five interceptions with a 77.0 passer rating in his three defeats to Kansas City - in 1993, 1996 and 2003 - and the Packers have lost five straight overall to the Chiefs, their longest active losing streak to one team.
Four years ago, Kansas City rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit - the biggest comeback in team history - to beat Green Bay 40-34 in overtime and improve to 6-0. This season, the Chiefs are also in first place in the AFC West, tied with San Diego, and have been one of the surprises of the league.
After starting 0-2 and looking resigned to a rough year, Kansas City has reversed course, as an active defense has lifted the Chiefs to four wins in their last five games.
The Chiefs, coming off a bye week, are even with the Chargers despite being outscored 113-102 on the season.
Jared Allen leads the AFC with eight sacks in just five games, and Kansas City ranks sixth in the NFL with 21 sacks. The team has forced 15 turnovers and the defense is the best in the NFL inside the red zone, allowing touchdowns only 26.7 percent of the time.
Allen has been perhaps the biggest reason for that. After a two-game suspension to start the year because of multiple DUI convictions, his return has coincided with the Chiefs’ 4-1 stretch.
“It isn’t just the pass rush,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. “His play has also been outstanding against the run. He’s finally gotten to the point where he’s not always worried about the sack. He used to be undisciplined. But now he’s playing great in all phases.”
After a slow start following his preseason holdout, Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson has recorded back-to-back 100-yard games. Receiver Dwayne Bowe, meanwhile, leads all rookies with 29 catches and 499 yards. Green Bay’s James Jones is first in the NFC among first-year players with 26 catches and 400 yards.
“I think that there are a lot of young guys who are improving; a lot of young guys and that’s good,” Edwards said. “The thing that I think I like the most about us is that we have tremendous will on this football team. We continue to play.”
Kansas City is 21-4 at home against the NFC since 1995, best in the league. The Chiefs hold a 6-1-1 edge in the regular season series with Green Bay.