The Chiefs gave the Packers all they could handle even without Patrick Mahomes on Sunday night, which should serve as a warning to the Vikings that winning at Arrowhead Stadium will be difficult no matter what when Kansas City hosts Minnesota at noon this coming Sunday.
Suffering a dislocated kneecap 11 days ago, the original timeline for Mahomes to return to the field was 3-6 weeks. But the star quarterback told NBC reporter Michelle Tafoya that had Sunday's game against Green Bay been a playoff game, he would've played.
So what's Mahomes' status for this week's contest with Minnesota? It's undetermined as of Monday, but as Pro Football Talk points out, the game could be as close to a playoff game as it gets at this point in the season. Will it force KC's hand?
"A loss tonight to the Packers would drop the Chiefs to 5-3, behind the 5-2 Ravens and the 5-3 Colts (who hold the tiebreaker) for the second seed in the AFC. Next week, in a game that could run Kansas City’s home losing streak to four, maybe Mahomes gets his way and forces his way onto the field, replacing Matt Moore."
Effectively, the Packers not only maintained a one-game lead on the Vikings in the NFC North by beating the Mahomes-less Chiefs, but they also may have stuck it to the Vikings by putting the Chiefs in a position where Mahomes returns from injury rather than sitting out one extra week.
Still, Mahomes returning this week is not a sure thing. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Mahomes "has an outside chance" to play against Minnesota.
"Mahomes is said to feel great right now, as if he can go play. In reality, how quick he'd be on the field will be determined in part by not how he feels, but how the knee has scarred up and will protect him," Rapoport wrote.
If Mahomes plays the Vikings will really have their hands full against an explosive offense. If Mahomes is out, Mike Zimmer's defense will go up against NFL journeyman Matt Moore, threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns.