Any Given Sunday

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers It wasn’t as easy as most thought it would be, but the Green Bay Packers outlasted the Minnesota Vikings 24-21 in a tough, grit it out game.

Some fans may be upset that the Packers didn’t score their usual 50+ but there are a few reasons why I really like this victory.

First, this game was definitely a character win.

Things were not going the Packers way for most of the game. Whether it was good defensive play from the Vikings or frustrating officiating, the Packers were not moving the ball as well as they were used to.

The Vikings corners were playing physical and got away with a few penalties early on forcing the Packers to punt on three of their first four drives.

However, in the end, the Pack still grinded out a victory and quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished with quarterback rating of 109.7 and continued his streak of efficient games. His touchdown to interception ratio on the season is now 10:1.

This game was also the definition of a trap game.

With the New England Patriots scheduled to come to Lambeau next week, the Packers could have easily been caught looking ahead. Also based on how well they had been playing, a 4-6 Vikings team didn’t seem like much of a threat.

The phrase “Any Given Sunday” just rings more true each week.

Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers were throwing six touchdowns each week and then lost to the 1-8 New York Jets? The winless Oakland Raiders just beat the 7-3 Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday.

This is the NFL and there is no such thing as an easy game. If you don’t get up to play each week, you’re going to get beat.

Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers Finally, I guess my favorite takeaway from this game, was the play of the offensive line and running back Eddie Lacy.

The Packers didn’t win in their usual style by passing the ball all over the field, but instead, they relied mostly on the running game.

Lacy rushed for 125 yards and a score, and added another score in the passing game. His two top games this season have come against the Vikings, and they are also his only two 100 yard rushing performances, but there is more to Lacy this season than just his rushing ability.

Lacy has 27 receptions on the season totaling 322 yards. His addition to the passing game has given Rodgers just another threat to go along with pass catchers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davonte Adams, Andrew Quarless, and Richard Rodgers.

The Packers head back to Lambeau next week in what looks like the game of the year and a Super Bowl preview. The Patriots are on a seven game win streak, while the Packers have won seven of their last eight. It is truly a clash of NFL giants and will no doubt determine which team is the best in the NFL… for now.

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Blowout City: Rodgers Best in the League?

Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay PackersFor the first time in franchise history, the Green Bay Packers have scored 50+ points in back to back games.

The Packers demolished the Philadelphia Eagles 53-20 on Sunday and won by executing on all three aspects of the game. They scored on offense, defense and special teams which led them to another blowout victory.

The Packers have outscored their opponents 219-85 at Lambeau field this season and according to many, including myself, are the favorites to win the NFC.

But just how good is this Packer team? Are they better than they were in 2010? 2011? My answer is yes.

Besides the hiccup against the New Orleans Saints, the Packers have been rolling winning six of their last seven games.

One reason they are better than previous years is the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

He is playing the best football in his career right now and is playing better than any other quarterback in the NFL. He has 28 touchdowns to 3 interceptions on the season and is reading and anticipating defenses as well as he ever has.

In the NFL, there are a few Quarterbacks that can be considered elite. Tom Brady, Payton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers are in a class by themselves. Drew Brees has fallen out, and Andrew Luck is working his way in.

However, Rodgers has started to separate himself into a class of his own.

Brady fans will have their arguments of why Brady is better and Manning fans will have their arguments of why Manning is better, but as someone who has watched all three of these quarterbacks play numerous games; Rodgers has to be the best.

Here is why.

Rodgers is one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL and no doubt more athletic than Brady and Manning combined. His ability to move in the pocket and escape the pocket is rivaled by few.

Rodgers accuracy and arm strength are both also greater than Brady and Manning. His ability to throw an accurate deep ball is a tier above Brady and a few more tiers above Manning.

Finally, what makes Rodgers the most dangerous quarterback in the league has to be his ability to throw on the run.

Rodgers has the capability to extend plays far after the pocket has broken down. By rolling out to his right or left, he gives his receivers more time to get open and makes life difficult for any defense.

Looking at numbers, it’s not even close.

A quarterback’s passer rating measures the efficiency at which they are playing the game. The maximum number a quarterback can earn is 158.3 and the lowest is zero.

After 10 games in the 2014 season, Brady has a passer rating of 102.0, Manning has a passer rating of 107.1, and Rodgers has a passer rating of 120.1.

The touchdown to interception ratio for the three is Brady 24:5, Manning 30:9, and Rodgers 28:3.

Manning may have more touchdown passes this season so far than Rodgers, but he has thrown nearly 100 more passes. (407 to 313)

Rodgers is averaging the most yards per attempt this season, 8.78, which proves that he is getting the most out of his passes compared to anyone else in the league.

Another reason this team is rolling and better than years past is the improvement of the defense each week. The Eagles came in on Sunday leading the NFC in points per game, but the Packers shut them down convincingly.

The Pack was already up 17-0 before the Eagles earned their first points and were up 30-6 at the half. The Eagles managed just two touchdowns all game and were basically outscored by the Packers defense and special teams which scored three touchdowns on Sunday.

Julius Peppers of the Green Bay PackersJulius Peppers tallied his second pick six of the season in the third quarter when he intercepted Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez and showed off his athleticism by outrunning the Eagles offense and shaking off tackles as he made his way into the end zone.

The signing of Peppers looks more genius each week as he continues to rack up more impact plays per week. Hats are off to Packers general manager Ted Thompson for bringing in a 34-year-old who most thought was finished.

The Packers will travel to Minnesota to take on the 4-6 Vikings in what is the definition of a trap game, especially with the New England Patriots coming to Lambeau in two weeks. However, if I know anything about this Packer team, they will most definitely be ready for Minnesota and will want to build on their momentum moving forward.

Bear Down?

Randall Cobb of the Green Bay PackersIt is hard to believe that two NFL teams were playing on Sunday night, but after failing to find any reasonable explanation, I came to terms that the other team was indeed the Chicago Bears.

The Green Bay Packers humiliated the Bears on Sunday in a game that was 42-0 at halftime and was the largest halftime deficit for any Bears team in the 90 plus year history of the historic franchise.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had six touchdowns at the half which tied an NFL record and easily could have broken the record of the most touchdowns thrown in a game (seven) if he hadn’t been taken out in the third quarter.

The Bears defense looked lost from the beginning. Rodgers had all the time in the world to throw the ball and he picked them apart to the point where NBC commentator Chris Collinsworth was disgusted with them.

But was Sunday’s game more about how good the Packers are, or just the complete dumpster fire that is the Chicago Bears? Probably a little bit of both.

First, after being down 28-0 in the second quarter, the Bears looked like they flat out quit.

Eddie Lacy, although great and I take nothing away from the effort on the play, had one of the slowest developing explosive plays that I have ever seen.

The play in question included Lacy catching a screen pass and then running all over the field before jogging into the end zone. On the play, it didn’t look like any of the Bears defensive players wanted to chase Lacy as they were just jogging behind and alongside him.

Second, however, the Packers still played an excellent game.

On offense they were unstoppable. The Bears may have quit, but that was after they were down big. The Green Bay receivers are getting better each week, and now with Lacy catching passes for the last two games, the options Rodgers has to throw to just keep getting deeper.

The Defense played great as well and only allowed a net rushing total of 55 yards. This is huge because this is the same team that rushed for over 250 rushing yards against the Packers in week four.

Clay Matthews of the Green Bay PackersThe linebacker position had a new look as Clay Matthews moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, and the switch could not have worked better.

Matthews was flying all over the field and was making play after play. It was hard to believe this was his first game at the inside position, but he finally gave the Packers a presence inside that they desperately needed.

Even with the Packers offense scoring six touchdowns and the defense scoring one as well, the greatest play in the game was probably early in the second half on a Bears punt.

Receiver Jarrett Boykin broke through the Bears line and attempted to block the punt and kicked the ball with his foot before the Bears punter could kick it. It was a wild play that I can’t recall being seen in the NFL and was quite comical.

The Packers will host the Philadelphia Eagles next week in what will be a huge NFC match up. The Eagles are down their starting quarterback, Nick Foles, to a broken collarbone (an injury that Packer fans know too well) and will be starting backup Mark Sanchez.

 

Packers D Will Be Fine #SaveCapers

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb of the Green Bay PackersWe are halfway through the season and the Green Bay Packers are 5-3 and a game back of the division lead currently held by the Detroit Lions.

After stumbling out of the gate with a 1-2 start, the Packers have won four of their last five games and are the top scoring offence in the NFC with 222 points after eight weeks.

However, offense isn’t the problem and it’s never been the problem with quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center. The defense, once again, continues to be a concern for this team. Or is it?

Of course you can throw out the stat that the rush defense is last in the league and that the entire defense looked absolutely helpless against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday night, but let’s take a step back and actually evaluate the defenses performance over the course of the season.

There are only two games where I can point to and say; that was a bad defensive performance. They include on the road in Seattle against the Seahawks to open the season and on the road in New Orleans last week. These are arguably the top two toughest places to play in the NFL, and the defense still put together good first halves before coming apart in the second halves.

As soon as the defense has a bad game, a good chunk of Packer fans want defensive coordinator Dom Capers fired, but when they play a game where the defense is not an issue, which is six out of eight this year, they keep quiet and wait for them to slip up.

Fans look at how Seattle’s defense played last year and for some reason they believe that it is the new standard for defense.

However, it’s not because not even Seattle is that good this year.

This is a new NFL where defense is getting harder and harder to play each season. If your defense can just make a few stops, good teams can win games and go deep in the playoffs, and the Packers are a good team.

Every team has its bad defensive games. The Indianapolis Colts shut out the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago and looked dominant, but just last week they gave up 51 points to the Pittsburg Steelers and looked helpless. It’s a week to week league.

The Packers defense has a plethora of pass rushers this season and can really get after opponents quarterbacks. The pass rush has really helped the secondary and as soon as cornerback Sam Shields and safety Morgan Burnett get healthy, they will get back to being one of the best in the league.

If you’re still concerned about the bad rush defense, take a look back at the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. They were one of the worst rush defenses I had ever seen in a regular season, ever. But in the playoffs they were able to flip the switch and got significantly better. They won the super bowl that season.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay PackersThe lesson here is if you have a quarterback like Payton Manning, or in the Packers case, Aaron Rodgers, there is always a chance.

Fans complain about the scheme, but you don’t create a scheme to not work. In the end, it’s the player’s job to execute. You also can’t fire the coach and change the scheme midway through the season. This isn’t Madden.

One of the best things about the Packers is the continuity they have at key positions, on the field and on the staff. It’s the reason they can win any game and the reason they have made the playoffs for five straight years.

In the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X, the Packers will be fine. Here’s to the second half of the season.