The 1-2 start for Green Bay led to serious anxiety among the Cheeseheads, to which Aaron Rodgers spelled out the word 'relax'. A naturally laid-back player in any regard, Rodgers paid off his reassuring spelling lesson by leading Green Bay to a 5-1 record since. In that stretch, Rodgers has thrown 20 touchdowns and only two picks (both to the Saints in the only loss during that time).
More impressive than the 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Rodgers has completed 70.29 percent of his throws over the last six games, peaking with 86.36 percent completions (19 of 22) against the struggling Panthers. One-sided loss to the Saints aside, Rodgers continues to prove clutch capability when the team is in dire need of a jump start.
Call 2014 an up-and-down year for Eddie Lacy, the NFL's reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Much like LeSean McCoy, Lacy is trying, and struggling at times, to return to prior-season form. To date, Lacy has only cleared 100 yards once, a 105-yard day in laugher win over the Vikings. His next highest output is a measly 63 against the Panthers. In nine games, Lacy's only topped four yards a carry three times. On three occasions, the powerful back finished below three yards a run.
In recent weeks, Lacy's found a niche working as a receiver. After catching 13 passes for 86 yards in the first seven games, Lacy has added 11 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown over the last two. The touchdown was an embarrassing one for the Bears, as the bulky runner weaved through traffic 56 yards for the score, thanks to some superb downfield blocking. It's a wonder Mel Tucker wasn't forced to walk home after the game.
You may have watched Green Bay make mince-meat out of Chicago's secondary on Sunday night, and are harboring fear that Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and Nate Allen may wind up sitting ducks. Fear a bit less there, for Chicago's secondary is about as useful as a space heater in the Sahara. Still, Philly's 'backcourt' will have their hands full with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
The receiving combo combines for 1539 yards and 18 receiving touchdowns after just nine games. Nelson has eight of the scores and 889 of the yards, averaging only a shade under 100 receiving yards a game. Cobb has more scores, but is generally a highly-effective second fiddle to Nelson. Behind that duo, rookie Davante Adams is good for another 30 yards a game on average.
Count em up: 12 interceptions are bestowed to Packer defenders, split among nine different players. Casey Heyward took one of his three picks on the year to the house, while old man Julius Peppers managed a pick-six himself. Green Bay loves their 2-4-5 scheme for the mismatches the amorpheous set-up can create, especially when disguising Clay Matthews.
While the Packers have managed a fairly-median 22 sacks in nine games, the interceptions have made up for that total. Opponents do average 11.3 yards per completion, so picking up the blitz can put Dom Capers' defense into feast-or-famine mode. Green Bay has only allowed 13 touchdown passes, but the 61.59 percent of completions can be encouraging to offensive coordinators.
RUN DEFENSE STRUGGLES
The defense does have its flaws, and they're not hard to find. Green Bay allows the fourth most yards on the ground, behind only the Giants, Chiefs, and Browns. The 4.57 yards allowed are especially visible in the losses to the Seahawks and Saints, where Marshawn Lynch and Mark Ingram respectively did most of the dirty work.
Three backs easily topped 100 yards on the Packers: Lynch with 110 (5.50 YPA), Matt Forte in the first meeting with Chicago with 122 (5.30 YPA), and Ingram's mammoth 172 (7.17 YPA). The one-sided win over the Bears on Sunday was the first time all season a Packers opponent was held below 100 rushing yards as a team; Chicago was held to 55 there while the previous low had been 108 from Carolina.
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