Game Preview Notes: 21 Things You Don't Know

Which player has the most on his plate other than Aaron Rodgers on offense? And which player can make a big impact even if he only gets the ball once or twice? That and more in the best game preview you'll find anywhere. Not a subscriber? Take our one-week, no-risk test drive.

On one play, Jermichael Finley is lined up as a traditional tight end. On the next, he's flanked out as a wide receiver. On the next, he motions into the backfield and essentially plays fullback.

Which leads to an interesting question: Does Finley have as much on his plate as any player on the Green Bay Packers' offense other than quarterback Aaron Rodgers?

"Probably so," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin told Packer Report on Thursday after considering the question for a moment. "He's probably in more spots and he's involved in run blocking. The receivers are in a ton of spots but they have perimeter responsibilities and sometimes Jermichael's got perimeter blocking responsibilities, interior blocking responsibilities."

Finley is having an up-and-down season, and at least some of it's probably because the coaches, in Finley's words, have "dumped the bucket on me" in terms of what they're asking of him in the weekly game plan.

Not that Finley is complaining.

"When they stop using you like that, it's a problem," he said. "As long as they're using me like this, I'm going continue doing what I do and make plays."

With three dropped passes last week against the Giants, Finley has six in the last three games and a total of nine — most among tight ends, as counted by His 42 receptions rank 16th, his 600 yards rank sixth, his six touchdowns are tied for fourth. His 63.6 catch percentage ranks 24th.

Make no mistake, though: Finley has a major impact on games, whether he catches six passes, like last week against the Giants, or has one catch, like he did against Tampa Bay a couple weeks earlier.

"They know where he is," tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said.

"My guess is, if you talked to the opposition, they're probably going to have a plan for him in terms of how you're going to treat him," Philbin said. "Are you going to play sub defense? Are you going to play base defense? Are you going to blitz? Are you going to play man-to-man coverage, and if you do, who's going to play man-to-man coverage on him? Yeah, there has to be some thought process put in by the opposition as to how they're going to handle him. It's fair to say they're spending some time in their meeting room deciding, based on the personnel group and the situation, how they're going to treat him."

The defense's focus on Finley has led to moments of frustration, some of which have come through in postgame interviews. The Packers' wide receivers form easily the most productive unit in the NFL, and part of that has to be because of so many defensive eyeballs focused on Finley.

"I don't see it in when I'm in the heat out there," he told Packer Report on Friday. "Once I get to the film, I'm like, ‘Damn, I had three guys go with me on that play. Don't you see that wide-open dude right here? Carry him, go over there!' I see it when I go to film, but when I'm in the heat, I'm like, ‘Why isn't the ball coming here?' It's because three people are carrying me on some plays. So, it's pretty frustrating."

A challenge for Rodgers

Oakland's pass defense ranks a deceiving 17th in the NFL. After being riddled by Kyle Orton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez and Tom Brady in the season's first four games, the Raiders have held their last eight opponents to a combined completion percentage of less than 50 percent.

That, of course, will be challenged by Aaron Rodgers.

''You see a quarterback that can make every throw on the field,'' cornerback Stanford Routt told The Associated Press' Josh Dubow. ''He has great receivers, great scheme — he's got basically everything you need to be successful. He's got a little of that Tom Brady, where he doesn't mind who is going to be the leading receiver that Sunday. Obviously, they do have a lot of good receivers. They've got about two or three guys that are actually like No. 1s, so it's definitely going to be a good challenge for us on the back end on Sunday.''

Since facing Brady on Oct. 2, the Raiders are one of two teams to allow less than half the passes against them to be completed, with their 49.5 percent mark trailing only Houston. Oakland also has 22 sacks and 11 interceptions in that span, helping them hold opponents to a 68.6 passer rating — second best to the Texans.

While the Raiders had success against Houston's Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers in that stretch, the other games have come against far less accomplished passers such as Colt McCoy, Matt Cassel, Tim Tebow, Christian Ponder, Caleb Hanie and Matt Moore.

Those guys aren't playing anywhere near Rodgers' level.

"They're giving you different looks than you might see all the time," Rodgers said. "They like to switch it up. They have a number of different blitzes they like to us as opposed to some teams we play in the past They're going to play some man behind their pressures and play some zone, one-high zone, two-high zone, some quarters behind us. They're going to give you a lot of different looks. And they're fighting for a playoff spot right now. They're tied for the division lead and they know how important this game is to them."

Your weekly dose of Rodgers

— Scott Kacsmar of put together a list of the game-winning one-minute drills since the start of the 1981 season. To add perspective to what Rodgers did in beating the Giants, there have been only 103 such drives over the last 30 years, including three this season. Of those, only 20 drives were of at least 60 yards. Rodgers navigated the Packers 68 yards last week. His 68 passing yards on the drive was the seventh-most.

— Rodgers needs one more big, efficient game to make some history. He's tied with Steve Young (1994) for most 110-plus passer rating games in a season with 11, and he's tied with Young (1994) and Brady (2010) for most 100-plus rating games in a season with 12.

— The Raiders love to attack defensively, but they'll be doing so at their own risk. Rodgers leads the league by a mile in passer rating (142.9, vs. Brady's 114.3), completion percentage (68.8, vs. Brady's 62.0) and yards per attempt (12.49, vs. Eli Manning's 9.31) when blitzed.

— Behind Rodgers, the Packers are on pace to obliterate the franchise scoring record and set a record for most yards in a season. Green Bay has 420 points — just 41 points off the record 461 put up by Rodgers and Co. in 2009. In terms of yardage, the Packers are on pace for 6,485. The record is 6,357, set in 2004.

Situational football

The key for the Raiders will be their ability to stop the Packers on third down and the red zone.

Oakland ranks 26th in the league in both departments, allowing opponents to convert third down into first down 42.0 percent of the time and score touchdowns on 62.2 percent of their trips inside the 20.

That, of course, is where Rodgers has made his mark. Rodgers leads the league with a 120.4 passer rating on third down and is second with a rating of 115.2 in the red zone. Once inside the opponent's 20, Rodgers has thrown 23 touchdown passes and no interceptions. As a team, the Packers are fourth in the league with a touchdown percentage of 64.7 percent in the red zone.

Raiders blitz

— While the Packers lead in the league in interceptions by a mile with 23 (Houston, Kansas City and New England are next with 17), the Raiders can make some plays, too. They had back-to-back three-interception games against Minnesota and Chicago. Routt has three interceptions, including two in the last three weeks. That's tied for the team lead with former Packers safety Matt Giordano.

— The Raiders have allowed the fifth-fewest sacks in the league (21). A few weeks ago against Minnesota, second-year left tackle Jared Veldheer snapped Jared Allen's sacks streak at 11 games.

— The Packers will have to be prepared on special teams. The Raiders made big plays with a fake field goal against Cleveland on Oct. 16 (punter/holder Shane Lechler to tight end Kevin Boss for a 35-yard touchdown) and on a fake punt against Houston on Oct. 9 (Rock Cartwright took the direct snap and ran 35 yards for a first down).

—  Linebacker Aaron Curry bombed as the fourth overall pick of the 2009 draft by Seattle. The Raiders acquired him on Oct. 13 for a 2012 seventh-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2013. He's started all seven games and brought some "feistiness" to the defense, according to Raiders coach Hue Jackson.

"The key for any football player is to put them in a situation to showcase their talents," Jackson said. "When I look at the Packers, that's what they do a great job of. They take their guys and give them a chance to do what they do really well. I think that's what football is — taking guys and giving them an opportunity to be who they are. Let their ability show. That's what we're trying to do with those guys."

History lessons

— For fans without an appreciation of history, it's easy to think of the Raiders as little more than a perennial bottom-feeder. However, the Raiders are one of nine teams to have played in at least five Super Bowls. They opened this season with a .541 all-time winning percentage, best among the original AFL teams.

— The Packers-Raiders regular-season series is tied 5-5. The Raiders won every game played between 1972 and 1987, and the Packers have won every game since 1990. In the 1999 opener, Brett Favre hit Jeff Thomason for a 1-yard touchdown to cap a fourth-quarter rally. On Dec. 22, 2003, Favre played arguably the best game of his career in the wake of his father's death, throwing for 399 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-7 romp.

— In 1993, the Packers beat the Raiders 28-0 in the season-finale and clinched a playoff berth, with Reggie White's fumble recovery and lateral to LeRoy Butler resulting in a Butler touchdown and the first-ever Lambeau Leap.

"I knew Reggie when he was in Philly, if one of their lineman would get an interception or a fumble, they would toss it to like (cornerback) Eric Allen or some of these other guys, they'd just try and toss it right to them and they would run with it," Butler told Packer Report's Keith Roerdink this week for a feature on the Leap. "And I remembered that, so that's what made me run towards Reggie. I was like, 'Oh, I remember him pitching the ball when he was in Philly.' And as I ran, he saw me coming toward him and I saw him positioning the ball to lateral it. S,o everybody else was stunned, they didn't know where the ball was or they didn't know if there was a fumble or not, but at that point, Reggie had already started running and then once I started running toward Reggie he lateraled the ball and the rest was history."

— The Packers, of course, beat the Raiders 33-14 in Super Bowl II. Bart Starr was named MVP of the game for the second consecutive year, Don Chandler booted four field goals, Herb Adderley clinched the game with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown and Vince Lombardi was carried off the field in his final game as coach.

— Green Bay's 12-0 record is great, but it of course means nothing. While the Colts and Saints started 12-0 in 2009 and played each other in Super Bowl XLII, the 2005 Colts and 2007 Patriots won their opening 12 games but didn't win the big prize. The Colts lost to Pittsburgh in the divisional playoffs while the undefeated Patriots lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. Before that, the 1972 Dolphins, 1985 Bears and 1998 Broncos all started at least 12-0 and parlayed those strong starts into championships. Added together, in the Super Bowl era, seven other teams started at least 12-0, with four of them winning the Super Bowl.

Four-point stance

— This isn't your classic matchup between the immovable object against the unstoppable force. The Packers rank 29th in the league in rushing with 96.5 yards per game and have struggled to gain feet, much less yards, since James Starks went down with a sprained ankle against Tampa Bay. Oakland, on the other hand, ranks 28th in rushing defense with 141.4 yards allowed per game.

— There have been 18 punts returned for touchdowns — the most through 13 weeks and within striking distance of the record of 22 set in 2002. On the other hand, there have been eight kickoffs returned for touchdowns. The 10-year average is just more than 15, according to The Sports Xchange's Len Pasquarelli. The Packers' Randall Cobb is one of three players with at least one touchdown on punts and kickoffs, joining Devin Hester and Ted Ginn.

— The Packers are No. 2 in the league with a turnover margin of plus-16. Green Bay is the only team in the league to have won the turnover battle or come out even in every game. The Raiders are even in turnovers.

— How about this: The Packers' wide receivers have caught 28 touchdown passes. Second on the list is Dallas with 18. That's as many as Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson combined.

The last word ...

... Goes to Rodgers: "It's fun when you're throwing the ball the way you want to and you're seeing the game a certain way. It's a lot of preparation, a lot of recall. As a quarterback, you need to have a good memory, be able to recall plays that might have happened a couple years ago in a game at a certain time, and be able to see those pictures in your head. Visualization has been an important part of my success, being able to see plays when breaking the huddle or as I'm lying in bed the night before thinking about things that we've done successfully in the past, things where we've struggled, trying not to make the same mistakes. So, it's a combination of hard work and a good recall that's allowing us to play like we play on offense."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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