Plain and simple.
Drew Brees is having a great season – though his record-setting yardage total is a phony-baloney record (more on that later) – but it's nothing compared to what Rodgers is accomplishing.
Let us count the ways.
1. Behind Rodgers, the Packers are 14-1 and will finish with the NFL's best record, regardless of what happens on Sunday against Detroit. Brees' Saints are 12-3. Rodgers, of course, beat the Saints in Week 1, with both quarterbacks playing brilliantly. Beyond that, though, Brees threw two touchdown passes against five interceptions in losses to Tampa Bay and St. Louis, teams that have combined for six wins and 24 losses. Rodgers has six interceptions. Total.
2. Both quarterbacks are having brilliant seasons. With a passer rating of 122.5, Rodgers has a chance to break Peyton Manning's single-season record of 121.1. In addition to his 5,087 yards, Brees has completed 70.7 percent of his passes. That would break his own NFL record of 70.6 percent, established in 2009.
Rodgers, however, is doing more with less. To be sure, the Pro Bowl rosters are an inexact science, though with one-third of the vote from the players and one-third of the vote from the coaches, they rightfully carry some weight. The starting guards on the NFC team are the Saints' Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, and the backup offensive tackle is Jermon Bushrod. The proficiency of the blockers is evident in the sack totals. Only five quarterbacks have been sacked more than Rodgers' 36. Brees has been sacked 24 times, the 22nd-most in the league.
Plus, while the Saints' Jimmy Graham has emerged as arguably the NFL's best tight end, the Packers' Jermichael Finley has been a disappointment with a tight ends-high 11 drops. Speaking of drops, no quarterback has had more passes go through his pass-catchers' hands than Rodgers' 40, according to ProFootballFocus.com. On top of that, Darren Sproles gives the Saints one of the most dangerous checkdown options in the league.
3. The Packers' running game goes hot and cold. With James Starks going in and out of the lineup for the last month and Ryan Grant only recently getting into a groove, the Packers rank 27th with 98.5 rushing yards per game. That, believe it or not, is worse than last season, when with Grant out for all but about 20 minutes of the season and Starks only getting a role in the playoffs, Green Bay ranked 24th with 100.8 rushing yards per game with Brandon Jackson as its top ball-carrier.
With a committee of powerful Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, the darting Sproles and first-round pick Mark Ingram, the Saints rank ninth with 127.9 rushing yards per game and fifth with 4.8 yards per carry. Of the top 10 teams in the league in rushing, the Saints (396 attempts) have 25 fewer attempts than any other team.
To further amplify the advantage, New Orleans has 25 more rushing attempts than the Packers but 442 more yards. That Rodgers is doing what he's doing without anything more than a keep-the-defense-honest running game is incredibly impressive.
4. Even though Brees set one of the NFL's gold-standard records by moving past Dan Marino's 27-year-old mark for yardage, Rodgers is having the better year.
Rodgers is first in passer rating at 122.5, with Brees second at 108.4.
Rodgers is first in yards per attempt with 9.2. Brees is fifth at 8.2.
Rodgers is first in touchdowns with 45, with Brees second with 41.
Rodgers is second in interceptions with six, though Alex Smith's five have come on 87 fewer attempts. Rodgers is first with an interception percentage of 1.195, just a shade better than Smith's 1.205. Brees, with 13 interceptions, is seventh at 2.090 percent. Rodgers is the NFL's all-time leader in interception percentage, and if he avoids a pick against Detroit, he'll have the fifth-best season in NFL history.
Rodgers is first in touchdown-to-interception ratio by a mile, with his 7.6 touchdowns for every interception being more than double Tom Brady's 3.27-to-1.
By the end of Sunday, Brees will have added to his record for passing yards and might break his record for completion percentage. Rodgers, already the NFL's career leader in passer rating, might have the single-season record, as well.
Oh, and about that phony-baloney passing record? While Brees' accomplishment was the talk of the NFL on Sunday night and Monday and he's certainly a worthy record-holder, it's an inflated figure and a sign of the passing times.
Brees has thrown the most passes in the league with 622 – that's already the 10th-most in NFL history. Matthew Stafford is second this season with 604 attempts, with Brady's 576, Matt Ryan's 557 and Eli Manning's and Philip Rivers' 556 rounding out the top six. Where's Rodgers? He's 11th with 502. When Marino threw for 5,084 yards in 1984, he needed 564 attempts.
For further contrast, Rodgers is averaging 9.249 yards per attempt. That's the most since Kurt Warner's 9.9 in 2000 and would be 12th in NFL history. Of the top 26 yards-per-attempt seasons in NFL history, only Warner in 2000, Chris Chandler's 9.6 in 1998, Peyton Manning's 9.2 in 2004 and Boomer Esiason's 9.2 in 1988 have come over the last 25 years.
If Rodgers had thrown as many passes as Brees and maintained his average per attempt, he would have 5,752 yards and would be on pace for 6,136 yards – a whopping 1,052 yards more than Marino.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.