Contenders: Inspiring Statistical Trends

Here are 10 excellent stats that should provide plenty of optimism that the team's improved play isn't just a mirage. Among them are improvement on both sides of the ball in the red zone, passer rating domination and a quick turnaround from a glaring Week 1 deficiency. (David Banks/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers are 3-2 and winners of two in a row. If they’re legit contenders, then these numbers will be a reason why they’ll be in the hunt in January.

4.38: Sure, Green Bay’s third-down defense has been terrible, but if you want reason to believe that will change, it’s because the first-down defense is allowing a fourth-ranked 4.38 yards per play.

plus-6: That’s Green Bay’s turnover ratio, which is in a four-way tie for first in the league. From 2009 through 2012, the Packers were a second-best plus-65 before an abrupt 180-degree turn last season to finish minus-3. While the loss to Detroit bucked the trend, Green Bay is a whopping 59-8-1 when winning the turnover battle under coach Mike McCarthy. That’s a winning percentage of .866. Only four teams have fewer giveaways than Green Bay’s four, and eight of its 10 takeaways have come in the last three games.

“It’s something we preach,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “We have to take care of the ball. You don’t want to give the opponent anything free. Our defense is starting to create turnovers and, anytime you can win the turnover ratio, you have a great chance of winning the game. We’re doing what we want to do as far as the turnovers are concerned.”

72.2: Green Bay’s touchdown percentage in the red zone. That’s the third-best mark in the league. Last year, it scored touchdowns a 26th-ranked 50.8 percent of the time.

50.0: The opponent touchdown percentage when in Green Bay’s red zone. That’s tied for the eighth-best mark in the league. Last year, the Packers allowed a 24th-ranked touchdown rate of 61.4 percent.

“I think we’re playing better red zone defense,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “I think that shows up in our scoring defense. You want to keep that going. It’s something we certainly talk a lot about because we understand the importance of it that if you want to be a good defense against the score, people can get the ball down inside the 20. It’s a matter of not letting them get the ball in the end zone and keep them to kicking field goals.”

6/16: Sacks and quarterback hits against the Vikings. The quarterback hit count, as kept by the league, is the most since at least 2006 — when McCarthy took over as coach — and the second-most this season.

“Any defensive guy wants to take it at the quarterback,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “I think even when we weren’t hitting him, we were hopefully making him move around and be uncomfortable. A guy like Matt Flynn over here (next to Hawk’s locker), they hate getting hit. Quarterbacks don’t want to get hit.”

40.0: The difference between Green Bay’s team passer rating (110.5) and the passer rating against Green Bay’s defense (70.5). That’s the biggest difference in the league — Cincinnati is second at 36.2 — with Green Bay ranking second on both sides of the ball. “I’ve always felt when you have a quarterback like A-Rod (Aaron Rodgers), who has a 110 quarterback rating, if your opponent quarterback rating is 70, it’s going to give you a good chance to win a lot of football games,” Capers said.

49: Points allowed by the Packers over the last three-and-a-half games — a total of 14 quarters — which includes the fumble-return touchdown and safety against Detroit. During the first six quarters of the season, Green Bay allowed 57 points.

127.2: Rodgers’ third-down passer rating, which trails only San Diego’s Philip Rivers (134.8). No wonder why Green Bay ranks 10th with a 45.5 percent conversion rate.

5.12: Yeah, Green Bay is giving up an alarming number of yards. Or, maybe it’s not quite so alarming, because that number has been skewed by the number of snaps the defense has played. Green Bay ranks ninth by allowing 5.12 yards per play. That includes a fifth-ranked 6.03 yards per pass attempt.

42: Missed tackles. Remember, the Packers missed 18 in the opener against Seattle. So, in the last four games, they’ve missed 24 — or 6.0 per game.

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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