MVP’s (Most Valuable Players)
1. Aaron Rodgers has been on top of his game. His passer rating of 113.6 would be the second-best of his career and extend his NFL record to six consecutive seasons with a rating of 100-plus. Because the offense has been on the field so rarely in a number of games, Rodgers is on pace to throw just 500 passes. From his five full seasons as the starter, he’s averaged 521 attempts. Still, he’s on pace to throw for 4,186 yards, 38 touchdowns and six interceptions, compared to his full-season averages of 4,266 yards, 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions. You might say that’s just “typical Rodgers,” but it’s pretty impressive considering his No. 3 option is a rookie receiver and the tight end position hasn’t contributed nearly as much as past seasons.
2. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have combined for 52.0 percent of the team’s catches, 62.0 percent of the yards and 78.9 percent of the touchdowns. Nelson has been the star of the passing game, though you’d like to see him be more of a factor against guys like the Saints’ Keenan Lewis, who is a good young player not but not exactly a star. Nelson is sixth with 50 catches, fifth with 737 yards and tied for sixth with six touchdowns. Cobb had 126 receiving yards in the first three games but 121 and 126 in the last two. He’s tied for the league high with nine touchdowns. Nelson’s reception total ranks second among Packers receivers since 1960 (Sterling Sharpe, 57, 1993) and Cobb’s touchdown tally is the most by a Packer during that span.
3. The interior line of T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and rookie center Corey Linsley have been outstanding. If you put a lot of weight on the position rankings produced by Pro Football Focus, Sitton and Lang rank second and sixth, respectively, among the guards. Baltimore (Marshal Yanda, No. 1; Kelechi Osemele, No. 3) is the only other team with its starters both in the top 10. The Ravens’ center, Jeremy Zuttah, ranks 16th while Linsley ranks fourth, so the Packers have the best trio in the league.
4. Never mind Eddie Lacy’s value in the running game. Among backs who have been used in pass protection for more than 25 snaps, only Lacy and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell haven't allowed so much as a single quarterback pressure, according to ProFootballFocus.com. He also hasn’t dropped a pass as his full-season pace of 42 receptions for 418 yards is on track to easily eclipse his rookie-year numbers of 35 receptions for 257 yards. This season, he ranks fourth among all players in yards after the catch per catch.
MDP’s (Most Disappointing Players)
1. Green Bay’s tight ends have combined for 23 receptions. Eighteen individual tight ends have at least that many. At least Andrew Quarless has been OK in the run game. Green Bay averages 0.45 yards more per carry with Quarless in the game than when he’s on the bench. With Richard Rodgers on the field, the Packers average 0.70 yards per carry less than when he’s on the bench. Brandon Bostick has disappeared, with one catch for 2 yards.
2. With 49 receptions for 681 yards in essentially a 12-game season last year, Jarrett Boykin was a breakout performer. He’s vanished this season, though. He has as many drops as catches (two) with just 17 yards.
3. Second-year left tackle David Bakhtiari certainly hasn’t been terrible. He just hasn’t taken that big second-year step forward. According to STATS, Bakhtiari has allowed five sacks and been penalized five times (three for holding), which puts him on pace for 10 sacks and 10 penalties (six holding). Last season, he allowed 7.5 sacks and was penalized eight times (six for holding). Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who missed the second half of 2012 and all of 2013 with injuries, has allowed 3.5 sacks and been penalized once (zero for holding). In 12 games in 2011, he was tagged for one sack and three penalties (one for holding); in 12 games in 2012, he was docked for five sacks and five penalties (three for holding).
Reason to cheer
You can slice and dice the numbers any way you like, but the idea is to score points and not turn over the ball. The Packers have excelled by both measures. They rank sixth with 27.8 points per game. And they’re tied for seventh with seven giveaways. If that pace holds, they’d have only 14 for the season, which would tie the 2011 team for fewest in franchise history.
Reason to pull your hair
Green Bay just needs to be more consistent. They rank 13th with a third-down conversion rate of 42.2 percent, and they check in at No. 8 with a touchdown rate of 64.5 percent in the red zone. The Packers might have knocked off the Saints had they done better than 1-of-7 on third down and 1-of-4 in the red zone. Meanwhile, the Packers have allowed a sack on 7.71 percent of their dropbacks. That’s 26th in the league. With Rodgers’ penchant for extending plays, they’ll never be great in this area but the Packers need to be email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.