Undefeated Teams Just Part of Second-Half Challenge for Packers

Here's a game-by-game look at the final 10 games of the Green Bay Packers' regular season.

The Green Bay Packers are 6-0. The combined record of those opponents is 14-26.

The challenge gets considerably tougher, starting Sunday night at Denver. The combined record of the upcoming 10 opponents is 32-29. While none of the first six foes had a winning record, five of the final 10 are at least 4-2. Four of the first six games were at Lambeau Field; six of the final 10 games will be on the road.

Here is a quick look at each of the 10 games. Records are up-to-date but all statistical rankings are from before this weekend’s games.

at Denver Broncos (6-0): Not unlike the Denver teams that won back-to-back Super Bowls behind over-the-hill John Elway, these Broncos could win the Super Bowl in spite of Peyton Manning. The Broncos rank fourth in points allowed. Considering how the Packers have struggled to move the ball through the air, how will they have success against a Broncos defense that ranks second in yards allowed per pass attempt and first in sack percentage? The Broncos are tied for first with a plus-six turnover margin.

at Carolina Panthers (5-0; not including Sunday night’s game): Cam Newton is the headliner but, like the Broncos, this team is about defense. Carolina ranks third in passing yards per play and eighth in points allowed. That defense turns into offense; the Panthers rank only 28th in yards but sixth in scoring. The Panthers are tied for first with a plus-six turnover margin.

Detroit Lions (1-6): What a difference a season makes. The Lions were one bad call from winning at Dallas in last year’s Wild Card round. Without Ndamukong Suh leading a ferocious defensive front, the Lions rank 30th in total defense, 32nd against the pass, 26th on third down and 29th in points allowed.

at Minnesota Vikings (4-2): This is what the Vikings had in mind when hiring Mike Zimmer as coach: The Vikings rank second in points allowed per game — the perfect counterpoint to Green Bay’s high-flying offense. It’s a bend-but-don’t break unit that doesn’t rank high in any other defensive category other than No. 3 in the red zone.

Chicago Bears (2-4): The Bears allowed 478 points in 2013 and 442 points in 2014 — the worst two seasons in the long history of the franchise. This season, the Bears rank 32nd with 29.8 points allowed per game — putting them on pace to yield 477 points.

at Detroit Lions (1-6): It’s the same old offense for the Lions. Matthew Stafford is throwing the ball all over the yard — frequently to the wrong team — because the run game is pathetic. The Lions were averaging 66.5 rushing yards per game and 3.35 yards per carry before Sunday — both worst in the league. Worse, they rank 32nd in giveaways and turnover margin.

Dallas Cowboys (2-4): The Cowboys have stumbled without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Both should be back in plenty of time for this game. Other than the quarterback situation, the big difference is turnovers. Last season, Dallas was plus-6 in turnovers thanks to a second-ranked 31 takeaways. Before Sunday, Dallas had a league-low three takeaways.

at Oakland Raiders (3-3): The Raiders have a tremendous run defense — third in yards per game and fourth in yards per carry — but they’re yielding almost 300 passing yards per game. Second-year quarterback Derek Carr has made a big jump — up about 17 points in passer rating over his rookie year.

at Arizona Cardinals (4-2): Even with two losses, the Cardinals statistically have been dominant, with a second-ranked plus-14.7 scoring margin. Quarterback play has been the key. Defensively, the Cardinals had a league-high 11 interceptions entering Monday’s game vs. Baltimore. Offensively, Carson Palmer ranks fifth in passer rating, second in touchdown percentage and third in yards per attempt.

Minnesota Vikings (4-2): Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater averaged 168.3 passing yards with just one touchdown in the first three games. Including Sunday’s win at Detroit, he averaged 278.0 passing yards with four touchdowns in the next three games. Oh, Adrian Peterson is back. He’s on pace for 1,413 rushing yards.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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