In 2014, the Green Bay Packers dominated their home schedule in a fashion rarely seen in NFL history.
The Packers swept through their eight games at Lambeau Field, with those contests frequently over by halftime. After needing a big second half to beat the Jets in their home opener, the Packers outscored their opponents a whopping 93-7 in the first quarter and 189-30 in the first half of their final seven regular-season home games. Their 318 points in regular-season home games were the third-most in NFL history. Among teams to go undefeated at home, the Packers’ plus-155 point differential stands as the 12th-largest of all-time.
It was a different story last season, however. The Packers went only 5-3 at Lambeau. Unbelievably, they lost all three NFC North home games. The Packers hadn’t lost a division home game with a healthy Aaron Rodgers at quarterback since Brett Favre and the Vikings won at Lambeau Field in 2009 — a streak of 12 consecutive victories.
“Yeah, don’t like that, that’s for sure,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the end of last season. “That’s definitely against the pattern of our success. I think it’s like anything — we talk about the fundamentals of football, we’re excessive in our training of ball drills and take a lot of pride in the way our perimeter people handle the football, and it has to show up during the games. And it’s no different than division games. We put a lot of time in preparing for division games, and when you don’t win those at home, it’s obviously concerning. On the flip side of it, we won all three on the road, so go figure. But you have to win your home games. That’s the formula for any playoff team, and we did not do a good enough job in that area this year and that will be part of our offseason evaluation.”
Finding those answers will be critical, because the Packers must re-establish their home dominance as quickly as it vanished. After starting this season at Jacksonville, Green Bay will play its next five games at Lambeau Field, with all three division home contests set for the first six games of the season. While only three of the eight home games will be against opponents who qualified for the playoffs last season, there isn’t a team who was the equivalent of road kill. Chicago (6-10 overall, 5-3 road), Detroit (7-9, 3-5), Minnesota (11-5, 5-3), Dallas (4-12, 3-5), N.Y. Giants (6-10, 3-5), Seattle (10-5, 5-3), Houston (9-7, 4-4) and Indianapolis (8-8, 4-4) went a combined 32-32 on the road. That’s a better winning percentage than those teams did overall.
To right the ship at home and position themselves to take back the NFC North from the Vikings, the Packers will need better production from Rodgers. In 2014, when Rodgers won his second MVP award, he set an NFL record with a 133.2 passer rating at home. In those games, he threw 25 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Last season? Rodgers’ rating was a modest-for-him 94.9 with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.