The Green Bay Packers are the true leaders of the pack.
Since the start of the 2009 season, when Aaron Rodgers settled in as quarterback and made the Packers a perennial championship contender, they’ve been the league’s fastest-starting team. Over the past seven seasons, Green Bay owns a 353-point scoring advantage following the first quarter. The next two teams, New England (plus-226) and Cincinnati (plus-153), are a combined plus-379. For further perspective on their dominance, only three other teams (Atlanta, New Orleans and Denver) even have a 100-point scoring advantage.
Even last season, when the Packers’ offense struggled more than it ever had with Rodgers at quarterback, Green Bay jumped on its opponents. It finished second in first-quarter scoring and first in scoring differential, with its plus-61 being eight points better than the Bengals, Patriots and Saints.
Not surprisingly, teams that started fast tended to win. After all, teams that start fast tend to have better talent than their opponents. Of the 14 teams with a positive first-quarter scoring differential last season, 12 posted winning records, with a pair of 7-9 teams (the Saints and Lions) being the exceptions. Ten of the 12 playoff teams and 10 of the 11 teams that won double-digit games came out on the positive side of the first-quarter ledger.
Simply, the Packers are front-runners, with Rodgers putting the team in charge and the defense forcing turnovers to turn games into runaways. Never was that more evident than the second half of the 2014 season, when the Packers roared into the playoffs by winning seven of their final eight games. In those seven wins, they trailed for exactly 0 seconds. Even last season, the Packers trailed for 0 seconds in four of their wins and less than 1:30 in two others.
From 2009 through 2015, the Packers are 48-11-1 when leading after the first quarter, including 26-0 when ahead by at least eight points. Three of the losses came last season, when the Packers were plus-61 in the first quarter but minus-65 in the second quarter and minus-20 in the third quarter because of an offense that functioned only sporadically.
When trailing after the first quarter over the past seven seasons, the Packers are 13-12, including 4-3 when trailing by at least eight points. The Packers trailed after the first quarter just twice last season — the blowout loss at Denver and the stunning Hail Mary win at Detroit. However, they never led in marquee losses to Denver, Arizona and Minnesota.
For his career, Rodgers has completed 66.0 percent of his passes with 60 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a rating of 106.5 in the first quarter. That completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and rating are his best for any quarter.
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.