There are few teams that centralize their passing game to two or three receivers. Most have three. Dallas. Atlanta. Denver utilizes four primary receivers. But, in Green Bay, with Jermichael Finley no longer in the picture as a playmaking tight end, Nelson and Cobb have centralized power in the passing game like few tandems in the NFL have achieved in recent years.
Thanks to several blowout wins in which the Packers have been in front early and pulling Rodgers, Nelson and Cobb late in games, they haven’t been on the field as many snaps as a lot of elite receivers, but their numbers with Rodgers have been nothing short of amazing.
Between them, through 10 games, they have caught 114 passes for 1,777 yards and 19 touchdowns. Nelson has five 100-yard games, including single-game totals of 209 and 152 yards. He’s averaging 16.6 yards every time he touches the ball. When a defense doesn’t have an answer for him, Rodgers and Nelson abuse them. He has four games with nine or more receptions. He has scored touchdowns in seven of 10 games, with two TDs in two of them. He has five games in which he has a reception of 59 yards or more.
Cobb is the more consistent threat, often coming out of the slot and running crossing routes that have defenders trying to chase him down. He has caught five or more passes in seven games. He has four 100-yard games in the last seven. He has caught at least one touchdown in eight of 10 games. He has at least one catch in eight of 10 games, including each of the last seven.
Rodgers has thrown 313 passes. Of those, 168 of them (54 percent) have gone to Nelson or Cobb. Of his 209 completions, 114 of them (55 percent) have gone to them. Of Rodgers’ 2,748 passing yards, 1,777 of them (65 percent) have gone to Nelson and Cobb. Of his 28 touchdowns, 19 of them (68 percent) have gone to the dynamic duo.
If there is anything to be taken from those numbers, it is that the numbers that are more important – in ascending order targets, catches, yards and touchdowns – that makes their role in the Packers offense so pronounced.
In their first meeting, the Vikings did as good a job as any in limiting the two, but the big play was still there. Nelson caught just one pass, but it was a 66-yard touchdown. Cobb caught just three passes for 34 yards, but he also caught a TD pass.
Given the assault that the Bears put on the Vikings top three corners, especially Robinson, unless the Vikings find a way to bottle up the Big Two in the receiving game for the Packers, it’s going to be a long afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. The Packers have pair of aces coming into play, and typically under that scenario, things don’t end well. The Vikings need to crack the aces and force Rodgers to look elsewhere to gain his yards, making the battle between the Dynamic Duo and the Three Amigos this week’s key.