You don't get great quarterback duels as often as you'd like, but you've got one shaping up for Sunday, October 13, 2013 at M&T Bank Stadium (1:00 EST).
The Green Bay Packers as a team are a little banged up at the moment, but their QB is as good as ever. What I like about Aaron Rodgers besides his great throwing arm and accuracy is his ability to run in a way that gives him a better throwing position—and also to extend pass plays so that his receivers have a lot more time to get open.
Both Rodgers and Joe Flacco have won Super Bowls, another big angle to this matchup. Flacco has emerged as just a potent gunslinger as Rodgers, although Joe may be just a tad less mobile. But both guys are cut from the same cloth– tough, smart, durable and excellent passers with exceptional arm strength.
Aaron Rodgers has become one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Rodgers has the fifth-best quarterback rating in the NFL (105.5) and blew up on the Washington Redskins in Week 2, throwing for 480 yards and four touchdowns. Rodgers has been kept under 300 yards in his last two games, but he can go off at any time. He is very accurate and moves well inside the pocket.
Scouting the Packers, the Ravens.com writer Ryan Mink came up with some important observations about the rest of the team from Green Bay:
Packers Have A Run Game
Long known only for their passing game, Green Bay has developed more balance this season. They’ve thrown 152 times and run 106, which is even a bit more balanced than their opponents thus far. James Starks is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, which is tops in the NFL among running backs. Green Bay also drafted former Alabama standout Eddie Lacy in the second round, and the power back is averaging 3.9 carries per rush.
It’s Cobb Season
Second-year jack-of-all-trades player Randall Cobb is Rodgers’ favorite weapon these days. He’s been targeted with a team-high 40 passes while the next closest is wide receiver Jordy Nelson with 30. Cobb leads the team with 25 catches and has an impressive 128 yards after the catch. Cobb is a shifty 5-foot-10 former quarterback/wide receiver/returner at Kentucky. He’s not doing as much returning these days because of his receiving duties, which is good news for opponents.
Clay Won’t Play
Green Bay was dealt a big blow last week when pass rusher Clay Matthews broke his thumb against the Lions. He hasn’t been officially ruled out yet, but is expected to miss a month. Matthews is the emotional leader of the defense and one of its most feared players. He had a team-high three sacks through the team’s first four games after recording 13 sacks last year.
Pass Defense Is The Weakness
Green Bay has the fifth-ranked run defense, allowing just 86 yards per game. But their pass defense is the weakness. The Packers rank 26th in the NFL, allowing 288.8 yards per game. Green Bay’s defensive backfield is anchored by two former undrafted players, cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams. A lot of the damage was done in the first two weeks, however, by San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Washington’s Robert Griffin III, who was throwing constantly because Washington was far behind.
If there are any possible trends to be aware of, Green Bay has lost its last four road games, dating back to last season. The Packers, who many pundits have tabbed as a Super Bowl contender, are a surprising 2-2 so far. Both of their losses came on the road in San Francisco and Cincinnati. The Packers had a 16-point lead in Cincinnati, but lost it down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Ravens have won 13-consecutive home games against the NFC dating back to 2006, the NFL’s longest home winning stretch by one conference versus another.
My guess is whichever team whose QB gets on the hottest roll this Sunday will probably be the team that wins…but remember, that logic did not hold up in the Tony Romo vs. Peyton Manning matchup last Sunday in Dallas. Romo was hotter than a pepper sprout—but somehow Peyton kept up with him, and caught him at the end.