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Can the Green Bay Packers Really Keep Winning This Way?

The Packers’ winning ways likely shouldn’t be sustainable — but you always have a chance when Aaron Rodgers is your QB.

Ever think that Aaron Rodgers would find himself in a down-to-the-wire overtime slugfest against New England-Patriots third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe? Neither did we.

But at this rate for the Cheeseheads, a win is a win — no matter how ugly they’ve come.

On Sunday, Rodgers became just the fifth quarterback in history to throw at least 500 career touchdowns as his Green Bay Packers improved to 3-1. You’d think everybody in that Lambeau locker room would be joyous, but for good reason, that simply wasn’t the case.

“This way of winning, I don’t think, is sustainable because it puts too much pressure on our defense,” Rodgers said. “And obviously, I’ve got to play better and will play better.”

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Obviously, there’s a major Davante Adams-shaped void at Lambeau. The fans feel it. Rodgers feels it. And opposing defenses have been feeling more than a bit relieved as a result.

It’s clear as day the Packers don’t have “that guy” — the superstar skill player that can carry them to Super Bowl contention even against the run of play. And not for nothing, they have the NFL’s second-toughest schedule the rest of the way in the regular season based on opponent win percentage (58.8%), including away dates against the championship favorite Bills and 2022 breakouts Miami and Philadelphia.

But they do have Rodgers, an extremely talented backfield, and a defense. Considering those three factors, there’s no reason they can’t give the NFC a run for their money.

Just temper expectations a tad.

Rodgers Is Still Rodgers, But…

When Rodgers was extended for an extra three years and an incredible $150.8 million this past offseason, the four-time league MVP became the highest-paid player in the NFL on a per-year basis ($50.3 million AAV). There was little doubt he could carry the team to playoff contention — but who exactly is he meant to feel good about throwing the ball to now that Adams is doing his thing out in Las Vegas?

Consider that:

  • 2022 fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs is currently his WR1.
  • Doubs leads the underwhelming pack with 19 receptions, 184 yards, and two TDs.
  • Of Green Bay’s six pass-catchers with nine or more receptions, only three are wide receivers.
  • The Packers are scoring just 18.8 PPG (No. 21 in the NFL).

This is why the backfield is absolutely crucial. Nobody fears Green Bay’s wideouts no matter who’s throwing them the ball.

Contract and salary breakdown of the seven wide receivers on the Packers’ active roster (via Spotrac)

Dynamic Backfield Duo

The Cleveland Browns have arguably the best two-man backfield in the NFL, but the Packers are right there with them. Head coach Matt LeFleur has called run plays for Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon’s almost as much as Rodgers has thrown the ball the season — 116 rush attempts compared to Rodgers’ 129 passes. Here’s why:

  • Jones ranks No. 7 in the NFL in rushing yards (327) despite just 48 attempts (No. 23 in the league).
  • Jones and Dillon have combined to rush for 31 first downs; the Packers have passed for only 15 more first downs.
  • The team averages 145 rush yards per game (No. 8) at 5.0 yards per carry (No. 7).

They have both of these players at a bargain, too. They only have a total of $8.6 million committed on the books to four running backs, accounting for just 3.97% of their spending against the cap as noted by Spotrac.

Jones will earn a base salary of $1 million this season, with Dillon set to earn $1.09 million, right around the league’s median salary.

Defense Is Key

Like the old adage says: offense puts butts in the seats, but defense wins ballgames. In terms of cap dollars, the Packers spent the eighth-most money in the NFL on their defense alone ($78.82 million) — and so far it’s helping them stay afloat.

  • They rank No. 7 for opponent points per game (17.3)
  • They’re No. 3 for total pass yards allowed per game (168.0)
  • They’ve allowed the 3rd-fewest first downs (35)

But they’re far from perfect, as we saw this past Sunday. They almost let a third-string quarterback beat them, and they’ve struggled mightily against the run, allowing 5.0 yards per carry (ninth-worst in the NFL).

Jumble these three factors in — Rodgers, the backfield, and the defense — and we should be watching a playoff football team. But with the schedule getting tougher and their wideouts posing essentially no threat, don’t put all your marbles in a Super Bowl run in Wisconsin.

Vegas doesn’t seem to care about how they’re winning — only that they are, indeed, winning.

Packers’ 2022 Futures Odds

All odds via FanDuel SportsBook

Win NFC North: (-120)
Win Super Bowl: (+1000)
Win Total: Over 11.5 (+105) | Under 11.5 (-125)
Make Playoffs: Yes (-490) | No (+390)

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