No downfield game sends Packers downhill

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
12:53
PM ET

AP Photo/Mike RoemerThings have not been looking up of late for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Since winning 19 straight games (including playoffs), the Green Bay Packers have lost three of their last five.

In Week 1, Green Bay’s 13-game home win streak came to an end. Now they host the Chicago Bears on Thursday.

Green Bay has opened up the season with consecutive losses at home only twice in the Super Bowl era (1988, 2006).

Under the current playoff format since 1990, only 25 percent of teams that started 0-1 went on to make the playoffs. And, if history is any indication, then Thursday is a must-win situation for the Packers. Each of the five times the Packers have started 0-2 under the current playoff format they have missed the playoffs.

During the Packers’ 19-game win streak, Aaron Rodgers completed 55.5 percent of his throws 15 yards or more downfield. In his last four games, including last year’s playoff loss to the New York Giants, Rodgers has completed just 25.8 percent of such throws.

Rodgers’ counterpart, Jay Cutler, completed 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) of his throws 15 yards or more downfield in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. Only Drew Brees completed more such throws. However, since joining the Bears, Cutler has thrown two touchdowns and nine interceptions on passes at least 15 yards downfield against the Packers.

Cardinals at Patriots
One of the four matchups in Week 2 between 1-0 teams. Tom Brady has never lost a home opener as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback (9-0). He’s also 35-1 in his last 36 regular-season home starts. Both of Brady’s touchdown passes in Week 1 went to his tight ends, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Not including a kneel down, New England used at least two tight ends on all of its offensive plays against the Tennessee Titans, and Hernandez and Gronkowski each played 66 of a possible 67 offensive snaps. Wes Welker was on field for 42 of the Patriots’ 67 plays (62.7 percent). That was his lowest snap percentage since Week 3 of 2010. Last season, Welker was on field for 88.7 percent of the Patriots’ snaps.

Lions at 49ers
Can the 49ers slow down a second straight high-powered offense from the NFC North? San Francisco has won eight straight against Detroit -- the longest by either team in the history of the series.

Alex Smith was 15-of-16 for 152 yards and a touchdown when targeting his wide receivers in Week 1. Smith didn’t complete more than 13 passes to his wide receivers in a game last season, and was just 1-of-5 in the NFC Championship game.

The 49ers secondary will have to try to stop the Lions duo of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

Stafford has thrown for at least at least 350 yards in four straight games, which is tied for longest streak in NFL history with Drew Brees. And Johnson has at least 100 receiving yards in four straight games. No Lions player has at least five straight 100-yard receiving games since Pat Studstill had six consecutive 100-yard games in 1966.

In their win last season at Detroit, the 49ers sent four or fewer rushers on 55 of Matthew Stafford’s 56 dropbacks. Since the start of 2008, no quarterback has had more dropbacks against such pressure in a single game.

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