Stats & Info: Green Bay Packers

Top stats to know: NFL Free Agency (Day 5)

March, 15, 2014
Mar 15
10:38
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What were the top statistical storylines from Day 5 of NFL Free Agency?

Edelman stays in New England

Unrestricted free agent Julian Edelman agreed to terms to remain with the New England Patriots. Edelman developed a great rapport with Tom Brady last season, becoming his favorite target. No Patriots receiver had more receptions, yards, touchdowns or targets than Edelman last season. In fact, Edelman caught 70.5 percent of his targets from Tom Brady last season, the highest completion percentage by a QB-WR duo with at least 75 attempts.

Edelman ranked fourth with a career-high 105 catches last season, a huge leap from his previous career high of 37 in 2009. He was one of five players to catch 100 or more passes in 2013. Among 60 wide receivers with at least 75 targets last season, Edelman’s 70.5 catch percentage was best in the league.

He also thrived in the slot position, recording over half of his receptions from there last season. Edeleman’s 53 slot receptions ranked third in the NFL, behind only Kendall Wright and Wes Welker.

Peppers picks the Packers

Julius Peppers could help bring some pass rush help back to the Green Bay Packers. The Packers sacked or put opposing quarterbacks under duress on 22.5 percent of dropbacks last season, tied for third worst in the NFL. However, the Packers tied with Peppers' former team, the Chicago Bears.

There are some questions on how effective Peppers can be at this point, especially as games progress. Peppers posted 7.0 sacks last season, tied for the second-lowest total of his career. He posted a sack for every 118.6 defensive snaps he was on the field last season, his worst rate in the last six seasons.

As a member of the Bears, Peppers was very disruptive in the first halves of games, recording 26.0 sacks. As the game wore on, however, Peppers' sack totals declined. All 7.0 of his sacks last season were in the first half.

Peppers has primarily played defensive end in a 4-3 scheme throughout his career. The Packers base defense is a 3-4. If the Packers have Peppers move to linebacker, it will be a relatively new experience for him. Since 2010, Peppers has logged a total of 19 snaps as a linebacker. He has played 3,328 total snaps over that time.

49ers ride Kaepernick's legs past Packers

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
12:52
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AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato Colin Kaepernick already is among the all-time leaders in postseason rushing yards by a quarterback.
The San Francisco 49ers’ 23-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers was the second game of the weekend’s Wild Card round to be decided on the final play of the game.

In the win over the Packers on Sunday, Colin Kaepernick rushed seven times for 98 yards. He had three rushes for 31 yards on third down (converting two), including an 11-yard third-down conversion late in the fourth quarter that set up the game-winning field goal by Phil Dawson.

The scramble increased the 49ers’ win probability by 19.8 percentage points, to 84.8 percent. It was the the largest win probability swing in the game.

Kaepernick’s rushing against the Packers increased the 49ers’ win probability by a total of 36 percentage points, the second-greatest increase attributable to a quarterback’s rushing in a playoff game since 2006. First is Kaepernick in last season’s playoff win against the Packers.


Strength vs strength
During the regular season, the San Diego Chargers boasted the NFL’s second-best road offense, adding 12.5 expected points per game; the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense added an NFL-high 11.3 expected points per game at home. EPA uses the result of every play to evaluate what each unit contributes to a team’s net scoring margin.

On Sunday in Cincinnati, the Chargers’ strength came out on top, as the offense added 8.2 expected points. This was only the second instance of the Bengals’ defense having a negative EPA at home this season.

Saints' running game delivers
The New Orleans Saints rushed for 185 yards in their win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday after averaging 92.1 rush yards per game in the regular season.

When running the ball in the regular season, the Saints added -1.6 expected points per game; on Saturday, the Saints added approximately 7.0 expected points on the ground. Had the Saints had a rushing performance similar to their regular season averages, and everything else had remained the same, they would have lost in Philadelphia.

Colts had (almost) no chance
Only one team since 2006 has successfully overcome a lower probability of winning a playoff game than the Indianapolis Colts did in their game Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

After the Chiefs received the second-half kickoff and scored a touchdown for a 38-10 lead, the Colts’ probability of winning was 0.86.

Andrew Luck completed 17 of 24 passes with three touchdowns in the second half to spark the Colts’ rally. He finished the game with a 93.5 Total QBR.

The only other team to win a playoff game after having a lower win probability was the Baltimore Ravens in the 2012 Divisional Playoffs. Trailing by seven with less than 90 seconds left, the Ravens forced the Denver Broncos to punt and took possession with a win probability of 0.74 percent. Jacoby Jones scored on a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown, and the Ravens won 38-35 in overtime.

Keys to victory: 49ers 23, Packers 20

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
8:40
PM ET
What were the keys to the San Francisco 49ers' 23-20 win over the Green Bay Packers?

Kaepernick’s scrambling ability
Colin Kaepernick had four scrambles for 85 yards, including one that got a first down on the 49ers final drive of the game.

That was the second-most scramble yards in a game this season (Russell Wilson had 91 against the Colts in Week 5).

Kaepernick finished with 98 rushing yards overall, his second-most in any game in his career (he had 181 against the Packers in the playoffs last season).

Kaepernick has 362 career rushing yards in postseason play, already the fifth-most among quarterbacks in NFL postseason history.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Kaepernick has two playoff games with at least 200 passing yards and 95 rushing yards. There have been only two other quarterbacks to have one such game—Otto Graham (in 1950 against the Rams) and Donovan McNabb (in 2003 against the Packers).

Crabtree and Davis make big impact
Michael Crabtree had a season-high eight catches for 125 yards. He has had at least 100 receiving yards in three of his last four postseason games.

Kaepernick was 5 for 6 for 95 yards on throws that targeted Crabtree more than 10 yards downfield, with one of those completions coming on the 49ers’ final drive.

The 49ers are 6-0 this season when Crabtree plays.

Vernon Davis caught his sixth touchdown pass in six career playoff games. That total is tied with Freddie Solomon and John Taylor for the second-most touchdown catches in 49ers history, trailing only Jerry Rice’s 19.

Pressuring Rodgers
The 49ers sacked or put Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers under duress on 14 of his 32 dropbacks (44 percent), despite sending five or more pass rushers on only three of Rodgers’ dropbacks (9 percent).

Rodgers was sacked four times (tied for his most in any game this season) and finished with 177 passing yards, his fewest in a postseason game.

Matchups to watch: 49ers at Packers

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
12:43
PM ET
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers knocked the Green Bay Packers out of the postseason on their way to the Super Bowl. The Packers look to return the favor at home in Sunday’s wild-card game. A few matchups to keep an eye on:

Colin Kaepernick versus Dom Capers

The talk heading into their Week 1 matchup this season was how Dom Capers would scheme against Colin Kaepernick after he ran for an NFL-quarterback record 181 yards against the Packers' defense last postseason.

The Packers held the 49ers to 10 yards on seven zone-read rushes in Week 1, but Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards. That included 350 from inside the pocket, which by itself would stand up as his career high.

Kaepernick has two of the four highest Total QBR games against the Packers in the last four seasons.

Kaepernick has been even better with his full complement of healthy receiving options.

Since Michael Crabtree returned in Week 13, Kaepernick has averaged nearly 50 more passing yards per game compared with his first 11 games, and his Total QBR of 73.3 ranks fourth in the NFL over the last five games.

Also, Capers will have to plan without Clay Matthews. Matthews had a season-high eight tackles, including three for a loss and a sack against the 49ers earlier this season.

Anquan Boldin vs. Packers' secondary

Anquan Boldin had 208 yards and a touchdown on 13 receptions against the Packers in Week 1, his most receiving yards since recording 217 in his NFL debut in 2003.

He was specifically a headache for the Packers out of bunch formations (three skill players clustered together, stacked on one side of the center). Boldin caught all five of his targets for 92 yards in those sets.

He also caught 4 of 5 third-down targets for 63 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.

That third-down success wasn't an aberration; Boldin ranked first in the NFL this season in third-down receptions (33), receiving yards (529) and first downs (27). Additionally, he caught 75 percent of his third-down targets, tied for the best catch percentage in the NFL among wide receivers (minimum 20 targets).

The bright lights won't intimidate Boldin. His 380 receiving yards in last year's postseason were the fourth most by a player in a single postseason under the current playoff format (since 1990).

Aaron Rodgers/Randall Cobb vs. 49ers’ secondary

Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb returned to the field against the Bears in a big way, hooking up for two touchdowns, including the game-winning score on fourth down with 46 seconds left.



Cobb played 37 of the Packers' 76 offensive snaps (48.7 percent) in that game, but made his only two targets of the game count. In fact, no quarterback and wide receiver combo has connected on a higher percentage of passes the last three seasons (minimum 150 attempts).

Rodgers was 7-of-9 passing with 108 yards and a touchdown targeting Cobb against the 49ers in Week 1, including 3-of-4 for 74 yards when he targeted Cobb at least 15 yards downfield.

The 49ers’ secondary has allowed a touchdown on such throws in four straight games, after allowing a total of two in their first 12 games this season.

This was also a weakness exposed last postseason when the 49ers allowed more touchdowns on throws at least 15 yards downfield (four) than in the entire 2012 regular season (two).

Did you know?

Temperatures are expected to be in the single digits. Since the start of 2008, his first year as a starter, Rodgers is 12-4 with the temperature at or below freezing and has the highest Total QBR (73.7) of any player to make at least three starts in such conditions.

Rodgers pulls dramatic win from likely loss

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
4:06
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers was conspicuous by his presence in the Packers’ victory over the Bears.
In his first game since he hurt his collarbone in a Week 9 loss to the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers on Sunday added to his lore.

His 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight with less than a minute left raised the Green Bay Packers’ win probability from 40.7 percent to 99.5 percent. After Cobb’s score, the Packers held on to beat the Bears and win the NFC North.

The fourth-down touchdown pass was the biggest play in terms of win probability added (58.8 percent) in Rodgers’ career and one of the biggest plays of the 2013 season. The Packers converted three fourth-down situations on their final drive, becoming the second team this season to convert three fourth-down plays on a drive (the Saints did so on a fourth-quarter drive in Week 15 against the Rams).

The Packers finished the season in wild fashion to make the playoffs. Their playoff chances were 5.5 percent after a 30-point loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Packers won three of their final four games, including a one-point victory over the Cowboys in which Green Bay overcame a 23-point halftime deficit and 1.7 percent win probability.

Another tide-turning pass for Cowboys
Kyle Orton followed a fourth-and-nine touchdown pass to Dez Bryant (which created a 23.5 percent win probability swing) with an interception that dropped the Dallas Cowboys’ win probability from 44.3 percent to 5.8 percent (-38.5 percent).

The Cowboys’ regular-season finale was a fitting conclusion to their season. Cowboys quarterbacks threw nine fourth-quarter passes that swung the team’s win probability by at least 20 percentage points in either direction, the most such passes of any team this season.

Chargers rewarded for risky decision
With the score tied in overtime of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers converted a fourth-and-two at their 28 on a fake punt. If the Chargers had not converted and been stopped for no gain, the Chiefs would have had the ball at the Chargers’ 28 needing a field goal to win. The Chargers’ win probability at that point would have dropped to 19.1 percent.

Since 2008, NFL teams have converted 18-of-27 fake punts (66.7 percent), including 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) fourth-down fake punts needing two or fewer yards.

Ryan Succop could have all but eliminated the Chargers from the playoff race with a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation. The Chiefs’ win probability was 61.3 percent before the kick, and Succop had been 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) in his career on field goals between 40 and 45 yards.

QBR shows Manning is consistently superior
Peyton Manning posted a 95.4 Total QBR against the Oakland Raiders, his fourth game with a Total QBR greater than 95.0 this season, most in the NFL.

Manning finished this season with a Total QBR of 82.9, his fourth season with a Total QBR greater than 80.0 since 2006 (as far back as we have data). The rest of the league’s quarterbacks have combined to post four such seasons during that span (min. 500 action plays).

Redskins finish with a new low in expected points
The Washington Redskins’ offense added -28.8 expected points to the team’s net scoring margin in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the New York Giants, Washington’s worst offensive output in a game since 2006.

Kirk Cousins was limited to a 38.8 completion percentage (19-of-49) and an average of 3.5 yards per attempt. Cousins and the offense were forced to punt on their first five possessions (four of them after three downs). Their only points came on field goals after short drives beginning at New York’s 18- and Washington’s 46-yard lines. Washington averaged 3.4 yards per play (its second-worst of the season) and committed four turnovers.

The Redskins are the only team this season to finish in the bottom 10 in offensive, defensive and special teams EPA.

On the flip side, the Giants’ defense had its best performance of the season. Defensive EPA takes into consideration how the defense keeps the opponent from moving the ball, forces turnovers and scores. By that measure, the Giants’ defense contributed 28.8 points to the team’s net scoring margin. It was the second-best defensive EPA performance by any team this season.

Likely combo makes an unlikely play

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
9:46
PM ET
The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs thanks to an improbable touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb.

How unlikely was that touchdown?

Rodgers entered that play 1 for 5 on fourth-and-eight or longer situations over the last five seasons.

The Chicago Bears sent five or more pass rushers on 16 of Rodgers’ first 40 dropbacks, including seven at Rodgers on the decisive play.

On the first 15 of those, Rodgers was 8 for 15 for 55 yards and two interceptions.

Rodgers was under duress on that play. He was 0 for 4 with an interception when under duress.

The Rodgers-Cobb combo has been one of the most valuable in the NFL when both were healthy.

The pair have connected on 77.1 percent of their passes since 2011, best of any quarterback-wide receiver duo with 150 attempts in that span.

Both of Rodgers’ touchdown passes to Cobb on Sunday were thrown from outside of the pocket. Rodgers has thrown a team-high five touchdowns to Cobb outside the pocket over the last three seasons, and has targeted him more than any other wide receiver.

The Bears were beaten by Rodgers and Cobb on pass that traveled 38 yards past the line of scrimmage. It was Rodgers’ first attempt 30 yards or more on the game.

This season, the Bears have allowed 8-of-15 passes (53.3 percent) thrown 30-plus yards to be completed. The league-average completion percentage on those passes is 29.6 percent.

The Packers win capped an unlikely course to postseason play. After Week 13, Numberfire’s simulations gave them only a six percent chance of making the playoffs. But from there, Green Bay’s hopes rose each week, culminating in the amazing finish on Sunday.


Matchups to watch: Packers at Bears

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
2:28
PM ET
The Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers in Week 17, with the winner taking home the NFC North division title and more importantly, a playoff berth.

Aaron Rodgers is expected to start for the first time since Week 9, when the Packers lost to the Bears by a touchdown after he was injured in the first quarter. Jay Cutler didn’t play in that game, and his 1-8 career record against the Packers could level the playing field.

Cutler’s checkered past against the Packers is just one of the key matchups to watch in the game.

Jay Cutler versus Dom Capers

Since joining the Bears, Cutler has thrown eight touchdowns and 17 interceptions against the Packers. Against the other NFC North foes, Cutler has thrown 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers joined the Packers the same season Cutler joined the Bears, and his schemes -- specifically the pass rushing tendencies -- have caused problems for Cutler.

Cutler has completed 49 percent of his passes with one touchdown and eight interceptions when the Packers have sent five or more pass rushers over the last five seasons.

One of the reasons these pass rushes have been so successful is that Capers brings added pressure when Cutler might not be expecting it. The Packers have sent five-plus 43 percent of the time on first down against Cutler, something the rest of the NFL has done only 29 percent of the time to Cutler.

However, Cutler has more support his season, leading to another key matchup:

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery versus Packers’ secondary

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are one of two sets of teammates with 1,000 receiving yards this season (Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker). In Week 9 against the Packers, the duo combined for 12 receptions, 167 yards and two touchdowns.

Marshall and Jeffery did a majority of their work on the right side of the field in that game (defense’s left), the side cornerback Tramon Williams predominantly works. The duo grabbed eight of their passes for 115 yards and both touchdowns on the right side of the field in the game.

The Packers’ secondary has struggled all season, allowing 28 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. The Packers have allowed no more than 29 touchdowns and recorded no fewer than 18 interceptions in any of the previous four seasons.

Packers run game vs Bears rush defense

The Packers nearly won in Week 9 without Rodgers due to the success of the run game. The Packers gained 199 yards on 29 rushes, including two touchdowns, in the game.

Eddie Lacy rushed 22 times for 150 yards against the Bears, but could be limited in Week 17 due to an ankle injury. Even if he is out, James Starks has been just as capable, averaging 5.2 yards per rush this season (6.7 in Week 9).

The Bears’ rush defense has only gotten worse as the season progresses. Prior to the Packers game the Bears were allowing 4.0 yards per rush, but have since allowed a whopping 6.5 yards per rush. To put that into perspective, no team has allowed more 5.3 yards per rush in a season over the last 10 years.

Cowboys pay for Romo's costly picks

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
2:16
AM ET

AP Photo/James D. SmithTony Romo threw two interceptions in the final three minutes against the Packers
Leading 36-31 late in Sunday's game, the Dallas Cowboys appeared in good position to win and pull into a tie for the NFC East lead. Two plays went a long way toward changing that.

Tony Romo’s interception with 1:24 left in the 4th quarter against the Packers dropped the Cowboys’ win probability by 51.1 percentage points, the 2nd-most costly 4th-quarter interception in his career in terms of win probability (the most costly was Darrelle Revis’ interception of Romo in 2011; see chart below). His interception earlier in the quarter dropped the Cowboys’ win probability by 17.5 percentage points (from 88.6% to 71.1%) and set up the Packers' go-ahead touchdown.

Romo has thrown 7 career 4th-quarter interceptions that have dropped his team’s win probability by at least 20 percentage points (the Cowboys have lost all 7 games). Using that definition of a costly interception, only Matt Schaub (8) has thrown more than Romo since 2006.

Cowboys’ defense non-existent
The Cowboys’ defense contributed -22.8 expected points to the team’s net scoring margin in the 2nd half against the Packers. That is the worst defensive EPA by any team in the 2nd half of a game this season.

The Packers scored a touchdown on each of their 2nd-half drives, excluding their final drive, which was 3 kneel downs. The Packers got first downs on 47 percent of their 2nd-half plays and converted 6-of-7 third downs during that span.

The Cowboys’ defensive EPA is -6.8 points per game this season. Only the Vikings (-8.0) have been worse.

EPA looks at the impact of every play on each team's potential points, attributing those to the actual unit on the field – offense, defense or special teams. When aggregated over the course of a game or season, EPA numbers show how much each unit contributed to the team's final point margin. EPA takes into account each unit’s impact on moving the ball, creating turnovers and scoring points.

Cutler good when it counts
Jay Cutler had a 99.9 Total QBR in the 4th quarter, completing 5-of-7 passes for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Bears’ 38-31 win over the Browns. Cutler's Total QBR in the 4th quarter this season is 95.2, 1st in the NFL among qualified QBs.

Cutler overcame 2 costly interceptions in the game. His 1st interception, thrown into the end zone on 1st and 10 at the Browns’ 14, cost the Bears an expected 4.9 points. Combined with his pick-six in the second quarter, Cutler cost the Bears 11.0 expected points with his 2 interceptions.

Saints leave offense at home
The Saints' offense contributed 6.0 expected points to their net scoring margin against the Rams, almost doubling their offensive EPA on the road this season (now at 13.3, 15th in NFL). Their offense has added 104.9 expected points at home this season, and no team averages more per game.

Drew Brees’ Total QBR was 35.5 against the Rams and is 55.8 on the road (12th in NFL) this season. It is 80.3 at home (2nd in NFL).

Quick hitters
Eli Manning’s Total QBR was 2.1 against the Seahawks, his worst Total QBR in a game since the start of the 2006 season. Manning threw a career-high 5 interceptions, and converted one of nine third downs. Manning’s Total QBR this season is 36.0, more than 10 points worse than his previous low (46.2, 2006).

Matt Cassel posted a career-high 96.3 Total QBR (min. 15 action plays) against the Eagles. Brett Favre (97.5) is the only Vikings quarterback to post a higher Total QBR in a game since 2006 (44-7 win in Week 17, 2009, vs Giants).

The Rams’ special teams added 6.4 expected points against the Saints. They blocked a field goal attempt by Garrett Hartley, and Hartley missed another field goal wide left late in the game. The Rams’ special teams unit has added 2.4 expected points per game this season, 2nd in the NFL behind the Chiefs (3.0).

Carson Palmer posted an 86.6 Total QBR against the Titans. His Total QBR is 77.6 since Week 8, 2nd-best in the NFL behind Josh McCown (Cardinals: 6-1 during that span).

The Chiefs’ offensive EPA was 21.2 against the Raiders, their 2nd-highest total in a game since the start of the 2006 season. The Chiefs’ offense added 20.3 expected points from Jamaal Charles’ 5 touchdowns (over 95% of their offensive EPA). Charles’ last touchdown added 6.2 expected points. EPA is measured on a play-by-play basis, taking the difference between what the expected points an average team would be expected to score in that same situation (based on historical NFL data), from their expected points after the play, and adding them up through the course of a game.

Keys to victory: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
8:58
PM ET
What were the keys to the Green Bay Packers' improbable comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday?

The Cowboys chose not to run with the lead
The Cowboys entered the second half with a 26-3 lead and DeMarco Murray had 93 yards rushing on 11 carries.

Despite the big lead and success on the ground, the Cowboys ran by design on only seven of their 30 second-half plays (23 percent).

The league-average play call when leading this season is 53 percent pass, 47 percent run. The Cowboys entered Sunday with the second-lowest run percentage when ahead—37 percent.

The Cowboys averaged just as many yards on rushes as dropbacks in the first half. In the second half, the Cowboys averaged 1.9 yards more on rushes.

Packers perfection
The Packers scored a touchdown on all five of their second-half drives.

They are the fourth team with five touchdowns in a half this season, joining the Eagles, Chiefs and Broncos, who did it twice.

The Cowboys allowed five touchdowns in a half for the first time since a 49-21 loss to the Eagles in the 2004 season.

The key to this was that the Packers went 6 of 7 on third down in the second half, with the only “failed” conversion being Matt Flynn's kneeldown to end the game.

The Packers went 1 of 6 on third down in the first half, with the only conversion being a screen pass on the final play of the half

Flynn was 5 for 5 for 75 yards and a touchdown on his third-down passes in the final 30 minutes.

Eddie Lacy rushed for 110 yards on 13 carries in the second half, including a 60-yard run on the first play of the third quarter. He had seven straight runs in the fourth quarter that gained at least three yards, prior to his one-yard touchdown run.

Romo’s interceptions
Tony Romo threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter, one with the lead and one that clinched the game for the Packers.

This is the seventh time Romo has thrown a pick in the fourth quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by one possession. That is nearly twice as many as any other QB since 2006 (when Romo became the starter in Dallas).

Romo is now tied with Tom Brady for the most 4th-quarter interceptions this season (four) when the score is within five points.

How unusual was the first pass resulting in an interception that Romo threw, one that came on a second-down situation?

Since 2001, teams have rushed the ball 95 percent of the time (3,061 rushes on 3,234 snaps) on first or second down when leading by one to seven points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.

The significance of the comeback
This marked the first time in franchise history that the Cowboys lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points at the half. Entering Sunday, they were 42-0 in such games.

The 23-point comeback tied the Packers' largest comeback in franchise history (Sept. 12, 1982 against the Rams. They trailed 23-0 and won 35-23).

Offensive Rookie of the Year favorites

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
9:53
AM ET

Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsGiovani Bernard has emerged as one of the front-runners for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

As we close in on the end of the NFL regular season, ESPN Stats & Info looks at some of the leading candidates for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

RB Giovani Bernard, Bengals
Bernard has been a dual-threat back for the Cincinnati Bengals in his rookie season. The 37th overall pick has three receiving touchdowns, more than all other rookie backs combined this season.

The Bengals' offense has noticeably improved with Bernard on the field this season. Bernard has been especially effective in the red zone. His 4.6 yards per rush in the red zone is the highest by a rookie since Adrian Peterson (4.8) in 2007.

WR Keenan Allen, Chargers
Allen, who fell to the San Diego Chargers at 76th overall in the draft due to a knee injury, leads rookie receivers in receptions (61) and receiving yards (902). Allen is on pace to post the most receptions and receiving yards by a rookie receiver in the last five seasons (A.J. Green finished with 65 receptions for 1,057 yards as a rookie in 2011).

Not only does Allen lead rookies in standard receiving categories, he also boasts the best catch rate among rookie receivers (70 percent).

RB Eddie Lacy, Packers
Eddie Lacy
Lacy
Since his return from a concussion in Week 5, Lacy leads the league in rushing yards after contact (441). Last season, the Green Bay Packers averaged only 1.4 yards after contact per rush, the fourth fewest in the league.

One of Lacy’s biggest impact areas comes on third and fourth down. The Packers convert on 50 percent (41-of-82) of their third downs and 100 percent (5-of-5) of their fourth downs when Lacy is on the field. Without Lacy, the Packers convert only 29 percent (26-of-89) of their third downs and 20 percent (1-of-5) of their fourth downs this season.

Honorable mention
• RB Andre Ellington, Cardinals
• WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings

Keys to victory: rushing and pass rush

November, 28, 2013
11/28/13
6:24
PM ET

Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsReggie Bush had more yards from scrimmage than the Packers offense in Thursday's win.

The Detroit Lions made a statement with their 40-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Most notably, it snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak, which was the longest such losing streak in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was also just the Lions' fourth 30-point win in 75 all-time Thanksgiving games, and the first since a 35-point win over the Chicago Bears in 1997.

The Lions finished with a 435-yard advantage over the Packers in total offense (561-126). That’s their largest single-game yard margin in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Lions running backs Reggie Bush (182) and Joique Bell (128) both finished with more yards from scrimmage than the entire Packers offense.

The yardage discrepancy was especially evident in the rushing game. The Lions finished with 241 rushing yards, the Packers had 24 and were held without a rushing first down for the first time since 1990. Lions rushers were hit in the backfield twice on 40 designed rushes. On the other side, Packers rushers were hit in the backfield on five of their 13 designed rushes.

Much like the rushing game, the Lions pass rush was excellent, recording seven sacks on Matt Flynn, including one for a safety. Only two teams have recorded more sacks in a game this season than the Lions today: the Chiefs (nine vs. the Raiders in Week 6) and the Jets (eight vs. the Bills in Week 3).

Of course, Lions WR Calvin Johnson was his usual self, with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown. He has caught a touchdown in five straight and six of his seven career Thanksgiving Day games. It’s his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season, most in the NFL, although Jimmy Graham and A.J. Green could match him this week.

Detroit picked up the win despite four turnovers, becoming the first team to win by at least 30 despite having four or more turnovers since the 2001 Rams, who beat the Panthers by 34 even with four turnovers. Those Rams finished 14-2 and went to the Super Bowl.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Lions all season long, as a -1 turnover differential Thursday dropped them to -8 on the season. But a team making the playoffs despite a turnover differential that bad isn’t unprecedented by any means.

Each of the last three seasons, at least one team with a turnover differential of -8 or worse has made the playoffs, including the Indianapolis Colts last season (-12). However, none of those teams advanced past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

What the Packers will be missing

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
11:23
AM ET

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesSince 2008 Aaron Rodgers has 185 touchdown passes and a Total QBR of 74.0, both second in the NFL.


Aaron Rodgers will miss some time due to a fractured collarbone, his offensive contributions to the Green Bay Packers will be hard to replace.

What they’ll miss
Since Rodgers became Green Bay’s starting quarterback in Week 1 of 2008 the Packers have a win percentage of .663 (his record is 57-29). That win percentage is the sixth-best among qualified NFL quarterbacks during that span.

The Packers have made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, tied for the second longest active streak in the NFL (only the Baltimore Ravens have more with five).

Since 2008, Rodgers has tossed 185 touchdown passes and posted a Total QBR of 74.0, both second in the league. Also over that span Rodgers has 18 rushing touchdowns. Only Cam Newton (26) has more in that time frame.

The replacement
Seneca Wallace took over for Rodgers after the injury in Monday’s game. He is 6-15 in his career as a starter. The last time he started and won a game was October 3, 2010 when he led the Cleveland Browns to a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Among active quarterbacks with at least 20 starts, only Blaine Gabbert and Brady Quinn have a lower win percentage than Wallace (.286).

Altering plan of attack
Without Rodgers the Packers should lean more on their renewed ground attack. Four of Green Bay’s top-five rushing performances over the last five seasons have come this year.

The Packers have had an 80-yard rusher in each of their last seven games, the longest single-season streak in franchise history.

Since Eddy Lacy returned from a concussion in Week 5 he has the most rushing yards in the NFL. His 454 yards are 74 more than the second place back, Zac Stacy of the St. Louis Rams.

Injury bug rampant in Green Bay
Rodgers joins a laundry list of notable Packers that have suffered injuries this season. Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, James Jones and Jermichael Finley have all missed time this season with an assortment of injuries.

Keys to victory: Bears 27, Packers 20

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
12:17
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The injury to Aaron Rodgers was among the biggest factors in the matchup between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. But what did Chicago do best in this win from a statistical perspective?

Forte comes through
Matt Forte picked the right day for his best game of the season, rushing 24 times for 125 yards and a touchdown. It was his second career rushing touchdown in 10 games against the Packers. His only previous score against them came in Week 16 of his rookie season, 2008.

Forte had 80 rushing yards before contact, his most in a game since Week 4 of 2011 against the Carolina Panthers (147).

McCown up to the challenge, Wallace struggles in relief
Jon Gruden praised Josh McCown's preparedness multiple times during the "Monday Night Football" broadcast as the Bears backup quarterback earned his first win as a starter since beating the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 1, 2012.

McCown established a connection with Brandon Marshall similar to that of injured starting quarterback Jay Cutler.

Seven of McCown’s completions on throws more than 10 yards downfield went to Marshall.

Marshall had his 10th game with at least 100 receiving yards since joining the Bears in 2012, tied for second-most in the NFL in that span.

The Bears finished with 442 yards on offense, their most in a win at Lambeau Field.

Packers backup Seneca Wallace struggled after coming in for Rodgers. Wallace's 7.7 Total QBR was the worst by any quarterback in the NFL this week. The Packers had 113 net passing yards, their fewest in a game since they had 110 against the Vikings in Week 10 of the 2008 season.

Milking the clock
The Bears executed their last offensive drive in near-perfect fashion, keeping the Packers off the field until there was less than a minute left in the game.

The Bears ran 18 plays for 80 yards, in a drive that lasted 8 minutes, 58 seconds. It was nearly two full minutes longer than the Bears’ longest drive this season. The 18 plays were the most they’ve run on one drive in any game in the past four seasons.

Stats to know
The Bears snapped a six-game losing streak against the Packers and won at Lambeau Field for the first time since 2007.

The loss was the Packers' first regular-season home loss in November or later since 2009 (had won 17 straight). They had won their previous 10 home games overall.

Top stats to know: Bears at Packers

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
1:12
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Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Getty ImagesThe Green Bay Packers have won 10 straight home games against the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will continue their rivalry and will determine if the NFC North will become a logjam at the top at the season’s midway point on Monday Night Football (8 ET/ESPN). A Bears win turns the race into a three-way tie. A Packers win would keep them in sole possession of first place.

Here are five stats to know heading into tonight’s game.

1. The Packers have won five straight games against the Bears and 10 straight home games overall. They also haven’t lost a regular-season home game in November or later since 2009.

This is the 11th time these teams have met on Monday Night Football, having split the first 10 meetings, but the first time the Bears and Packers have played a Monday night game in Green Bay since 1997. The Bears have won the last two Monday Night Football meetings between the teams, each by a score of 20-17.

2. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Aaron Rodgers' .800 win percentage (8-2) against the Bears is the best by any quarterback with at least 10 starts in the Bears-Packers rivalry (Brett Favre ranks second, .688 win percentage).

3. A potential key to this game could be how effective the Packers are at throwing the deep ball. Rodgers has completed 50 percent of his throws that went at least 20 yards downfield in 2013 (16-of-32). That rate is tied with Russell Wilson for the best mark in the NFL (min. 15 attempts).

The Bears are allowing opponents to complete 57 percent of their throws of that distance, the second-worst mark in the NFL entering Week 9. Last season, opponents completed only 29 percent of their throws of at least 20 yards downfield against the Bears defense.

4. The Packers’ running game has come alive this season and has become a major threat. Three of Green Bay's top four rushing performances over the last five seasons have come in the last five games. Green Bay has had an 80-yard rusher in each of the last six games, the longest streak in a single season in franchise history.

5. The Bears will be without starting QB Jay Cutler who injured his groin Week 7 against the Redskins. Since the Bears acquired him in 2009, they are 2-6 in games started by other QBs, while averaging nearly 10 points fewer than when Cutler is in the lineup. Chicago quarterbacks not named Jay Cutler have combined to throw eight touchdowns and 21 interceptions over that span.

Dalton > Rodgers down the stretch

September, 22, 2013
9/22/13
9:05
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AP Photo/Tom UhlmanAndy Dalton and company took a little while to get going, but managed to beat the Packers.


What was the key to the Cincinnati Bengals’ 34-30 win over the Green Bay Packers?

In what was a topsy-turvy game, the Bengals won because they took advantage of a late turnover and the Packers failed to take advantage of early Bengals mistakes.

But along with that was the work of the quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers had a rare bad day. Andy Dalton rose to the challenge late in the game, particularly once the Packers lost Clay Matthews to injury.

Packers’ wide receivers slowed by Bengals
Rodgers completed 79 percent of his throws the first two weeks when targeting a wide receiver, but the Bengals were able to hold him to 18-for-30 when throwing to one in this game.

The Bengals limited the Packers’ wide receivers Sunday, holding them to 47 yards after the catch. Last week against the Redskins, Packers wide receivers gained 178 yards after the catch.

Rodgers had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter Sunday, including his final attempt on 4th-and-5 with 1:25 remaining.

Rodgers had only one game in the last five seasons with three passes batted down prior to Sunday.

This was the first time in 36 games that Rodgers had more interceptions in a game than he had touchdown throws.

Dalton picked apart the Packers
Dalton completed 11-of-13 passes against four or fewer pass rushers (a career-best 84.6 percent), including all nine attempts in the second half.

Opponents entered the game completing 71 percent of their passes against the Packers’ standard rush, the seventh-highest rate in the league.

Dalton went 0-for-2 with an interception and a pass defended targeting A.J. Green in the first half. In the second half none of Dalton’s attempts to Green were disrupted by a Packers defender. He was 4-for-6 for 46 yards and a touchdown when throwing to Green.

Did You Know?
Rodgers is now 5-17 as a starting quarterback in games decided by four points or less.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day
The Bengals are the first team to win a game in which they allowed 30 straight points since the Cowboys beat the Redskins in Week 1 of the 1999 season.

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