Week 18. Lambeau Field. Sunday Night Football. A chance to keep K-Aaron Rodgers out of the playoffs. Who would have thought it would come down to this in the preseason or Halloween? We are no longer jealous of the cheeseheads. They now tremble in fear and finally have the green envy to go with their stinky yellow dairy product. It is time for their dynasty to die, and for ours to rise to the top to become Kings of the North.
Green Bay Packers:
Record/Standing: 8-8-0 (3rd in NFC North, 9th seed in the NFC)
Expected W/L: 8.1-7.9
Strength of Schedule: .528
Overall DVOA: 4.8% (12th)
K-Aaron drops back to pass the ball on average 33.3 times a game, attempting 31.4 passes for 20.3 completions (64.6% completion rate). These passes go for 210.6 yards (6.8 yards per attempt), 1.4 TDs and 0.7 INTs. His completion rate is -1.7% under expectation (25th in the league), though this could be drawn up to how poor his receivers were performing earlier in the season. However, according to Football Outsiders' efficiency metrics, Rodgers has not been living up to his back-to-back MVP awards. He is 17th in DYAR (389), 20th in DVOA (-0.4%), 11th in EYds (3,451), and 8th in ALEX (2.1), so perhaps he should shoulder more of the blame than most people, including the media and Rodgers himself, think. This is backed up by his -0.09 EPA per dropback (20th), 91.0 passer rating (16th) and 39.6 QBR (27th). Therefore, one could suggest that those Lions fans still of a nervous disposition when it comes to ARod can R-E-L-A-X as he is no longer the bogeyman he once was for us. Goff has objectively been the better QB this year, and I will die on that hill if I need to.
Green Bay's OL is ranked 2nd in the run game by Football Outsiders as they create 4.90 adjusted line yards, along with 4.74 RB yards (8th). They have a 68% power success rate (15th), and a 13% stuffed rate (1st), and get 1.46 second-level yards (1st) and 0.66 open field yards (20th). They also average 1.57 yards before contact per attempt (9th), 0.35 rushing yards over expected per rush (17th), and have an overall rushing success rate of 44.2% (11th). Given they run the Shanahan tackles zone scheme, it is not a surprise that they run the ball outside the tackles (52.7%) more than between the tackles. Therefore, it will be down to our edges to set contain well for the LBs to crash down and get TFLs. In pass protection, GB is FO's 7th best OL with a 5.7% adjusted sack rate. They give their QB a time to throw of 2.7 seconds (26th), but a time to pressure of 3.42 seconds (4th). They give up pressure on 19% of dropbacks (2nd) and have a sack-allowed rate of 5.3% (8th). Given they did put up the numbers they did last week against the Bears' 32nd-ranked offensive line (emphasis on the offensive), there is no denying that our DL is fully in-form and primed to make things hard for Rodgers and his backfield. While I am not expecting the same result as last week, we can certainly still get to Rodgers and sack him.
The scarier Aaron on Green Bay's team is somehow their running back. Aaron Jones. He totes the ball 12.0 times a game for 61.1 yards (5.3 yards per carry, 0.50 rushing yards over expected per attempt, and 3.3 yards after contact per attempt). He gets 3.25 first downs and 0.1 TDs a game but also fumbles 0.2 times a game (losing half of these). Therefore, he is just as likely to lose a fumble than score, which bodes well for our turnover-creating defence. 1.7 of his runs a game go for more than 10 yards, and he reaches a speed of 15+ MPH on 3.9 of his weekly runs. He creates 0.02 EPA per carry, with a 44.0% rushing success and an NGS rushing efficiency of 3,915.1. Jones is FO's best RB by DVOA (20.4%), 4th by DYAR (241) and 6th by EYds (1,108). His backfield partner Dillon gets 10.8 handoffs a game, which he takes for 44..9 yards (4.2 yards per carry, 0.04 yards over expected per carry, and 3.3 yards after contact per carry). He scores 0.4 TDs a game, also creating 2.75 first downs. 0.9 of his weekly runs go for more than 10 yards, and he hits a speed over 15 MPH on 0.9 of his runs a game. Dillon makes -0.04 EPA per carry from a 45.0% rushing success and an NGS rushing efficiency of 2,559.1. Per FO, he is 8th in DVOA (9.5%), 7th in DYAR (142) and 15th in EYds (902). Looking at these stats, they show that Green Bay's backfield can get yards but not TDs. Therefore they could by their own nature allow us to deploy a bend but don't break defence against them.
Given their years of playing together, it is not a surprise that Lazard is the most targeted receiver on the Packers' roster. He is targeted on 22% of his routes run for 6.7 targets a game, 4.0 catches (60%, 1.0% catch rate under expected), 53.4 yards (13.3 yards per reception), 0.2 drops, 3 first downs, 0.4 TDs, 0.1 EPA per target and an 80.4 passer rating when targeted. He averages 3.6 yards of separation on his targets. By FO, he is the 34th WR by DVOA (4.0%), 28th by DYAR (126), and 33rd by EYds (803). Rookie receiver out of NDSU Christian Watson is thrown at on 26% of his routes run for 4.6 targets, 2.8 catches (60%, 0% catch rate over expected), 39.0 yards (14.1 yards per reception), 0.3 drops, 1.8 first downs, 0.5 TDs, 0.5 EPA per target and a 126.2 passer rating, while averaging 3.9 yards of separation. Watson is 31st in DVOA (4.9%), 41st in DYAR (88) and 57th in EYds (539). On the other hash mark, fellow rookie Romeo Doubs is targeted on 22% of his route run, with an average of 3.7 yards of separation, garnering 5.4 targets for 3.5 catches (65% catch rate, 4% catch rate under expected), 35.4 yards (10.1 yards per reception), 0.3 drops, 1.6 first downs, 0.3 TDs, -0.1 EPA per target and a 98.6 passer rating. Doubs is FO's 72nd WR by DVOA (-16.7%), 71st in DYAR (-20), and 73rd in EYds (377).
At tight end, they have the former Lions DL Tonyan. He is targeted on 21% of his routes run, with an average of 3.9 yards of separation, for 4.0 targets, 3.1 catches (78% catch rate, 3% catch rate over expected), 27.6 yards (8.8 yards per reception), 0.1 drops, 1.2 first downs, 0.1 TDs, 0 EPA per target and a 92.8 passer rating when targeted. Per FO, he is the 23rd TE by DVOA (2.3%), 22nd in DYAR (40) and 15th in EYds (444). Coming out of the backfield, Jones is thrown at on 24% of his route run, getting an average of 4.1 yards of separation, garnering 4.1 targets a game, which he converts into 3.3 catches (82% catch rate, 2% catch rate under expected), 21.1 yards (6.4 yards per reception), 0.3 drops, 1.2 first downs, 0.3 TDs, -0.1 EPA per target and a 114.2 passer rating when thrown at. While Jones and Lazard seem to be Rodgers' favourite targets, they fail to do much with the ball. The main focus in the pass game should be trying to prevent the deep ball to Doubs and Watson, forcing Rodgers to go short to his favoured (but unathletic) players, thus stifling their passing attack.
Unsurprisingly, their most common personnel set is 11, which they use on 58% of their offensive plays. From this set, they pass on 70% of snaps and create 0.01 EPA per play. The only other set they use on more than 10% is 12, which they use on 30% of their offensive snaps. From this personnel, they run the ball on 58% of plays and make 0.06 EPA per play. Overall, they pass the ball on 58% of their offensive plays, creating -0.06 EPA per pass play (17th), 0.02 EPA per rush (8th) and -0.03 EPA per offensive play (17th).
The way to stop the Packers' offence is simple: break their run game and force Rodgers to pass the ball. He is no longer a top 3 QB, he's arguably not even top 10 anymore. Make the old man ask for the manager as we force them to put the ball in his hands on third-and-longs, pin our ears back and sack him so many times he thinks he's in Santa's sleigh a few weeks ago (or, for our English readers, he's in a Post Office regional distribution centre after the recent postal strikes). If we can stop Jones and Dillon, and slow down Watson and Doubs, they'll have to dink and dunk their way down the field, making it more likely they make a mistake and we get to take the ball away from them.
Per FO, the Packers are the worst run defence in the league. They allow 5.13 line-adjusted yards (32nd) and 4.95 RB yards (27th). They allow a 66% power success rate (11th), stuff 13% of the runs against them (30th), and give up 1.44 second-level yards (29th) and 0.80 open field yards (19th). They allow 5.0 yards per carry (28th), 0.96 of which are above expected (28th) and 1.87 of which is before first contact (30th). The Packers have given up 54 rushes of 10+ yards (25th). This poor run defence could be because they deploy a light box on 45.8% of rushing plays against them (11th), and a stacked box on 18.5% of plays (22nd). Because of this, teams favour running outside than going between the tackles when facing the Packers, running outside on 53.6% of runs. This is perfect for Jamaal and Swift to tear them some new holes where the sun doesn't shine. Hell, make them cry with a double reverse with a fake handoff to Jamo before popping a pass to Leaf.
FO ranks Green Bay's pass rush as the 20th in the league with a 6.9% adjusted sack rate. They allow opposing QBs 2.82 seconds to throw (24th), with a time to pressure of 3.20 seconds (28th). Their average get-off of 0.85 seconds ranks 18th in the league, and their 6.5% sack rate ranks 19th. These numbers suggest that the Packers are a mid to below-average pass rush. However, they have a pressure rate of 32.0%, which is the 4th best in the league. The Packers' leader in pressures is Smith, who has 2.7 a game, 0.7 of which are "quick" and 0.6 of which are turned into sacks. He gets pressure on 12% of his pass rush stats, and a sack on 2% of these snaps. Behind him in pressures, but either beside him or in front of him on the field depending on the formation, is Clark. He creates 2.6 pressures a game, 0.5 of which are "quick", and 0.3 are converted into sacks. He has a pressure rate of 11% and a sack rate of 1%. Overall, this Green Bay pass rush does not make me green with envy. At this moment, I would take our red-hot DL over theirs on any day of the week that ends with "y".
The Packers' coverage unit has allowed 123 yards after the catch over expected this season, which is the 5th best in the league, but has allowed an average of 3.5 yards of separation on targets which is 17th. The most targeted member of their secondary is their "great" cornerback Jaire Alexander. He is the nearest defender on 21.3% of his coverage snaps, allowing an average of 2.6 yards of separation, and getting targeted 5.1 times a game for 2.9 catches (57% catch rate allowed, 3% below expected), 34.7 yards (12.1 yards per catch), 0.20 TDs, 0.33 interceptions, 3.1 yards after the catch per reception, -0.32 EPA per target and a passer rating of 62.5 in coverage. On the other side of the field, Douglas is targeted on 17.7% of his coverage snaps, allowing 2.8 yards of separation over average, for 4.4 targets, 2.9 receptions (66% catch rate, 1% over expected), 33.3 yards (11.6 yards per catch), 0.3 TDs, 0.25 interceptions, 4.1 yards after the catch per reception, 0.05 EPA per target and a passer rating of 88.5. Facing off against the Sun God will be Nixon, who is definitely a regen of early career Jamal Agnew. He is targeted on 20% of his coverage snaps and allows an average of 4.0 yards of separation. He is thrown at 2.3 times a game, though he has only recently become the nickel starter after Joe Barry (yes, that Joe Barry) gave their secondary a bit of a shake-up, so this number might be skewed, and so I will refer to his season-long stats. He has been targeted 27 times, allowing 19 catches (70% catch rate, 1% under expectation), 206 yards (10.8 yards per catch), 0 TDs, 1 INT, 5.7 yards after the catch per reception, -0.10 EPA per target and a 77.1 passer rating.
Further forward, and likely matched up on our tight end crew and our beasts in the backfield, is Campbell. He is targeted on 19.4% of his coverage snaps and allows an average of 4.7 yards of separation. He is thrown at 4.3 times a game for 3.3 catches (78% catch rate, 0% above expected), 28.1 yards (8.4 yards per catch), 0.1 TDs, 0.2 interceptions, 5.1 yards after the catch per reception, -0.09 EPA per target and an 88.4 passer rating. Further back, Amos is their most targeted safety. He is targeted on 9.9% of his coverage snaps, allowing 3.1 yards of separation on average. He allows 1.8 receptions on 2.6 targets (69% catch rate, 4% over expected), 22.3 yards (12.4 yards per reception), 0.1 TDs, 0.1 INTs, 3.6 yards after the catch per reception, 0.14 EPA per target and a 102.0 passer rating in coverage. Overall, this secondary can be picked on, especially if Chark draws Jaire in coverage, allowing the other outside receiver some looks, as well as leaving the middle vulnerable to play action and the wrath of our Sun God.
The most common personnel set for the Packers on defence is 245 nickel, which they deploy on 55% of snaps. In this set, they face a pass on 65% of these plays for 0.02 EPA per play. They use 344 base on 22% of plays, facing a run on 65% of these snaps and allowing 0 EPA per play. The other personnel set they use on more than 10% of defensive plays is 335 nickel, used on 12% of plays for 0.21 EPA per play, being ran on 54% of these plays. Overall, the Packers face a pass on 51.3% of their defensive plays, allowing 0.07 EPA per rush (31st), -0.07 EPA per pass play (14th) and 0.1 EPA per play (26th).
For me, the best way to attack this team is to run the ball on them like they're a treadmill and we're me trying to desperately lose the fat I put on over the holiday period. Not only is this preying on their biggest weakness, but it also will set up the invaluable play-action game and make it so Amon-Ra is matched up with a safety or linebacker. Despite the preseason hype, this defence is nothing special and we should not be afraid of it.
Crosby is Crosby, just a mediocre part of the furniture for this rivalry.
O'Donnell has had the misfortune of being on two of the other teams in the NFC North and yet is still not better than the FPOS god that is Fox.
Nixon scares me, to be honest; he is in form and we have not been the best on kickoff coverage this year.
Keys to Victory:
Stop the running heartbeat of their team
Limit big plays to their outside receivers
Run the ball down their throats
Exploit the middle of their coverage
Goff- 25/38, 265 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 92.5 passer rating
Williams- 15 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD; 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards
St. Brown- 7 targets, 6 catches, 75 yards
Houston- 3 tackles (2 solo), 1 TFL; 4 pressures, 1.5 sacks
Anzalone- 7 tackles (5 solo), 0.5 TFLs; 1 pressure; 1 PD
Jacobs- 3 tackles (all solo); 2 PDs, 1 INT
Rodgers- 25/40, 235 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 76.6 passer rating; 2 carries, 10 yards
Jones- 13 carries, 60 yards, 1 TD; 5 targets, 3 catches, 30 yards
Lazard- 6 targets, 4 catches, 50 yards
Clark- 2 tackles (1 solo), 0.5 TFLs; 3 pressures
Smith- 4 tackles (2 solo), 0.5 TFLs; 2 pressures, 0.5 sacks
Alexander- 4 tackles (3 solo); 1 PD
Hot take- The records continue to fall as Jamaal breaks Barry's single-season franchise rushing TD record and becomes our first 1000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013, and the team as a whole breaks the rookie team sack record
Score: Lions 31, Packers 24
How do you think the game will go? Who will win this week and potentially earn that last playoff spot? Will we finally shut up all the stupid cheeseheads? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?
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