Lions visit Packers den Sunday

FOX Football Insider
Football insider

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Aaron Rodgers’ had the best performance of his career in an opening game last Sunday as the Packers rolled up 523 yards and 43 points against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, sans fans in the stands.

Rodgers displayed stellar accuracy and efficiency (127.5 QB rating) in completing 32 of 44 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns.  And those impressive totals could have been even higher if not for several dropped catchable passes.

The 36-year-old quarterback came out firing in his 16th NFL season and proved he’s still among the NFL’s elite signal-callers.

“Aaron Rodgers is one of the best in the game,” said former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka.  “If there were any questions, they were answered last Sunday.

“He could very well have the same type of performance against Detroit.  Don’t care how old he is, he can make all the throws and he’s more comfortable in the offense.  I think he’s going to have a hell of a season.”

Sunday at Lambeau Field, sans fans in the stands, Rodgers and Green Bay (1-0) face the Detroit Lions (0-1) in their season debut at Lambeau Field.  Against Minnesota, two key items were in Rodgers’ favor:  no crowd noise and inexperienced cornerbacks.

The game will be televised exclusively at 12 noon in Western Wisconsin by FOX 25/48, with the Packers Blitz Live postgame show to follow.

Against Detroit, there will be no fan noise and the Lions starting cornerbacks are beset with hamstring issues.

“Rodgers can cut up a secondary real fast, and he has Aaron Jones and a good running game too,” Ditka said.  “Detroit will have their hands full.  They lost a tough one to the Bears.  They have to regroup and go into Lambeau and try to get a win.  There are no easy ones in that division.  You have to earn every win.  As Rodgers goes, so go the Packers.”

Here’s a look back at some of Rodgers’ best opening-game performances:

Packers 24, Vikings.  September 8, 2008.  Lambeau Field.

In Rodgers’ debut as a starter, he proved he could run and throw.  He completed 18 of 22 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, but extended drives and kept the Minnesota defense off-balance with eight rushes for 35 yards.

Rodgers scored the game-clinching 1-yard sneak with 6:03 remaining and was given a game ball for his performance.  He registered a 115.5 quarterback rating with no interceptions.

Packers 42, Saints 34.  September 8, 2011.  Lambeau Field.

The defending Super Bowl champion Packers kicked off the season on a Thursday night with a much-hyped match-up between Rodgers and Drew Brees.  This wild shootout went down to the final play, when the Green Bay defense stuffed Mark Ingram short of the goal line to preserve the victory.

The quarterback battle did not disappoint, with Brees throwing for 419 yards and three touchdowns and Rodgers completing 27 of 35 attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns.

Packers 31, Bears 23.  September 13, 2015.  Soldier Field.

Rodgers continued his mastery of the rival Bears, completing 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns, two to James Jones and one to Randall Cobb as Green Bay rallied from a 13-10 halftime deficit.

He was also the Packers second-leading rusher behind workhorse Eddie Lacy, who rushed 19 times for 85 yards and scored a touchdown.  Rodgers also scrambled effectively and ran eight times for 35 yards.

Packers 27, Jaguars 23.  September 11, 2016.  EBF Stadium.

While the Green Bay offense was far from perfect in a season-opening victory, Rodgers was the difference in the game.

On a scorching afternoon,  he accounted for three touchdowns:  a 6-yard run in the first quarter and two touchdown strikes in the second stanza.  The stats were pedestrian by his standards:  20 completions in 34 attempts for 199 yards.   Rodgers was at his best on his two touchdown throws, extending the plays with his feet and elusiveness in the pocket and frustrating opposing defenders in the process.

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Green Bay doesn’t waste opportunity to take division lead at home.  Protecting Rodgers, pressuring Stafford, and establishing run against feisty Detroit—who gifted Chicago a win Sunday—are the keys to victory.

Packers 30, Lions 20  

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