Despite 11-3 record, Packers unimpressive

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN.com) 

It’s been a while since the Green Bay Packers impressed. Even when they cashed betting tickets in victories, Aaron Rodgers and company didn’t play well. 

That helps explain why the Packers were getting 5 or 5.5 points through the week for Monday night’s NFC North challenge against the Minnesota Vikings (8:15 p.m., ESPN). Green Bay has the better record, but the Packers have inspired skepticism from the most important market influences. 

Why? In recent wins:

— Green Bay (-4.5) beat Chicago 21-13 but was outgained 429-292. Rodgers completed less than 50% of his passes while throwing for fewer than 200 yards. 

— Green Bay (-13) beat lowly Washington only 20-15. The Packers won yardage by an unimpressive 341-262 tally against a rookie quarterback. Rodgers passed for only 167 yards. 

— Green Bay (-6.5) beat the Giants 31-13 at MetLife Stadium but got outgained 335-322. Another rookie quarterback was leading the opponent.

— Green Bay (-4) beat Carolina 24-16 but was outgained 401-388. Carolina failed to cash late scoring threats — just before its season crumbled. 

That’s a 4-0 straight-up record, 3-1 against the spread. But the Packers were outgained 1,427 to 1,343 by a poor quartet led by lousy or inexperienced quarterbacks. 

Off those performances, sharps using statistical modelling wouldn’t grade Green Bay as a dangerous team vs. quality — just savvy enough to make the most of mediocre yardage vs. dregs.

In recent losses:

— Green Bay ( 3) was crushed 37-8 by San Francisco, getting outgained 339-198 on 7.5 to 2.8 yards per play. Rodgers’ net passing line was a comical 23-37-0-81. The Packers were 1 of 15 on third down. 

— Green Bay (-4) lost badly at the Los Angeles Chargers 26-11, getting outgained 442-184 on 6.5 to 3.8 yards per play. And the Packers had more awful third-down (2/10) and passing (23-35-0-139) numbers. 

It’s not like the Chargers are anything special. Green Bay was outgained by a stunning 781-387 in California. 

What’s going to happen in a road game at Minnesota, one of the toughest sites for visitors in high-pressure scenarios? Even if you’re no fan of Kirk Cousins, he’s a lot better right now than Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins or Kyle Allen.

Consistently unimpressive stats are painting the Packers as playoff pretenders. That’s very clear in a head-to-head rankings comparison with the Vikings:

— Total offense: Minnesota No. 10, Green Bay No. 21.

— Total defense: Minnesota No. 14, Green Bay No. 23.

— Schedule strength: Minnesota No. 26, Green Bay No. 27 (entering the week, according to Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings at USA Today). 

Both have played soft schedules thanks to drawing the NFC East and AFC West in divisional rotations. The Packers have poor stat rankings against a weak slate. 

Also in play Monday for handicappers, Green Bay knows it can still win its division next week by defeating the distant also-ran Detroit Lions. That would at least ensure a home game over wild-card weekend. Obviously, finishing 2-0 and earning a bye would be much preferred. But if the Packers fall behind early in Minnesota, they may pack it in to focus on their finale.

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