The Green Bay Packers are off this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bathe in the wonderfulness that is America’s only publicly owned sports franchise. After all, what other team in the league can sit down the odds-on MVP favorite against a seemingly ferocious Detroit Lions defense, only to watch his backup come in and blow the opposition away in record-breaking fashion?
You know that the Packers get a bye in the first official weekend of NFL postseason play, but here are five interesting facts that you may not know heading into Wild Card weekend:
1. Green Bay doesn’t have as many options as you think in regards to Matt Flynn. Look, nobody is denying that Flynn will be sorely missed when he departs elsewhere. Along the same lines, his 480-yard, six-score showing against a Detroit Lions team that legitimately looked to be trying for much of the day was extremely impressive. All of that being said, though, the Packers will not use their franchise tag on him; clearly that tag has Jermichael Finley’s name all over it. Plus, as noted by Andrew Brandt (via Kevin Seifert) there is financial incentive for the defending champs not to go that route. Should they give Flynn the franchise tag, they immediately put $14 million down to do so. Should Flynn sign off, that sum automatically becomes guaranteed. And, if that $14 million becomes guaranteed, Green Bay loses all real trade leverage. Long story short: it won’t happen. [ESPN]
2. Aaron Rodgers was historically great this year. This was a tough year for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and Rodgers didn’t do much to alleviate the pain. Instead, he stepped up and broke two of Manning’s more respectable records – highest passer rating in a season (122.5) and most consecutive games with 100+ yard passer rating (12). [Cold Hard Football Facts]
3. There’s good news and bad news about Green Bay’s defense. The reason nobody really knows what to make of the defending champs’ defense is because it’s kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, after last week, this Packers unit has officially allowed more passing yards than any other in history with 4,796. Most. In. History. That was the bad news. The good news, though, is they also lead the league with 31 picks – a full eight more than the second closest squad in that regard. So, yeah, they’re relying on a formula of giving up a lot of passing yardage but also forcing a massive amount of turnovers. Does that formula work? See their 15 wins. Does it also sometimes not work? See their game versus the Kansas City Chiefs. [ESPN]
4. Back to Aaron Rodgers' greatness for a second. Dude sold a lot of jerseys. Just saying. [Opposing Views]
5. Matt Flynn can throw bombs, apparently. Heading into last weekend there was doubt about precisely what kind of arm Flynn had. The doubt wasn’t enough to hurt his value too much this summer, but it definitely lingered in folks’ minds. Well, good news – he can throw. Against Detroit, Flynn completed three passes that went 31 yards or further. Prior to that, however, he missed all five deep throws he tried. Hardly a huge body of work to make definitive statements on, but every little bit helps. [ESPN]