QB – Aaron Rodgers
Week 7 Statistics:
39/56, 326 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, 7 rushing yards; 23.74 fantasy points
After seeming to continue his struggles from 2015 throughout most of this season so far, it had to feel good for Packers fans to see the offense manage to perform with at least some consistency in the second half versus the Bears.
Those criticizing him coming in may have been somewhat overzealous in their declarations (myself included), but it was truly concerning to see him miss on handfuls of throws that were simply routine for him pre-2015. One game doesn’t fix all that, but a formula of sorts may have presented itself, even without a reliable running game.
Following a fumble return TD by Chicago which put Green Bay down 10-6, the Packers moved fully into an attack focused heavily on quick, short throws. Behind this, the issues of separation which continued to plague Rodgers’ receivers in coverage were minimized to a degree, letting them get the ball in their hands relatively quickly and try to make something happen.
In this style, Rodgers managed his fourth game of the season under 6.00 yards per attempt on his throws, but he had his most productive game in terms of yardage (326) since Week 10 of 2016 while picking up his first 3+ TD pass game since Week 9 of last year — and first without an INT since Week 3 of that year. He also managed the most single-game completions of his career (39) and was just under 70% in completion percentage despite having the second-highest single-game pass attempts of his career (56).
With both the injury issues in the backfield and his receivers likely to continue struggling to get separation, this plan of attack seems to be what the Packers will continue to go with for awhile — and it should work again here versus Atlanta.
The Falcons defense has a couple nice contributors — Desmond Trufant continues to be an underrated-yet-great cornerback, and Dwight Freeney is still destructive as a situational pass rusher — but are still nowhere near the kind of unit an offense should fear. Going by Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, the Falcons rank 26th in Defensive DVOA through seven weeks; specifically against the pass and run, they are 24th and 21st, respectively. Comparing that to the other defenses Green Bay has faced already, only Detroit is lower overall and versus the pass.
Combine those defensive shortcomings with the recent success in the short passing game — another area Atlanta has struggled (26th in Defensive DVOA versus short passes) — and everything is setting up for another good outing from Rodgers.