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Doug Farrar

Thanksgiving Day Spotlight: Keeping Aaron Rodgers upright

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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It's no secret that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers(notes) is taking sacks at a historic rate -- his 43 through 10 games puts him on pace for 69 for the season, and an outside shot at the all-time single-season record of 76, suffered by Houston's David Carr(notes) in 2002. The surprise is that with all those takedowns, Rodgers is still an efficient quarterback. Going into today's game with the Detroit Lions, Rodgers ranks fourth in the NFL with a 102.6 passer rating, and 15th in Football Outsiders' quarterback efficiency rankings. What's most amazing is that he's only given up two fumbles all season, and the Packers didn't lose either one of them.

Last time the Packers and Lions faced off, Green Bay came up on the top end of a 26-0 score on October 18. Rodgers took five sacks and still completed 29 passes in 37 attempts for 358 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions are trying to gain some measure of consistent competitiveness, but you have to wonder what Rodgers can do in the encore to a defense that made Brady Quinn(notes) look like Peyton Manning last week. Rodgers has gone sackless in a game only once this season -- against the Browns in Week 7, but the Packers made some adjustments to their pass protection last week against the 49ers (giving up only two sacks), and that could benefit Rodgers going forward. Gone were the repeated examples of Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy beating their heads against the same old seven-step drops, replaced by more short drops and quick strikes. The Packers have the personnel and the formation diversity to make an easier spread-style offense appealing, and that's an offense that Rodgers can run skillfully.

As for the Lions, they're just hoping to have NFC Offensive Player of the Week Matthew Stafford(notes) and Megatron of the Year Calvin Johnson(notes) in this game to match Green Bay's firepower, but as posting time, Stafford is doubtful and Johnson is questionable with what Eric Mangini would call "faked injuries" (a claim he has since redacted). Whoever plays quarterback for the Lions -- Stafford or backup Daunte Culpepper(notes) -- might be able to take advantage of a depleted Packers secondary, looking to replace cornerback Al Harris(notes) and sackmaster Aaron Kampman(notes). (UPDATE: Reports now indicate that Stafford will start). The odds still favor a Packers win at a sold-out Ford Field, but perhaps the Lions can build on their winning performance against Cleveland last week and give their long-suffering fans reason for thanks.

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