After starting out the season 1-2, the Packers are playing like it’s 1996.
And it’s all due to a little home cooking.
Lambeau Field has turned into a House of Horrors for opposing teams this year. The Packers have scored 219 of 330 points at home. They lead the NFL in home scoring and total points scored.
“It’s that Lambeau luck,” said linebacker Mike Neal after the Packers destroyed Philadelphia 53-20. “We’ve been coming out pretty strong in our home games. When you jump on a team like that, it’s pretty hard to come back in Lambeau. We did a pretty good job of that.”
Neal is on to something, but when you put up back-to-back 50 burgers on the scoreboard for the first time in franchise history, it appears there’s a little more than luck that’s responsible for such lopsided scores. The Packers are playing their 96th overall season and 94th in the NFL. Nobody at City Stadium, Milwaukee County Stadium or Lambeau Field has ever seen this before. Heck, the Packers are only the fifth team in NFL history to notch two-straight 50-point games.
Of course it helps when you’ve got a quarterback that is absolutely white-hot. Aaron Rodgers is 96 for 144 (66.7 percent), with 18 touchdowns, zero interceptions and an absurd passer rating of 138.1 in five home games. Rodgers is zipping balls into tight windows and is having fun torching teams that have regularly played at least one safety high. Rodgers is playing so well at home that when he does misfire, he acts like it’s a playoff loss.
Brett Favre also got out to a 5-0 home start en route to a Super Bowl XXXI win. Favre played well in that span but it shows what kind of a run Rodgers is on right now. Favre was 110 for 191 (57.6 percent), with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Favre notched one 300-yard game during that period but Rodgers has three.
The best way for the Packers to secure a trip to the desert for Super Bowl XLIX is to grab home-field advantage. This team stands on the gas pedal right away as evidenced by Rodgers’ perfect 64-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson on the third play from scrimmage. And defenses generally love it when they have a team facing third-and-5 or more. The Packers converted five of those against the Eagles.
“We have a great home-field advantage, probably the best in football,” said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. “This is our element. This is where we live … you have to be dominant at home.”
With the speed that Rodgers is unloading the ball early in the game, defensive linemen cannot get a consistent pass rush. It is also setting up play-action and rollouts for later.
Even the Packers defense and special teams has an extra pep in its step at home. Julius Peppers showed off his athletic basketball skills by returning a couple of interceptions. The Packers have 18 sacks, five defensive and special teams touchdowns and have forced 12 turnovers in five games.
Three of the final six games are at home — including what appears to be a Super Bowl sneak peek when the Patriots come to town on Nov. 30.
The time is now. Rodgers is healthy and playing the best ball of his career. The modified defense with Clay Matthews playing inside linebacker is much improved and even the tight ends are starting to come into view.
This is a Super Bowl team. It just depends if the NFC road to Glendale goes through Lambeau.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn