It is no secret that the Green Bay Packers have played better football at Lambeau Field than on the road. Taking a look at the stats on how the Packers offense and defense have performed, as well turnover stats, at home and on the road shows just how much better the Packers have been in Lambeau.
The Basic Stats:
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After looking at the average points scored and allowed per game for the Packers at home and on the road it is obvious that the Packers are doing very well at home and poorly on the road in terms of point differential. At Lambeau the Packers are outscoring their opponents by 21 points per game and putting up a staggering 41 points per game. Meanwhile on the road the Packers are being outscored on average by 5 points per game and putting up a very mediocre average of 21 points per contest.
The 26 points per game allowed on the road is not good and needs improvement. This Packers offense can top 26 points against any team in any stadium, but with how the offense has struggled on the road this year, leaning on the offense to win the game is not a sure bet. It is up to the defense to start carrying its own weight.
Taking a look at the passing and rushing yardage stats entering Sunday as well as turnover stats, all of which can be seen in the table below, will paint you a similar story to the point per game differential.
Yardage and Turnovers:
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There are three stats that really stick out in this table. The first being that the Packers average almost 60 more passing yards per game at home than on the road. While it may or may not seem like as much as you would expect, it is a very large differential.
To put that 60 yard differential into perspective, the Packers currently rank 8th in the NFL in passing yards per game. If you add 60 yards to their total that puts them an easy 10 yards per game ahead of the number one ranked Colts. If you take 60 yards away from the Packers’ average passing yards that would put them all the way down to 27th in the NFL in passing yards per game. Ranking right between the St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings.
It is also worth noting that Rodgers has been pulled four times from the second half of home games due to the games being non-competitive. That 60 yards could easily be much more. This definitely hampers the discrepancy in passing yards per game, but even without considering that, 60 yards per game is still a pretty big difference.
The turnover differential also plays a role in road struggles for the Packers. While having a +0.7 in turnover margin on the road is by no means bad, in fact it’s pretty good, it does not touch the +1.5 differential the Packers have at home. This is not an elite defense in terms of yards or points allowed, nor are they elite in terms of sacks and getting consistent pressure. The Packers defense needs to force turnovers to thrive and needs the offense to not give the ball back to the opponents.
Only once this entire season have the Packers failed to force a turnover (vs. New England) and only twice this entire season have they lost the turnover battle in a game. It should come as no surprise that both of those games were road losses (at New Orleans and at Buffalo) and arguably their two worst games of the season. There is no team in the NFL that is better at turnover margin than the Packers, and it’s not even close. It’s a very important stat for them to not only tie, but win the turnover battle each game.
As much as the differential in passing yards stood out and the importance of getting a better turnover margin, the differential in rushing yards allowed between home and road games is just as big of a contributor to the Packers’ struggles. The Packers allow a staggering 55 yards more per game on the ground in games played away from Lambeau Field this season than games played at Lambeau. Like getting turnovers, not being able to stop the run is a huge issue when it comes to getting the ball back in the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
Looking a Little Deeper:
The Packers allowing a rushing home-road differential average of 55 yards only begins to tell the truth with the Packers run defense on the road. The two tables below show the game logs of rushing yards for the Packers and what the Packers have allowed for all their games this season.
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You will notice that the Packers have put up good rushing numbers pretty much every game at home this season. They have gone over 100 rushing yards each game at home this year with the exception of week 2 vs the Jets where the Packers got down big, early. You will also notice that the Packers have allowed a staggering amount of rushing yards in every road game this season.
The most rushing yards the Packers have allowed in a game this season at Lambeau was 147 to the Jets in their first home game. The second most rushing yards the Packers have allowed in a home game was 111 to the Vikings in their second home game of the season. The 111 rushing yards allowed to the Vikings would be the least amount of yards rushing they would have allowed in any road game this year. Not only is 112 rushing yards the least the Packers have allowed in any road game this year, but they have twice allowed more than 200 rushing yards in a game and once 193.
The Packers rank in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing defense at home, they also rank dead last in the NFL in rushing defense on the road. Only the New York Giants come close to the 155 rushing yards per game the Packers allow on the road (150). The third worst team in the NFL in rush defense on the road is the Atlanta Falcons, who allow a good 20 yards less per game rushing than the Green Bay Packers.
Again, not being able to stop the run keeps the ball out of Rodgers’ hands and makes it tougher to force turnovers. These are two very big keys to why the Packers struggle on the road. Not only are teams putting up big numbers in total rushing yards against the Packers on the road, but they are running it much more efficiently and shortening the game by keeping the clock running and keeping the ball out of the hands of the Packers’ offense.
The next two tables show the average yards per rush the Packers have allowed at home versus on the road.
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The tables above show that the Packers run the ball very well at home, to the tune of 4.6 yards per carry. Made more impressive because defenses know the Packers are just going to be running the ball in the 4th quarter of most of their blowout home wins. However that great home average of 4.6 yards per carry takes a hit down to 4.3 yards per carry on the road, which is still fairly decent.
The problem lies, again, in the defense. At home the defense allows a fantastic 3.9 yards per carry, meanwhile on the road that average jumps almost a full yard up to 4.8 yards per carry.
Three times this season the Packers have allowed an opposing team to rush for an average of 5.5 yards per carry or more on the road. Meanwhile only twice have the Packers held a road opponent to a rushing average of less than 4.5 yards per carry. For comparison, only once have the Packers allowed a team to rush for 4.5 yards per carry (4.7) while at Lambeau. The Packers defense is getting dominated up front while playing on the road.
The tables below put into perspective how bad the Packers run defense has been this season on the road and how effective the Packers have been at rushing the ball this season, at home or on the road. The tables list how well the opponents the Packers have played at home perform on average while playing on the road and how the opponents the Packers have played on the road perform on average in their home stadiums this year.
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The teams that the Packers have played at Lambeau this season have allowed an average of 108.0 yards per game rushing while playing on the road, as well as 4.17 yards per carry on the road. Which makes the Packers 129.9 rushing yards per game and 4.60 yards per carry at Lambeau against those teams, all the more impressive. The Packers defense in Lambeau has held their opponents to 16 yards per game less than what they usually average rushing on the road as well as 0.25 yards per carry lower than they usually average on the road. Very impressive.
While on the road the Packers are rushing for the same amount of yards as their opponents typically allow in their home games this year, but they are doing it with a 0.3 yards per carry average higher than their opponents typically allow.
There has been no issues with the Packers’ run offense at home or on the road this year.
However, as stated earlier, as impressive as the run defense has been at home and the offense’s run game has been at home and on the road, the Packers’ run defense on the road has been equally bad. The teams the Packers have played on the road typically average 118 yards rushing per game while playing at home this year. The Packers have allowed them to rush for 155 yards per game, 37 yards per game more than those teams typically rush for in home games. Those same opponents rush for an average of 4.36 yards per carry at home this year, the Packers have allowed them to rush for 4.8 yards per carry. It’s not hard to see where things start to go wrong for the Packers’ defense on the road this season.
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Taking a look at the two tables above, there are two things that stand out: The Packers offense has been fantastic at throwing the ball at home this year. They average putting up almost 40 yards per game more than the teams they played in Lambeau average giving up on the road this season and the Packers average 1.2 yards per pass attempt more at home than their opponents typically give up on the road. A very impressive number.
Meanwhile the Packers’ passing offense on the road this season has been surprisingly very, very much an average passing attack. The Packers average putting up 236.6 yards per game through the air on the road this year against teams that allow 241.2 yards on average at home. The Packers 236.6 passing yards per game on the road ranks a mediocre 13th in the NFL in passing yards per game on the road this season. They also average putting up 6.57 yards per pass on the road (a far cry from the 8.49 yards per pass they average at home) to teams that typically give up 6.51 yards per pass in their home stadiums. Much like the total yards, the Packers sit right at their opponent’s average yards per pass attempt while playing on the road this year.
The Packers’ passing offense has been an average passing offense on the road this year, likewise their passing defense has also been fairly average. The Packers actually hold opponents to 18 yards less passing per game on the road than those teams typically put up at home. A lot of that comes from how often teams are running on the Packers in road games though. While playing away from Lambeau, the Packers are holding opponents to their yearly average for passing yards per pass attempt (6.66 vs. 6.64) in their opponent’s home games. Fairly unremarkable numbers in both passing defense and passing offense for the Packers on the road this year and in the case of the offense, it is rather disappointing.
Putting It All Together
To no surprise the Packers offense has been great at home at both passing the ball and running the ball. While the Packers have been fairly good at running the ball on the road this year, they have been very average at passing the ball, which is their bread and butter and the lifeblood of this football team.
When the passing offense isn’t working the Packers need to rely on turnover differential and the defense to force turnovers and get off the field, but that is not what they have been doing on the road this year. That not happening is shown by their 3 and 4 win-loss record on the road versus their 7 and 0 record at home.
The Packers’ run defense has been atrocious on the road and is failing to get off the field. This is putting added pressure on the struggling offense and limiting the number of chances they get. There has been more than one time this season when the Packers needed a key stop late in the game and simply could not get off the field because they were too tired from getting gashed repeatedly over the course of the game.
It is imperative for the defense to not only get off the field to allow the offense to get in a rhythm, but also for the offense to allow the defense time to rest. While the Packers defense is creating turnovers on the road it is not at the same rate that they are at home and their turnover margin is twice as high at home as it is on the road. This becomes a major issue when coupled with the run defense’s road struggles.
There has definitely been a difference in how the Packers have played on the road this year versus at Lambeau Field. If the Packers are looking to make a run to the Super Bowl this year there is a pretty high certainty that they will have to play more than one team that can protect the ball and control it with the run game.
There is also a high likelihood that they will need to play at least one road game in that stretch. They need to figure out a way to maintain what they have done at Lambeau and translate it to the road. If they don’t improve their performance on the road there is a decent chance they will not make it to where they want to go this year. Getting home field advantage could be more meaningful this year for the Green Bay Packers than any other year before this.——————
Mike Reuter lives in the Twin Cities and is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas. He is a mobile tech enthusiast, a 19 year Gopher Football season ticket holder and a huge Packers fan. Mike is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @uofmike.