As expected, the Packers crushed the Vikings on Monday night. A few thoughts:
Aaron Rodgers’ passer rating actually went up. Didn’t think that was possible? Rodgers, who came in with a ridiculous 129.1 rating, raised that number to 130.7 with a four-touchdown, zero-interception performance against Minnesota’s terrible secondary. Rodgers, who has had a triple-digit rating in an NFL-record nine straight games, will almost surely break Peyton Manning’s single-season passer rating record (121.1 in 2004). His 28-to-4 touchdown-to-pick ratio is also unheard of. He’s having one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever had. Hell, he’s having one of the best careers any quarterback has ever had.
Not judging Christian Ponder. I think the recent success of certain rookie quarterbacks has caused us to assume that they’re all supposed to be great from the get-go, but keep in mind that Ponder struggled Monday night against a very aggressive defense. The numbers weren’t pretty, and I wasn’t thrilled with the way in which he reacted to pressure, but it was only Ponder’s third career start. This is a guy who wasn’t considered pro-ready after an abbreviated offseason. Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have been impressive, while I’m losing confidence in Blaine Gabbert. As far as Ponder goes, the jury’s still out.
Pursuit of perfection. The win gets the Packers to 9-0, which means we can take a step back and update Green Bay’s progress in its pursuit of a perfect season. And while they’ll be favored the rest of the way, each of their final seven games are lose-able.
The Packers finish up like this:
Week 11: vs. Tampa Bay — The Buccaneers are much better than their record indicates, and they might be hungry to save their season.
Week 12: at Detroit — The Lions have really faded, but they’ll still be in the race. And they’ll be hungry to win a big Thanksgiving home game against their division rival.
Week 13: at the Giants — This could be their biggest challenge of the second half, at MetLife.
Week 14: vs. Oakland — Another division leader, but at least this one’s at home.
Week 15: at Kansas City — Probably their easiest test remaining, but you never know at Arrowhead.
Week 16: vs. Chicago — The Bears have improved a lot since their 10-point Week 3 loss to the Pack.
Week 17: vs. Detroit — Again, the Lions could be fighting for their playoff lives, and what will the Packers do if they’ve already clinched?
Combined record of their final seven opponents: 37-26. And the only two teams that are below the .500 mark are 4-5, so there are no more walks in the park (like there were with St. Louis, Minnesota and Denver earlier this season).
Finishing 7-0 will be a very tough task. As good as Green Bay looks right now, I still think they’re eventually going to have an off day against a desperate team. Based on what happened to the perfect New England Patriots in February 2008, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.