Green Bay Packers: Are Defending Champs Unstoppable?
It wasn't really that much of a surprise when Aaron Rodgers dismantled the New Orleans Saints last night and snuck his Green Bay Packers past their NFC counterparts on opening night.
However, it was a surprise at just how easy he made it look.
There will be a lot of talk this morning about how bad the Saints defense was and how Rodgers has already cemented his place as the favorite for the MVP come season's close. Lost in all that is the fact that the New Orleans Saints were one play away from tying the game in the final seconds and even later.
When a game finishes 42-34, there are't going to be many plaudits for either side's defense. But the truth is neither were that bad.
Drew Brees had a sensational night under center for the Saints, but that will largely go unnoticed because of Aaron Rodgers all-world first half performance. Both of these offenses will be among the best in the league this year and both of their defenses were the best in the NFC last year.
The fact is Aaron Rodgers had to be sensational last night because if he hadn't been the Saints would have won the game. No matter how many weapons he has around him Rodgers won't play like that every week.
Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league in my mind, but nobody can sustain the level of performance he put in last night. Even during last season's playoffs he had a horrible performance against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game.
Last night he was fortunate in that he was able to throw in a comfortable pocket for most of his throws.
The Saints will feel aggrieved in this game because their secondary actually played pretty well. They were never going to be able to shut out the Packers' receivers but more often than not they were in good coverage and just got beat by expert ball placement from Rodgers (there is no better example of that than the first touchdown or a lot of Greg Jennings' receptions).
Losing Will Smith to suspension so late in the preseason having already released Alex Brown significantly hurt the Saints upfront. They could not get any pressure on Rodgers with their misfit defensive line.
The Packers' biggest frailty offensively is their offensive line and the Saints simply couldn't capitalize on that last night. Shaun Rodgers looked like he was still in Cleveland while Aubrayo Franklin and Sedrick Ellis aren't really pass rushing tackles.
Scott Wells may have had a fantastic night at center for the Packers but watch how he copes when the Chicago Bears or Detroit Lions come to town. Watch how easy it is for Aaron Rodgers to pick apart their secondaries with hands in his face all night.
The Saints did not have what was needed to stem the offensive efficiency of the Packers. Dominating that offensive line is the only way you can shut down that offense, but you can shut it down and last night proved that you can put points on the defense.
For this reason I am taking yesterday's huge day for Rodgers as simply that a huge day.
It wasn't a sign that this team is unstoppable—they did give up 34 points and win the game on the final play—it was a sign that they are going to be contenders this year and shouldn't be affected by any Super Bowl hangover.
Lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
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