This week's GMC Playbook question from Marshall Faulk is here. We're looking in the mirror and seeing not just green and gold, but blue and orange this week. You'll see what I mean after Faulk gives us our prompt:
The first team that stands out to me as being very similar to the Packers is the Denver Broncos. Both teams have a quarterback who is regarded as among the best in the NFL, and both have extremely talented receiving corps for their signal-callers to throw to. Plus, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning are among the best in the league at calling plays at the line of scrimmage and dissecting defenses to identify weaknesses. Both teams also have running games that have emerged over the past few weeks as productive complements to their passing game. Furthermore, there are solid pass rushers and deep secondaries on both squads.
Then, when you start to look at statistical measures, the similarities are even more clear, especially on offense. The Broncos are ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards per game, with 294; the Packers are sixth at 273 (the Packers hold a 7.8 to 7.4 edge in net passing yards per attempt, though). Green Bay runs for 114 yards per game, 14th in the NFL, while Denver sits 17th at 111 yards per game; furthermore, both teams have eleven touchdowns on the ground. Both teams are also in the top five in lowest percentage of offensive drives that end in a turnover: while the Broncos are 4th at 8.8%, the Packers are the best at 5.9%.
The defenses also share statistical similarities, starting with the pass defense. Denver gives up 238 passing yards per game, 13th in the league. While the Packers are seven spots loser at 20th, the yardage they allow is only seven yards more at 245. As far as turnovers and sacks go, the teams trade places a bit; the Packers average 1.84 turnovers forced per game compared to the Broncos' 1.46, but Denver is ahead in sacks per game at 2.9 to the Packers' 2.2.
In fact, the only significant difference between these teams is the performance of the rush defenses. The Broncos' run defense is elite - they allow just 73 yards per game on the ground and 3.5 yards per carry, while the Packers over the course of this season are at 129 yards per game and 4.4 per carry. However, Green Bay has performed much better in that phase of the game since moving Clay Matthews inside after the bye week - over the past five games, the rush defense has averaged just 90 yards per game allowed and just 3.7 per carry.
Still, the two teams are neck and neck in the most important statistics of all - points scored and allowed. On offense, Green Bay has a 32.5 to 29.6 advantage in points per game, while the Broncos have a miniscule edge in points allowed at 22.5 to 23.4.
Ultimately, both the Packers and Broncos are among the NFL's elite right now, and a Super Bowl XXXII rematch would be a hugely entertaining Super Bowl matchup for the league. We'll see over the next six weeks if that is in the cards this year.
(Bonus trivia fact: the only time Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have played each other in the regular season was in Rodgers' first season as a starter in 2008. The Packers, who eventually finished 6-10, defeated the 12-4 Colts 34-14 at Lambeau Field, partially thanks to a pair of pick-sixes from safeties Nick Collins and Aaron Rouse.)
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