The interception streak is over and the Green Bay Packers are 5-0.
These are the popular talking points following the team's 24-10 victory over the formidable St. Louis Rams. While Green Bay is well on its way to a top seed in the NFC playoff field, there are some valid concerns about how the team has performed along the way. Aaron Rodgers and the offense have produced only 34 points over the past two weeks, a shockingly low figure for what is widely considered one of the NFL's premier units. Meanwhile, injuries continue to pile up. However, there are several positives to take away from Sunday's game.
Matthews is off to his best start in years
When it was reported during training camp that Clay Matthews would play most of his snaps at inside linebacker, many expected his pass rush production to decline significantly. While the Packers have always lined up Matthews over the middle to some degree, he has become a near fulltime off-ball player this season. Yet despite rushing the passer less, Matthews is generating more pressure than he has in years.
Currently, Matthews is on pace to finish the regular season with 67 total pressures, the most the linebacker will have produced since 2011. When considering what Matthews provides the defense against the run and in coverage at his new position, it's incredible to think he has actually improved as a pass rusher. The sample size remains small, but Matthews could be on his way to a viable Defensive Player of the Year candidacy.
Bakhtiari bounces back
One of the dominant narratives of the Packers season has been the shortcomings of David Bakhtiari. The third-year left tackle struggled in pass protection through the first five weeks, raising questions about his health. Bakhtiari missed most of the preseason with a knee injury, and appeared to suffer another leg injury during the team's Week 3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He didn't miss any time, but his play didn't seem to improve, either.
That finally changed Sunday. Playing primarily across of All-Pro defensive end Robert Quinn, Bakhtiari allowed just one pressure (a sack) in the third quarter. For the rest of the afternoon, Bakhtiari kept Rodgers clean. Considering the quality of competition, the tackle's performance is a tremendously positive sign for the Packers.
Green bay can get healthy if it avoids any major injuries this week
Once again, the Packers find themselves in the middle of a season with several important players on the shelf. On Sunday, right guard T.J. Lang and B.J. Raji joined the walking wounded with injuries to their knee and groin respectively. Though neither injuries are thought to be serious, both could miss some time while they recover.
The good news for Green Bay is the bye week quickly approaches. If the team can get through next weekend's tilt against the San Diego Chargers without losing another important player, they have a chance to get everyone back in time for the important Week 8 road trip to Denver. That could be especially valuable for the offense, which hasn't looked right the past two weeks without Davante Adams and a dinged up Randall Cobb and James Jones.