Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has started four games against the Carolina Panthers in his career, and with the announcement on Tuesday night that he has been cleared to return to game action, that number will increase to five on Sunday afternoon. In the four previous games, the Packers are just 2-2, but those two losses cannot be pinned on Rodgers’ head.
In fact, Rodgers has put up some of his best regular-season statistics against the Panthers. Through those four previous games, Rodgers has completed 92 of his 145 attempts (a 63.5 completion percentage) for 1230 yards, 12 touchdowns, and two interceptions. That’s good for a passer rating of 112.1, which is eight points higher than his career rating.
Rodgers’ best game against the Panthers came in 2014, when the Packers cruised to a 38-17 victory. In that game, he went 19-22 for 255 yards (that’s 11.6 yards per attempt) with three scores and no picks.
In fact, against only six opponents does Rodgers have a higher career passer rating than his 112.1 against Carolina, and you can blame small sample size on a few of them — he has started just two games each against three of those six teams (Cleveland, the Chargers, and Kansas City).
Rodgers also has a sterling 8.48 yards per attempt against the Panthers, a number he has exceeded against just five other NFL teams.
Still, it is important to note the most recent meeting between these two teams, which took place midway through the 2015 season. In that game, the Packers’ offense was abysmal for much of the first half, as Carolina sprinted out to a 27-7 lead. Rodgers helped lead the Packers back into the game, however, throwing three touchdowns including two in the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter. However, the comeback fell short when he was picked off by Thomas Davis on a fourth-and-goal play with two minutes remaining.
Of course, it will likely take Rodgers a little bit on Sunday to get going, and it would be logical to expect the Packers to rely on Jamaal Williams and the running game early on as #12 gets comfortable. However, Carolina has one of the league’s best rushing defenses, ranking fifth in DVOA and allowing the third-fewest yards on the ground (though they are a middle-of-the-pack 15th in yards per attempt). Still, it’s encouraging to know that Rodgers typically has success against the Panthers’ defenses, as he will need to factor heavily if the Packers are to leave Charlotte with a victory.