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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 11/15/2011

Can Aaron Rodgers and the Packers go 16-0?


Aaron Rodgers is making it look easy. (Jeffrey Phelps - AP)
Last night was business as usual for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Just another ho-hum 45-7 shellacking of the Minnesota Vikings on “Monday Night Football.”

Another four-touchdown performance from Rodgers and a third straight game with a completion percentage north of 76 and a quarterback rating above 140.

It’s been that kind of season for the 9-0 defending Super Bowl champs, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. There’s no doubt they’re the class of the NFL through 10 weeks — so where’s all the 16-0 chatter?

Last week The League’s Anthony Stalter wrote that the Packers were somehow managing to fly under the radar despite their 8-0 start. And despite a defense that ranked 30th in the league before shutting down Minnesota on Monday night, he postulated what many are already thinking: the Packers are serious contenders to go 16-0.

Rodgers is putting together one of the finest seasons in NFL history and as of right now, it’s hard to envision an opponent getting the best of him on any given Sunday. There has only been one quarterback since 1960 that has attempted at least 10 passes and had a better passer rating than Rodgers’ current mark of 129.1 through eight games: Tom Brady, who had a QB rating of 136.2 in 2007. Yes, that was the same year the Patriots finished 16-0.”

The defense remains a concern, and the Packers came into Monday night with the 30th ranked unit in the league. But Clay Matthews and company have shown flashes of last year’s level of play, and to be fair: when have the Packers needed to play shutdown D this year?

After Monday’s rout, Steve Young had this to say about the Green Bay offense: “It’s so easy, it’s just not fair.”

Doesn’t sound far off from what people were saying in 2007 when Tom Brady and the Patriots were rolling to a 16-0 regular season.

Here’s a look at how Rodgers compares to 2007 Brady so far...

----------------GP---Comp-----Att-----Pct----Yds----TD----Int---Rate

Brady---------16-----398------578----68.9--4,806----50-----8----117.2

Rodgers------9------215------295----76.7--2,869----28-----3----130.7

It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize Rodgers is on an historic pace (His projected numbers: 382-524-5-5,100, 50 TDs). But does this Packers team have what it takes to match New England’s 2007 regular season — and join the 1972 Dolphins as the only team to run the table to a Super Bowl title?

Of course there’s the question of resting starters late in the season. The Packers could have the NFC North title and the top seed in the playoffs wrapped up with multiple weeks to play. Would they then go the Tony Dungy route and rest Rodgers and many of their starters or play out the regular season to keep their rhythm rolling right into the playoffs?

By  |  11:23 AM ET, 11/15/2011

 
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