StaTuesday: Rodgers struggling with division title on the line

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has struggled over his last five games, posting a passer rating of just 78.2 despite a 3-2 record.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The issues started in the preseason, when the Green Bay Packers lost standout wide receiver Jordy Nelson to a torn ACL.

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It continued with a 1-4 stretch at midseason and came to a head with a 38-8 blowout in Arizona on Sunday night.

The Packers are unwell, and typically stalwart signal-caller Aaron Rodgers is caught up in the team’s issues.

A consistent presence amongst the league’s elite for the past several years, Rodgers is on pace for his worst statistical season since taking over as the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008.

And while a down season for Rodgers is hardly a terrible outing, the Packers quarterback isn’t just being out-gunned by MVP candidates like Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, he’s performing at a different level entirely.

Rodgers ranks ninth in the league in touchdown passes at 30, but his touchdown numbers are an outlier when looking at the full picture.

Meanwhile, the 11th-year pro ranks 17th in the league in passing yards at 3,530, and has fallen to 27th in the league in completion rate at 60.4 percent.

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Rodgers was effectively smothered by a brutal Cardinals defense that allowed just 151 passing yards to the Packers veteran, while sacking him nine times.

Rodgers was forced to cough up the ball three times, while Arizona’s defensive line recovered two of those fumbles.

It’s a situation that should make Sunday night’s NFC North showdown between the Packers and the Minnesota Vikings a more compelling affair than their last meeting, a 30-13 Green Bay win in late November.

And while Vikings starter Teddy Bridgewater is playing the best football of his career, Rodgers is trending in the wrong direction.

Over the past five games Bridgewater has outperformed Rodgers under similar conditions, with both quarterbacks squaring off against underwhelming defenses (Bridgewater roasted Atlanta, while Rodgers led a miraculous comeback against Detroit) and dominant units (both lost to the league’s No. 5-ranked pass defense in Arizona).

So while the Packers will likely remain the favorite to take home a fifth straight division title in the leadup to Sunday’s game, it could be a tough night for a Packers offense that has struggled to move the ball at times this season, as Green Bay faces a healthy Minnesota pass defense that ranks No. 9 in the league.