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In Hall of Famer’s Rankings, Showdown or Mismatch?

The Aikman Efficiency Rankings, a stats-based way of comparing teams, are slanted toward the Arizona Cardinals for Thursday night's game against the Green Bay Packers.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Based on the standings, Thursday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals is a heavyweight showdown

Green Bay is 6-1 and winners of six straight. Arizona is 7-0. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is the front-runner to win MVP this year.

However, according to the stats-based Aikman Efficiency Ratings, which are published by The 33rd Team, this is more like a champion fighter facing a sparring partner.

The Aikman Efficiency Ratings measure seven categories of performance on offense and defense. Devised by Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman in 2005 and compiled by Sportsradar, “they provide a better measure of the qualities that win football games than simply total yards gained, the method used by the NFL to rank offenses and defenses.”

The categories are points (20%), red-zone efficiency as measured by points per red-zone possession (20%), turnovers (20%), yards per rush (10%), yards per pass (10%), third-down percentage (10%) and first downs (10%).

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Arizona is No. 1 on offense and No. 3 on defense. Overall, it is No. 2 behind Buffalo. Green Bay is No. 19 in both phases and No. 18 overall, having faced a long slog to get out of last place.

Offensively, the Packers’ score is slightly above average. They are plagued by being 22nd in the red zone and 19th in yards per carry. Defensively, Green Bay is 30th in the red zone, 30th in yards per rush and 22nd on third down. However, it is tied for fourth where it matters, the scoreboard, with 20.9 points allowed per game.

“The big thing is we’re just trying to win the football game,” fill-in defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said on Wednesday. “However the way we win it, we win it. I don’t care. To me, I think stats are kind of overrated. If you win the football game, guess what? That’s what you’re going to get graded on.”

With four of their wins coming by three scores, including resounding road wins against the Titans, Rams and Browns, the Cardinals have been an elite team. Their talent, combined with Green Bay’s injury and COVID problems, have made the Packers 6.5-point underdogs at SI Sportsbook.

“I think we always embrace every challenge and every opportunity every time to go out there and compete,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “It will be a great challenge for us. We’re going against the best team in ball – 7-0, at their place, primetime game. I’m sure that place will be rocking. It is a great challenge. They’ve got a lot of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, starting with their quarterback. They’ve got Pro Bowl wide receivers and I think they don’t get the credit they deserve up front. When you look at their defense, these guys are flying around making plays. They’ve got a lot of team speed, really, in all three phases.”


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