GREEN BAY, Wis. – When served a cupcake, the Green Bay Packers have done the only logical thing.
Even after getting crushed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, the Packers returned home from Houston on Sunday ranked No. 2 in the NFL in scoring with 32.8 points per game. Other than that “outlier” performance at Tampa Bay, as Rodgers called it, the Packers have gorged on the empty calories that are a bunch of atrocious defenses.
In Week 1, it was the buttercream-flavored Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay scored 43 points against a defense that ranks 30th with 32.0 points allowed per game.
In Week 2, it was the chocolate-ganache Detroit Lions. Green Bay scored 42 points against a defense that ranks 21st with 27.5 points allowed per game.
In Week 3, it was the bourbon-laced pastry cream that is the New Orleans Saints. Green Bay scored 37 points against a defense that ranks 24th with 29.0 points allowed per game.
In Week 4, it was the red velvet of the Atlanta Falcons. Green Bay scored 30 points against a defense that ranks 26th with 29.6 points allowed per game.
On Sunday, Rodgers and Davante Adams feasted on the vanilla Houston Texans. Green Bay scored 35 points against a defense that ranks 27th with 31.0 points allowed per game.
The exception to that sugar-sweet diet, of course, was last week’s game at the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay ranks ninth with 20.3 points allowed per game. The Packers scored 10 points in the first quarter and failed to cross midfield the rest of the game. It was, to keep the dessert theme going, a slice of humble pie.
The buffet was open again against Houston, a defense that went from really bad to even worse when top cornerback Bradley Roby suffered a knee injury on the opening series and didn’t return. Four of Green Bay’s first six drives resulted in touchdowns.
“I said it was an anomaly,” Rodgers said of his comments immediately after the Tampa Bay game, “and, obviously, we wanted to back that up. That game is an outlier, I believe, and today was more in line with our first four weeks. They’ve had a lot of turmoil over there on that side. If we want to be a great team, we’ve got to win these games.”
For the 50th time in Rodgers’ career, he threw three-plus touchdown passes with zero interceptions. Only Tom Brady (60), Drew Brees (54) and Peyton Manning (51) have more.
As has been the case so often over the last few years, Davante Adams was Rodgers’ favorite target. He caught 13 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. It marked his fourth career game with at least 10 receptions, 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns, tied with Keenan Allen, Pro Football Hall of Famer Raymond Berry and former Texans star Andre Johnson for the third-most such games in a player’s first seven seasons in league history. Only Chad Johnson and Andre Rison (five apiece) have more.
To be sure, scoring five touchdowns without an All-Pro left tackle and big-time running back shouldn’t be dismissed based on competition. Rodgers was sensational. Adams was sensational. The offensive line minus David Bakhtiari made it all work.
However, better competition will reveal whether Green Bay’s offense is elite or if it simply has fattened up on high-calorie, nutrition-free cupcakes. After next week’s game against defenseless Minnesota, the Packers will play at San Francisco, host Jacksonville, visit Indianapolis and host Chicago. The 49ers are seventh in points allowed, the Colts are fifth and the Bears are sixth. Those three games will determine whether the Packers have a championship recipe.