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The 2019-20 Green Bay Packers are all set to prove that their 3rd place NFC North finish in 2018 was about injuries and poor leadership, not about whether their franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers can get the job done with the (arguably) talented roster that surrounds him.
Rodgers ended up as the sixth-ranked NFL quarterback overall last season, and he achieved that despite an injured knee that would have taken most men out of the lineup, or at the very least kept them from being as effective as he was.
The Packers have a new head coach and offensive coordinator for the upcoming season, and Rodgers will be working under a new system as a result, so here we take a look at the odds and predictions of how productive he will be in 2019 under this new regime in Green Bay, as well as analyze his chances to cover the bets.
Aaron Charles Rodgers is a thirty-five-year-old NFL quarterback who was born in 1983 in Chico, California to mother Darla and father Edward, a Texas-born chiropractor and former offensive lineman for the Chico State Wildcats.
At one point during Rodgers’ youth, his family moved to Oregon and then back to Chico, where he began playing high school football for two years as the quarterback at Pleasant Valley High School where he graduated in 2002.
During his time there, Rodgers set the single-game records of six touchdowns and 440 all-purpose yards, and in 2001 he set the single-season school record with 2,466 total yards.
At that time, Rodgers was considered too small (5-foot-10, 165-pounds) to play quarterback at a major university.
As a result, there was little interest in Rodgers from any Division I schools, though the University of Illinois invited him to compete for a scholarship as a walk-on, which he declined.
A junior college nearby, Butte Community College in Oroville, recruited Rodgers to play quarterback for them, which he accepted.
Rodgers was terrific at BCC, throwing 26 touchdowns his freshman year as his team posted an impressive 10-1 record and won the NorCal Conference Championship, earning themselves a number two national ranking.
During the season, the head coach of the California Golden Bears, Jeff Tedford, who had been recruiting BCC tight end Garrett Cross, discovered Rodgers and offered him a scholarship to play.
Typically, players must attend junior college for two years before they are eligible to transfer, but because of Rodgers’ excellent high school academic record, he was allowed to transfer after just one season.
Rodgers became the starting quarterback at Cal in the fifth game of the season, and the Golden Bears posted a 7-3 record with him under center, with Rodgers tying the school record for 300-yard games that season with five.
In his two seasons at Cal, Rodgers threw for 5,469 yards and 43 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions, setting school records for lowest percentage of passes intercepted (1.95 percent) and consecutive completed passes (26).
At the end of the 2004 season, Rodgers decided to forgo his senior year and declared himself eligible for the 2005 NFL Draft.
Rodgers was expected to be selected early in the 2005 NFL draft, and his hope was that the team with the first overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers, would take him, but instead, they took Alix Smith out of Utah.
Then Rodgers had to wait for several hours as teams with no pressing need for a quarterback kept passing on him until the Green Bay Packers finally selected him with the 24th overall pick.
Rodgers signed with the Packers and took a five-year rookie deal worth $7.7 million, with $5.4 million of that money guaranteed, including incentives and escalators that, if met, could bump his pay up to as much as $24.5 million.
As excellent as Rodgers was out of college, his role with the Packers would be to sit on the sidelines and learn the game at the NFL level.
The reason? At that time, Green Bay already had a fairly decent starting quarterback, a successful gunslinger by the name of Brett Favre.
With Favre under center, the Packers had been to the playoffs ten times and he still had plenty of gas left in the tank.
Rodgers was the Packers’ backup quarterback for the next three seasons, 2005 through 2007, and did not get much playing time during that stretch.
In those three seasons, he played in 7 games total and in that time under center had 35 completions for 329 yards and one touchdown.
At one point before the 2007 season, trade rumors circulated – Rodgers for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss – but obviously that never happened because Moss went to the New England Patriots and Rodgers continued backing up Favre, who seemed reluctant at that point to ever retire.
In March of 2008, Favre announced his retirement, essentially making Rodgers the starting quarterback in Green Bay for the upcoming 2008-09 NFL season.
When Favre un-retired shortly thereafter, the Packers double-downed on Rodgers as the starter by trading Favre to the New York Jets.
To anyone who doubted whether this young ‘nobody’ Rodgers could replace the former Super Bowl Champ Favre, Rodgers quickly answered by posting 4,038 passing yards and 28 touchdowns with 13 interceptions in his first season as the Green Bay starter.
Rodgers has led the Green Bay Packers to the postseason in eight of the ten seasons he has been under center as the starter, including a Super Bowl XLV win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 when he was selected as the game’s MVP.
In seven of those seasons, Rodgers has thrown for 4,000+ yards and 25+ touchdowns, his worst seasonal numbers only coming during the years where injuries kept him from playing in all sixteen games.
In his eleven seasons as the Packers’ starting quarterback, Rodgers has been named the league MVP twice (2011 and 2014), has been a 7x Pro Bowler and a 2x First-team All-Pro, a 2x NFL passing leader and the NFL passing touchdown leader once.
The Green Bay Packers just suffered back to back losing seasons for the first time since 1990 to 1991, plus they missed the postseason two years in a row for the first time since 2005 to 2006, so head coach Mike McCarthy was finally fired after 13 mostly successful seasons.
Taking over as the Packers’ head coach is Matt LaFleur, the 39-year-old who spent last season as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator and the season prior doing the same job for the Los Angeles Rams.
Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst spent the offseason filling in roster holes, signing pass-catching tight end Jimmy Graham and finding help for the Packers defense (ranked 18th last season) by snagging two first-round picks (defensive end Rashan Gary and strong safety Darnell Savage) and signing linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
Despite those upgrades and a healthy Rodgers returning, the Packers are not expected to win their division over the surging Chicago Bears this season.
For a player like Rodgers, when healthy, both of these stats totals have been incredibly consistent, so here we use his prior season totals to analyze his chances of beating the odds this season.
Here are Rodgers’ current odds for 2019:
Caveat: Rodgers must play in game one for action to commence.
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Analysis: A healthy Rodgers would have won this over six times throughout his career, including last season when he threw for 4,442 total yards.
Last year, the Packers’ passing attack ranked ninth overall, and now with the added offensive support of recently signed tight end Jimmy Graham and with receivers Equanimeous St. Brown, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison still in the room, expect Rodgers passing numbers to be the same or even better in 2019.
The biggest risk of this and the next bet, however, is whether Rodgers can stay healthy all season, especially given his rested knee that has been weakened by prior injury, because once a player gets as ‘old’ as the 35-year-old Rodgers has, remaining on the field for all sixteen games is hardly ever a given.
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Rodgers has thrown for north of thirty-one touchdowns in just four of his seasons as a starter (though one year he threw 31 and another he threw 30), and last season he wasn’t even close.
The last time Rodgers would have won them over on this bet was in 2016, when he threw for 40 touchdowns and led his Packers to a first-place finish in the NFC North.
Again, if Rodgers can stay healthy (a big IF at this point) and play in all sixteen games, he has a decent chance of beating the over, but with the Bears as tough as they are and the upgraded Minnesota Vikings ready to strike, the under might be more likely for Rodgers in 2019.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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