Aaron Rodgers is "not worried" about the Green Bay Packers' slump after they were consigned to a 23-21 defeat by the Washington Commanders.

The Packers suffered a third consecutive defeat on Sunday and are 3-4 after the loss at FedEx Field.

Quarterback Rodgers was defiant after Green Bay fell short in the capital and believes they can stop the rot when they face the Buffalo Bills next weekend.

Asked if making the playoffs still seemed possible, he replied: "You're god damn right it does.

"I'm not worried about this squad. In fact, this might be the best thing for us. This week, nobody is going to give us a chance, going to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football, with a chance to get exposed. Shoot, this might be the best thing for us."

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is backing his team to arrest their slide.

"I don't think anybody thought we'd be in this spot that we're in right now," said LaFleur. "We're going to find out what we're made of in terms of just how we attack Monday, how we attack Tuesday, Wednesday and every day in practice.

"I do believe that we've got the right kind of guys that will continue to battle."

LaFleur says it is not only down to Rodgers to step up and get Green Bay back on track.

He said: "I think it takes everybody. It takes everybody around him. You've got to have the protection in front of you to be able to hold up.

"You've got to have the guys making plays, too. I feel like we had a ton of drops. We had a lot of penalties that put us back behind the sticks."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' dismal season plumbed new depths as they remarkably lost 21-3 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Tom Brady's Bucs had slipped to 3-3 with last week's unexpected defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the team now have a losing record for the first time since the legendary quarterback lost his 2020 debut. Only in 2002, when he missed the playoffs, had Brady previously had a losing record at the end of Week 7.

This reverse was perhaps even more surprising than the Steelers upset, as P.J. Walker, Carolina's third-choice QB, led a Panthers team who had traded away star running back Christian McCaffrey this week.

Following that trade with the San Francisco 49ers, Steve Wilks, the interim head coach since Matt Rhule's October 10 firing, insisted: "There's no such thing as tanking when it comes to myself and the guys in that locker room."

The Panthers backed up that statement by dominating Brady and the Bucs, who were held to three points or fewer for the third time in their three seasons together. A Brady offense had three points or fewer only twice in his entire New England Patriots career.

The Bucs were scoreless through three quarters, in which time Carolina scored two touchdowns – Walker with a 20-yard completion to DJ Moore, before Chuba Hubbard, with just six carries through six weeks alongside McCaffrey, ran in from 17 yards.

Ryan Succop's field goal at the start of the fourth quarter was not to set the stage for a dramatic turnaround, as Walker's 29-yard pass to Tommy Tremble completed the job.

Rodgers also loses once more

Brady's fellow veteran Aaron Rodgers also dropped to 3-4 as the Green Bay Packers lost for the third week running, beaten 23-21 by the Washington Commanders.

The Packers have suffered three straight defeats for the first time since 2018, with Rodgers unable to rally late on after a first half in which he had only 47 passing yards – his second-lowest career mark after 15 or more attempts before halftime.

Dak back but defense dominates

Dak Prescott returned from injury as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions 24-6, although the victory owed more to running back Ezekiel Elliott and the team's defense than their QB. Prescott threw for 207 yards and a TD, as Elliott ran in for a pair of scores while Jared Goff was sacked five times and picked off twice.

Joe Burrow, the Cincinnati Bengals' QB, was far more influential as he threw for 481 yards and three TDs in a 35-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons. That yardage ranks third in a regular season Bengals game all-time, although the 525-yard record already belongs to Burrow (v Ravens, 2021).

The Tennessee Titans' Derrick Henry enjoyed a record-setting performance in victory over AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts, rushing for 128 yards. He has 1287 career rushing yards versus the Colts, the most of any Titan against any one team.

Christian McCaffrey is expected to make his debut for the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Former All-Pro running back McCaffrey was traded to the 49ers from the Carolina Panthers on Thursday for second, third and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-rounder in 2024.

The tight turnaround initially made it look unlikely McCaffrey would be overly involved in a rematch of Super Bowl LIV from the 2019 season.

However, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, McCaffrey will play and the 49ers will have a package of plays ready for him.

The Chiefs will have a new lead runner in their backfield, with rookie Isaiah Pacheco set to get the bulk of the carries over 2020 first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Kansas City's closest rivals in the AFC West, the 4-2 Los Angeles Chargers, face NFC West opponents themselves in the form of the Seattle Seahawks.

They had hoped to have wide receiver Keenan Allen back from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since Week 1, but his status was still up in the air heading into Sunday.

Star Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett is set to play having been listed as questionable with a hamstring injury of his own.

The Baltimore Ravens, another prospective AFC contender, have been boosted with tight end Mark Andrews (ankle) and Rashod Bateman (knee) both active for their meeting with the Cleveland Browns. 

The Dallas Cowboys will not have to defend D'Andre Swift in Dak Prescott's return to action. Detroit Lions running back Swift is once again inactive because of ankle and shoulder injuries.

Detroit's division rivals the Green Bay Packers are looking to end a two-game losing run and get their offense back on track against the Washington Commanders.

Yet they will be without oft-injured left tackle David Bakhtiari because of a flare-up in his knee. The Packers have remodelled a struggling offensive line, shifting Elgton Jenkins from right tackle to left guard. Yosh Nijman takes over at right tackle, with rookie Zac Tom filling in for Bakhtiari.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins will return from a knee injury as Aaron Rodgers desperately searches for targets he can trust.

Not every NFL week is going to be filled with great games. The law of averages says there will be some clunkers.

But it only takes one game to spice up a Sunday, and Week 7 has such a contest in the form of a Super Bowl rematch.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV three seasons ago, the Niners failing to finish the job in Miami having led 20-10 with seven minutes remaining.

San Francisco's first chance for a measure of revenge comes on Sunday, when the 49ers host the Chiefs in a game SmartRatings sees as the best of the week.

SmartRatings is a Stats Perform AI-based platform that provides excitement ratings for sporting events, teams and players. The excitement scale, ranging from 0-100, is powered by complex algorithms that are predicated upon six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.

The weight of each variable is dynamic and adapts as a season progresses. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game), 85-100 (Great Game).

Here, we take a look at Chiefs-49ers clash in the Bay Area and two other games viewed as the most exciting of Week 7 and the key matchups that could decide them.

Green Bay Packers @ Washington Commanders

SmartRating: 54

Win Probability: Packers 74.2%

Key Matchup: Allen Lazard vs. Washington cornerbacks

Randall Cobb's injury means Aaron Rodgers has even fewer receivers he can trust, so Lazard can expect plenty of targets to come his way as the Packers look to end a two-game losing run.

The numbers suggest Lazard will be able to find joy against a vulnerable Washington secondary.

Lazard has won his matchup with a defender, which Stats Perform labels as a 'burn', on 21 of his 32 targets. His burn rate of 65.6 per cent is above the league average of 60.6 for receivers with a minimum of 20 targets.

He has produced a big play on 12 of those targets, good for a big play rate of 37.2 that is 10th among wideouts (min. 20 targets).

Washington's starting corners, Benjamin St. Juste and Kendall Fuller, have allowed 12.27 and 13.15 burn yards per target respectively -- the average for corners with at least 20 targets is 10.05.

Both have given up a big play on over 30 per cent of their targets -- St. Juste (31.3%), Fuller (36%) -- at a position where the average is 25.5. In other words, Rodgers and Lazard should theoretically be able to thrive against both starting corners. If they do, the Packers' passing game might finally get on track and boost Green Bay's hopes of a deep playoff push many anticipated before their underwhelming start.

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

SmartRating: 60

Win Probability: Colts 54.4%

Key Matchup: Jeffery Simmons vs. Quenton Nelson

The AFC South is turning into a dogfight, with the 3-2 Titans leading the 3-2-1 Colts by half a game going into this divisional clash.

For the Colts to make sure the tie with the Houston Texans that separates them and the Titans does not prove costly down the stretch, they need to knock off Tennessee.

Doing that will involve stopping Jeffery Simmons, who has been a force on the interior of the Tennessee defense.

Simmons has beaten a pass protector on 18 of his 23 pressures this season. Only four interior defensive linemen have defeated a blocker on a pressure more often.

However, the Colts have a left guard in Quenton Nelson who has once again been one of the NFL's elite at his position in 2022.

Nelson has allowed a pressure on just 3.1 per cent of his pass protection snaps, giving him the sixth-best pressure rate among guards with at least 100 snaps this season.

The Colts will at least need to slow down Simmons for their passing game to prosper as it did against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the heavyweight battle between two former first-round picks in the heart of the trenches could well decide who takes command of the division.

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49ers

SmartRating: 71

Win Probability: Chiefs 50.7

Key Matchup: Fred Warner vs. Chiefs offense

A Super Bowl rematch between two teams coming off losses was made spicier with the news of San Francisco's blockbuster trade for running back Christian McCaffrey on Thursday.

But McCaffrey is unlikely to have much of an impact if he does play on Sunday given the limited time he has had to absorb the 49er playbook.

More key to the 49ers' hopes of at least partially avenging their Super Bowl collapse is the performance of a player who intercepted Mahomes in that game, Fred Warner.

The 2020 first-team All-Pro is the organisational heartbeat of the 49er defense, the man who plays a pivotal role in ensuring DeMeco Ryans' group is ultra-disciplined and consistently in the right position to make plays.

That discipline fell down in Week 6 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons, in which an extremely banged-up defense struggled to handle the Falcons' array of motions and zone-read runs involving quarterback Marcus Mariota.

San Francisco will get back a host of players from injury this weekend and the defense must do a better job of handling motion against an offense that heavily relies on it and will have to be alert to Mahomes' running threat, which for defenses is a frustrating complement to the wondrous things he can do throwing the ball.

Still, with no Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs' avenues to explosive plays are not as plentiful as they once were, and the 49ers will likely approach Kansas City in a similar way to the Buffalo Bills defense last week, leaning on two-high safety zone coverages in an attempt to force Mahomes to attack underneath.

Warner has allowed receivers to get open in zone coverage on just 10.87 per cent of his zone plays, his zone open rate the best in the NFL among linebackers. With his acumen in that area of the game and the athleticism he possesses to run downfield with Mahomes' primary target Travis Kelce, a bounce-back effort from Warner will be crucial to San Francisco's hopes of overturning odds that are slightly in Kansas City's favour.

Belief is a powerful emotion.

Athletes from a variety of sports over the years have spoken about the power of self-belief that allowed them to overcome the odds and prevail.

In the world of fantasy football, where the stakes are substantially lower, it is easy to lose faith after a few bad weeks given the season is so short.

Still, even as the losses mount, it's important to not get discouraged, trust in your line-up decisions and, most importantly, remember that it's just a bit of fun.

Not everything is going to go right for all your players in every game, but with Week 7 on the horizon, Stats Perform has gone through the numbers and identified four offensive players and a defense deserving of your faith for the upcoming slate of games.

Quarterback: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys @ Detroit Lions

Prescott is finally set to return to the lineup after Cooper Rush kept the Cowboys firmly in the mix during his absence with a fractured thumb.

There may some reticence to roll with Prescott in fantasy in his first game since the season opener. 

Against the Lions, there's little reason to have such concerns. Their defense is allowing 7.37 yards per pass play, the second most in the NFL, while only the Cleveland Browns have conceded more offensive touchdowns than Detroit's 18.

Game flow could work against Prescott putting up a huge fantasy performance if the Dallas defense allows the Cowboys to build a big lead, but there's no reason to expect him to struggle on his return.

Running Back: Kenneth Walker, Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Chargers

Walker backed up his explosive performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5 with a strong showing in Week 6 as the Seahawks knocked off the Arizona Cardinals.

He racked up 97 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries versus Arizona and now gets to face a Charger run defense that has displayed no improvement despite heavy offseason investment.

Only the New York Giants (5.61) are allowing more yards per rush than the Chargers (5.56). Walker already has seven rushes of 10 yards or more this season and, if you have this exciting rookie on your roster, you can afford to believe he will deliver in a substantial way in LA.

Wide Receiver: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Samuel was kept relatively quiet as the 49er offense endured a difficult day in Atlanta last week, failing to score in the second half of their 28-14 loss to the Falcons.

Even so, he still managed seven catches for 79 yards and his fantasy managers who may be worried about a drop-off from the San Francisco attack should stay calm.

The 49er run game sputtered in Atlanta, gaining just 50 yards, but it looked at its best on the two carries Samuel received out of the backfield. 

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan last season turned to putting Samuel in the backfield to give his offense a spark and it produced stunning results. Don't be surprised to see him do the same here.

With the Chiefs level with the Lions with 18 offensive scores allowed, a varied role for Samuel on Sunday could spell a highly productive effort on an offense that may benefit from the return of All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams.

Tight End: Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers @ Washington Commanders

The Green Bay offense is in dreadful shape, with some questioning whether it is broken beyond repair following a dismal defeat to the New York Jets at Lambeau Field.

Aaron Rodgers has called for the Packers to simplify their attack in the wake of that loss. Any huge schematic changes seem unlikely but what is probable is that Rodgers will focus on the few targets he trusts.

One such target is Tonyan, who was last week targeted 12 times, catching 10 passes for 90 yards.

With Randall Cobb on the sideline through injury, Allen Lazard and Tonyan will likely be Rodgers' favoured weapons in the passing game. Whether he can engineer an upturn in Green Bay's fortunes is open for debate, but Tonyan's place in the pass-catching hierarchy for the Packers gives him plenty of fantasy value against a Commanders defense that has allowed 12 passing touchdowns, the second-most in the league.

Defense/Special Teams: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals

Is your faith in the New Orleans defense shaken by the Cincinnati Bengals' comeback against the Saints? Well here come the Cardinals to make everything all better.

The Cardinals managed nine points against a Seahawks team that has allowed 163 this season. Only the Lions have given up more.

On a per-play basis, the Steelers are the sole team to put up fewer yards (4.77) than the Cardinals (4.81).

The Saints' defense is not as fearsome as in days gone by, but it has the benefit of facing an utterly anaemic offense in Week 7 and is worthy of some belief as a result.

Aaron Rodgers believes the Green Bay Packers must find a way to keep matters simple after suffering a second straight defeat, though Matt LaFleur's assessment was blunter.

The Packers slipped to a 10-27 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, a week on from Green Bay having a three-game winning streak ended by the New York Giants.

Those defeats leave Green Bay 3-3 for the season, with the Packers second in the NFC North, trailing the 5-1 Minnesota Vikings.

Quarterback Rodgers, the NFL's MVP for the last two seasons, believes the solution is to go back to basics.

"Simpler. Simplify some things," Rodgers, who was sacked four times against the Jets, told reporters. "All of it. I don't want to get too specific.

"I'm not attacking anything, I think based on how we've played the last two weeks it's going to be at our best interest to simplify things for everybody... the line, the backs, the receivers, especially with [Randall] Cobb's injury.

"Just need to simplify some things and maybe that will help us get back on track.

"[The offense was] very inconsistent. That's why I think we need to simplify things, because on a couple drives we didn't move the ball because it was very simple things.

"It was very simple plays, no motion. So we need to look at everything and the guys that we got and what we can accomplish with them and let's be smart about moving forward."

Coach LaFleur, however, did not hold back in his criticism of the Packers' offense, which has averaged 17.8 points per game through the opening six weeks of the season.

"That's about as frustrating of a game that I've ever been a part of from an offensive perspective," he said.

"We're in a pretty bad predicament right now."

For his part, Rodgers puts no blame onto the coaching staff.

"Nobody works harder than Matt on the plan each week, and nobody comes with better ideas than Matt and his staff," the 38-year-old added.

"If it's not working it's not because those guys aren't grinding, it's because we are not executing. If you think we have the right players, then we need to simplify things. If you don't, that's a whole other conversation."

Kenny Pickett could not finish his second NFL start after going into concussion protocol, but the Pittsburgh Steelers ensured their quarterback could celebrate an unlikely first win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pickett – the first QB off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft – started for the first time in last week's big defeat to the Buffalo Bills.

But the rookie bounced back in some style against Tom Brady, securing a narrow lead before exiting the game midway through the third quarter. The Steelers protected that advantage to win 20-18.

Pickett had thrown his first career touchdown pass to Najee Harris on Pittsburgh's first drive.

A sloppy end to the first half allowed the Bucs to close the gap, but they headed in at halftime without having scored a TD – a first for a Brady team against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh lifted their game again following the restart, trading field goals before a hit on Pickett saw him leave the game, and was then ruled out.

Mitch Trubisky picked up the baton, though, connecting with Chase Claypool for another TD before Brady and Leonard Fournette belatedly responded.

A successful two-point conversion would have tied the game with time left for the Bucs to win it, but Brady's attempt was batted away, and Trubisky saw out only a second Steelers win of the year.

Another New York defeat for Packers on return to Lambeau

The Green Bay Packers gave up a home game to play in London for the first time in franchise history last week, losing to the New York Giants. And a return to Lambeau Field did little to lift Aaron Rodgers and Co., who fell to 3-3 with a 27-10 home loss to the New York Jets.

In fact, the Packers crowd appeared to turn on their team when a blocked punt gifted the Jets – now 3-0 on the road to start a season for the first time since 2010 – a two-TD lead their opponents could not recover from.

The Giants built on their upset of the Packers by doing the same to the Baltimore Ravens. They had trailed Green Bay 20-10 at halftime in Week 5 and were this time down by the same score in the fourth quarter, recovering for a 24-20 win to move to 5-1.

The Atlanta Falcons lost in Week 5 but also had momentum to carry into a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers after a 15-point fourth quarter against the Bucs. Following five straight games decided by seven points or fewer, the Falcons coasted to a 28-14 success.

Ryan extends Jags' miserable road run in AFC South

The Jacksonville Jaguars have not won a road game against an AFC South rival since 2017, a losing sequence of 13 games heading into Sunday's trip to the Indianapolis Colts.

It appeared as though Trevor Lawrence was to lead the Jags to a long-awaited win when the Colts trailed by a point at the Jacksonville 33 with just 23 seconds to play.

But Matt Ryan, having earlier passed Dan Marino (61,361) to climb to seventh all-time for passing yards, completed a pivotal TD pass to Alec Pierce to prolong the Jags' misery.

Aaron Rodgers is off the Green Bay Packers injury report and expected to play on Sunday against the New York Giants although he may need to tape his right thumb.

Rodgers missed practice earlier in the week after injuring the thumb on his throwing hand on the final play of Sunday's 27-22 defeat to the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The four-time NFL MVP was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday however, and the Packers removed him from their injury report on Friday.

"He threw the ball really well yesterday, so he's confident," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters on Friday.

The 38-year-old quarterback practiced with tape wrapped on his thumb on Friday, raising concerns it may impact his ability to make throws.

When asked if Rodgers will wear tape on the thumb in Sunday's game, LeFleur replied: "No idea."

Rodgers has made 114 of 168 attempts with a 67.9 per cent completion rate for 1157 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions this season.

The Packers, who are 3-2 and second in the NFC North, have ruled out rookie receiver Christian Watson and linebacker Tipa Galeai due to hamstring injuries.

Linebacker Rashan Gary, who has had five sacks this season, was listed as questionable on the injury report with a toe concern.

"It's the next man up and the standard doesn't change, but let's face it, the guy is pretty impactful I'd say when he's out on the grass," LaFleur said about Gary.

"Certainly he's a guy that we definitely want in there. When he's not in there I think you can feel the effects of that."


Aaron Rodgers was absent from the Green Bay Packers' practice on Wednesday, but head coach Matt LaFleur is not worried about his availability for Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

Rodgers injured his thumb on the final play of the Packers' 27-22 defeat to the New York Giants at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend.

The reigning MVP threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns, but could not prevent defeat as Green Bay slipped to 3-2 for the season.

Despite missing Wednesday's practice, LaFleur is confident Rodgers will be fit to play against the Jets on Sunday.

"I don't think we have much concern for game day," LaFleur told reporters.

The Packers sit second in the NFC North, kept off top by the Minnesota Vikings, who beat them 23-7 in Week 1.

Back to work in Green Bay. @AllenLazard | #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/ZgdbJXbnN7

— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 12, 2022

There won't be any panic among the Green Bay Packers following their stunning 27-22 loss to the New York Giants.

However, after letting slip a 10-point lead at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, there is undoubtedly plenty of frustration.

Green Bay's progress towards what looked set to be a routine victory in their first game in the United Kingdom could hardly have been more serene. The second half was an entirely different tale.

The Packers had zero issues moving the ball through the first two quarters, and did so without having to ask their back-to-back MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to do much at all.

Indeed, the Packers were able to lean heavily on the run game and the short passing attack in racking up 228 yards at an average of six yards per play in the first half.

But the warning signs were there late in the second quarter, with Giants finding the endzone to give themselves hope, a 40-yard rush on a direct snap from Saquon Barkley helping set up their opening touchdown with 75 seconds to go in the first half as a double reverse play worked to perfection and allowed tight end Daniel Bellinger to find paydirt.

Packers kicker Mason Crosby ensured a two-possession lead with a field goal to bring the opening half to a close, but the Giants had already gained the necessary belief they could spring a turnaround few would have thought possible.

That optimism was soon furthered in the second half, which the Giants opened with a field goal drive before stopping a promising Packers drive with a third-down sack of Rodgers.

From there, a pattern set in, as the Giants tied things up with a 15-play drive capped by a Gary Brightwell touchdown run that was swiftly followed by a Packers three-and-out.

Having moved the ball at will, progressing it down the field suddenly looked an impossible challenge for the Packers, who found no joy on longer developing passing plays that dominated their approach in the final two quarters.

Joy was soon unconfined for the Giants, though, as Barkley – having missed the previous drive through a shoulder injury – surged for 41 yards on a catch and run from Daniel Jones and then burst into the endzone from two yards out to complete the comeback.

Rodgers drove the Packers to the six-yard line in response, but saw a fourth-down pass intended for Allen Lazard batted down before he was sacked on a Hail Mary attempt after an intentional safety taken by New York, leaving the Giants jubilant and Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur to answer questions about a worrying trend.

While the Packers headed to London with three wins, only their Week 2 victory over the Chicago Bears was convincing and, in their Week 4 defeat of the New England Patriots, Green Bay allowed third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe, aided by a run game that averaged 5.1 yards per rush, to take them to overtime.

This week, the Packers were left bemoaning once again failing to perform for four quarters, with a run defense they hoped to have addressed adequately in the offseason proving all too fallible once more, especially on the Giants' game-tying drive on which Jones confounded Green Bay with his ability to make plays with his legs.

"Certainly there's been a lot of struggles – that is this league," LaFleur said of his impression of the Packers' season to this point.

"We just got to be more consistent because there's some moments where we look pretty good. We have yet to put together a complete game as a team.

"It's like every game has been one good half. That's not good enough in this league. You got to play every play like it's your last. If you don't, you get your a** whipped."

Asked about the reasons for the issues with run defense, which have plagued the Packers in significant moments during his tenure, LaFleur replied: "I can't name one thing for you right now.  

"I just know that I thought there were some times where we had 'em in some longer yardage situations. They were able to convert on some long third downs. You can't do that. You can't do that in this league.  

"Coming in, we had the top third down defense in the league. Just didn't execute in the second half."

Though struggling to shackle opposing running backs is not a new problem for the defense, Rodgers and the Packer offense are finding it tough to overcome a difficulty they perhaps did not anticipate at the end of last season, with the future Hall of Fame signal-caller still evidently lacking chemistry with his young receiving corps following Davante Adams' offseason trade to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Rodgers connected with old friend Randall Cobb seven times for 99 yards and found trusted target Lazard on four occasions, including for the Packers' opening score.

No other receiver had more than three catches, however, and rookie wideouts Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson, who suffered a hamstring injury, were essentially non-factors, Rodgers showcasing only a sporadic rapport with the former.

For his part, Rodgers refused to accept a paucity of familiarity as any kind of excuse for the Packers' inconsistency on the offensive side.

"That's a tough question," Rodgers said when asked how close the Packers are to putting a complete game together.

"The cliche answer would be really close. The actual answer is unknown, honestly. There's a standard that we've played at for a long time. Just because the faces change doesn't mean the standard changes. That's a hard concept I think to grasp at times.

"We hold ourselves to a really high standard. I hold myself to a high standard. We're just not quite there yet.

"So I trust Matt and the staff and the conversations we'll have this week that we'll clean some things up. This team, we're five weeks in, and there's a lot of football left. Can't squander any more games like this though because the season is going to be pretty tough."

Rodgers' assessment is a hard one to disagree with. The Packers have a winning record, they will be expected to bounce back at Lambeau Field against the New York Jets in Week 6 and the likelihood is that they will be contesting the postseason again in 2022, yet the standard Rodgers speaks of has been allowed to slip too often in the first five weeks and, come the pressure cooker of the playoffs, a failure to uphold it could leave Green Bay with an all too familiar feeling of January disappointment.

Saquon Barkley is unconcerned whether outsiders take the New York Giants' 4-1 start seriously after they produced a superb comeback to stun the Green Bay Packers in Week 5.

The Giants trailed 20-10 at half-time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the Packers, backed by a raucous crowd, looked set to ease to victory in their first game in the United Kingdom.

However, the Giants flipped the script in the second half to prevail 27-22, with running back Barkley playing a critical role.

Barkley's game appeared as if it could be over in the second half because of a shoulder injury, but he returned after Gary Brightwell punched in a two-yard run to tie the game at 20-20.

And Barkley then took centre stage as the Giants produced a game-winning drive. Barkley moved the Giants inside the red zone with a 41-yard catch and run from Daniel Jones and then took a direct snap into the endzone for a two-yard score that proved decisive despite Green Bay's MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers driving the Packers down to the six-yard line in response.

The Giants were not seen as contenders heading into the season and three wins from the first four games for Brian Daboll's men did little to change that perception.

Asked if a win over the Packers will change minds as to the Giants' legitimacy, Barkley told his post-game press conference: "I don't think it's any statement to the league.

"To be completely honest, it's the NFL. Every time you go against somebody, this isn't college. It isn't like you're playing at Penn State and going against your Week 1 team who is someone you should beat by 40. It's the NFL and it's hard to win in this league.

"For us, we can't even focus on that. If anyone want to take us serious or not, the main thing we got to focus on is interior, inside our building, continue to love the process and continue to get better and continue to lean on each other and find ways to get wins."

The Giants' 4-1 start is their best for 13 years, but Barkley refuses to think too much about their achievements to this point.

"Yeah, it's great start. 4-1. It’s where you want to be. But like I said, you can't get too caught up in it, you've just got to keep working and there's a reason why we're 4-1 and that's because of the process," he added.

"That's because we've got guys coming in and working and believing in the system, setting the culture, setting the standard and following it. That's what it means.

"We've got to continue to do that and if we continue to do that, continue to believe in each other - when we look back at this thing we'll be pretty excited."

Matt LaFleur conceded he did not call a good enough game as a head coach after the Green Bay Packers' collapse in their shock 27-22 defeat to the New York Giants.

Playing in their first game in the United Kingdom, the Packers looked in command at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after building a 20-10 half-time lead.

From there, however, the Packers scored just two points, which came on an intentional safety given up by the Giants at the end of the game, as New York produced a remarkable comeback.

A 15-play, 91-yard drive capped by a two-yard rush for Gary Brightwell saw the Giants tie the game at 20-20 before Saquon Barkley, who finished with 106 yards from scrimmage, averaging over six yards per touch, gave New York the lead with a two-yard run on a direct snap.

Green Bay responded with a drive to the Giants' six-yard line but failed to punch in the tying score, Aaron Rodgers seeing a fourth-down throw to Allen Lazard batted down before he was sacked on a failed Hail Mary attempt in the final seconds.

The Packers had dictated matters in the first half through the ground attack and the short passing game, but the run was a non-factor in the second, as Green Bay was forced to punt after gaining only 46 yards on their first two drives before the failed effort to tie the game.

While LaFleur credited the Giants' defense and their coordinator Wink Martindale for forcing the Packers away from the run, he did take responsibility for an anaemic second-half showing.

Asked if he anticipated going pass-heavy, LaFleur told his post-game press conference: "Just depended upon what they were giving us. Like I said, we had a lot of run-pass cans [options].

"They played a lot of single high [safety coverages], manned us up. Do you want to run into a loaded box or try to get it through the air?

"Unfortunately that didn't work for us. Like I said, give credit. Wink is a guy I got a lot of respect for. He out-coached us in the second half, and they outplayed us.

"Give New York all the credit. They out-coached us, they outplayed us. They definitely wanted it more. It was the tale of two halves. They kicked our butt in the second half. You can't do that in this league.  

"Obviously the plan and the play calls that I gave weren't good enough. 

"We just got to regroup. Everybody's got to look in the mirror and ask themselves what they can do better because it was a collective effort right there in terms of not being able to come out on top. 

"They kept playing. Give New York a ton of credit. I don't think the mindset for our guys was ever to let up. Certainly you look at the results out there. There was too many mistakes. It wasn't just one person; it was a collective effort like I talked about.  

"It starts with myself. I got to be better. I got to be better for this team. We got to demand that we get better in certain areas. It's just disappointing."

The New York Giants produced a stunning comeback to upset the Green Bay Packers 27-22 and move to an improbable 4-1 with victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Green Bay, playing in the United Kingdom for the first time in front of a raucous crowd dominated by Packer fans, dominated the first half and led 20-10 at half-time.

Two touchdown throws from Aaron Rodgers to Allen Lazard and Marcedes Lewis along with a pair of Mason Crosby field goals seemingly had Green Bay in command.

The second of those three-pointers came after the Giants' first touchdown drive, capped by a double reverse touchdown by tight end Daniel Bellinger, which served as a harbinger of what was to come in the second half.

A field goal from Graham Gano cut the deficit to seven points and, after a Dexter Lawrence sack stopped a promising Packers drive, the Giants drove 91 yards on 15 plays with star running back Saquon Barkley back in the locker room nursing a shoulder injury, Gary Brightwell's two-yard rushing touchdown tying the game. 

Barkley returned for the next drive after a quick Packers three-and-out and, having set up the Giants' first score with a 40-yard scamper, he gave New York the lead, getting them into the red zone with a 41-yard catch-and run before taking a direct snap two yards to complete the turnaround.

Green Bay responded with a drive deep into Giants' territory but, on fourth-and-one from the New York six, Rodgers saw his pass to Allen Lazard batted into the air, sealing a remarkable win to drop the Packers to 3-2, an intentional late safety taken by Brian Daboll's men proving immaterial.

The Green Bay Packers have been one of the most consistent teams in the NFL under the leadership of Matt LaFleur.

As a head coach, LaFleur has compiled a 42-11 regular-season record, winning three NFC North titles and guiding the Packers to the NFC Championship Game in two of his three campaigns in charges.

Yet the failure that has contributed to their inability to get to the Super Bowl during LaFleur's tenure has also been consistent.

In the NFC Championship Game at the end of the 2019 season, the Packers were gashed on the ground by Raheem Mostert and the San Francisco 49ers in a 37-20 blowout.

Mostert racked up 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a remarkable display, and a year later as the Packers hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field at the same stage, they suffered a similar if less statistically dramatic downfall.

Leonard Fournette only had 55 yards rushing in the Buccaneers' 31-26 win, but he had a 20-yard score in the second quarter that gave Tampa Bay a lead they never relinquished, and he averaged four yards after contact, again illustrating the Packers' struggles to stop the run.

The offense and special teams were more at fault last season as the 49ers beat the Packers at Lambeau in the Divisional Round, but a nine-yard run from Deebo Samuel gave the Niners a key third-down conversion on their game-winning drive.

When the Packers have needed to stop the run in critical games, they have come up short, and the signs of that problem being fixed in 2022 are not good.

The Packers are allowing at least four yards on 57.8 per cent of carries by their opponents, the highest rate in the NFL, and giving up 4.91 yards per rush on first down. Green Bay's rush average allowed of 4.97 yards per carry is the 11th-worst in the NFL.

Three of the Packers' first four games have seen them surrender over 100 yards rushing, conceding 167 in allowing a poor New England Patriots team to take them to overtime.

Green Bay's issue is not getting into the backfield, as the Packers rank eighth in run disruption rate, according to Stats Perform data.

So why are the Packers still having issues stopping the run? The short answer is tackling.

Their tackle success rate of 73.6 per cent is tied for the fifth-worst in the NFL, with their problems coming chiefly on the left side of their defense. Left inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell has missed four tackles and seen a further two broken, while edge rusher Preston Smith – listed as the starting outside backer on the left side – has also had a pair of tackles broken.

It is certainly not fair to pin all the Packers' run defense struggles on Campbell, but it is clear they are not doing enough as a collective to bring ball-carriers down if they evade the disruption Green Bay creates in the backfield.

This week the Packers face the New York Giants in London and meet a running back in Saquon Barkley who is doing an excellent job of racking up yardage on plays where the defense generates a run disruption.

Indeed, Barkley, the NFL's rushing leader through four weeks, is averaging 3.54 yards per carry when faced with a run disruption, above the average of 3.02.

However, his yards after contact per attempt average of 1.96 yards is below the average of 2.01. So while he might be able to evade defenders who get behind the line of scrimmage, tackle-breaking runs from the 2018 second overall pick should be at a premium.

In that sense, he is something of a test case for the Packers. Green Bay has poured plenty of resources into the problems stopping the run but, if Barkley enjoys significant success fighting through contact at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, it could be a sign that run defense and, more specifically, tackling is an issue that could doom a Super Bowl-ready team once more and require more targeted attention next offseason.

Daniel Jones is expected to be the starting quarterback for the New York Giants against the Green Bay Packers, having recovered from injury.

The fourth-year QB suffered an ankle injury in the win against the Chicago Bears in Week 4 and was briefly taken out of the game, though he made his return to training on Friday.

Jones did not receive an injury status in London on Friday, leaving him set to lead the offense at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

"Early in the week I started feeling better pretty quickly and realised that I was recovering quickly," he said after practice.

While Jones should be passed fit, the Giants' offensive options have been ravaged by injuries, particularly in the wide receiver area with Wan'Dale Robinson (knee), Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and Kenny Golladay (knee) all unavailable.

Despite the Giants' aerial presence taking a hit, Jones remains optimistic, saying: "We've had guys step up throughout the year."

New York are likely to rely heavily on their rushing game again, where Jones and Saquon Barkley have offered a dual threat – the latter standing as the NFL's rushing leader in 2022.

Jones is similarly effective on the ground, having at least six rush attempts in all four contests so far this season and accumulating 193 rushing yards, plus two touchdowns, with Barkley praising the character of his QB.

"He's a gritty guy, he's a tough guy. It does speak volumes when your quarterback has that mindset." he said.

The Giants stand 3-1 heading into the matchup against the Packers, tied with the Dallas Cowboys and behind the Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) in the competitive NFC East.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.