Aaron Rodgers’ perfect breakout is bad news for rest of NFC

Aaron Rodgers and first-year coach Matt LaFleur definitely appear to be on the same page, which could spell trouble for the rest of the NFC.

Rodgers finished with the first perfect single-game passer rating of his career, throwing for five touchdowns and running for another as the Packers improved to 6-1 with a 42-24 rout of the Raiders at Lambeau Field.

Even without top receiving target Davante Adams (toe) for a third straight game, Rodgers completed 25 of 31 passes for 429 yards, putting up the most points Green Bay’s offense has managed under LaFleur after Mike McCarthy was canned 12 games (4-7-1) into 2018.

“I think this was the most complete I’ve played [this season],” Rodgers said. “I feel like this has been coming, I really do.”

Rodgers mostly had leaned on a running game led by Aaron Jones and a big-play defense through Green Bay’s first six games, throwing for just eight touchdowns. But he connected on TD passes to Jones, Jamaal Williams and Jake Kumerow for a 21-10 lead at halftime. He also scrambled for a 3-yard score and flipped a 3-yard toss to Jimmy Graham in the third quarter and a 74-yard pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fourth for his first game of five touchdown passes since 2015.

Green Bay sits atop the NFC North, with divisional wins already over Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit.

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron RodgersGetty Images

“That’s how I want it to look,” LaFleur said Sunday about his offense. “This is the National Football League. It’s not going to be like that every week, but our guys … I thought they were locked in.

“I think we’re starting to learn our players a little bit better, what they do really well. I think the communication’s been on point between coaches and players. Today it came together.”

The Bear Minimum

The Bears couldn’t win with their starting quarterback back in the lineup against a team that hasn’t lost since its starter was injured.

The Saints held Mitch Trubisky and Chicago’s offense under 200 total yards until the final minutes (252 total), winning their fifth straight game since Teddy Bridgewater replaced Drew Brees (thumb) in a convincing 36-25 victory.

New Orleans (6-1) also was without running back Alvin Kamara (ankle/knee) and tight end Jared Cook (ankle), but Latavius Murray ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Bridgewater was 23-for-38 for 281 yards and two touchdowns, including nine receptions for 131 yards by Michael Thomas, to improve to 5-0 as the Saints’ starter.

Trubisky, who suffered a shoulder injury in Week 4, led the Bears (3-3) to two touchdowns in the final 2:36 after the Saints had built a 36-10 lead.

Kirk’s Starship Enterprise

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings also are on an offensive roll. Cousins threw for four touchdown passes without an interception to keep Minnesota one game behind Green Bay in the division race with a 42-30 shootout win in Detroit, their third straight victory after a 2-2 start.

Kirk Cousins
Kirk CousinsGetty Images

“I thought Kirk had a heck of a ballgame, made some big throws. He’s playing very free right now,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s playing very well. He’s playing the best I’ve seen him play since he’s been here, obviously. It’s a credit to him and the offensive coaches and I feel like we’re playing to his strength.”

Cousins’ first touchdown strike was a 25-yarder in the first quarter in the back of the end zone to top-target Adam Thielen, who suffered an injured hamstring on the play and did not return to the game.

“I thought our offense did a phenomenal job of being balanced all game long, moving the football a variety of ways,” Cousins said. “I think it’s a credit to other players. … When you can run the football well, it also takes the pressure off that loss [of Thielen].”

Still Perfect

San Francisco has allowed 10 total points over its past three wins, improving to 6-0 for the first time since 1990 with a soggy 9-0 win in Washington.

The game was scoreless at halftime, but Robbie Gould made field goals of 28, 22 and 29 yards for the Niners, who held Cleveland to three points two weeks ago and the rival Rams to seven last week.

They are the first team since 2005 to limit an opponent to seven or fewer points and fewer than 200 net yards of offense in three consecutive games.

Bad Beats

Wildest finish of the day had Tennessee favored by two points and up by three with the Chargers on the Titans’ 1-yard line with under a minute to play. An initial Melvin Gordon touchdown run was overruled by replay with 34 seconds remaining. On the next play, Gordon was ruled to have fumbled short of the goal line by the replay official. Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey recovered with 15 seconds remaining to barely give the Titans a 23-20 win and the late cover.

Also, the over-under on Jacksonville-Cincinnati had dropped from 44 to 43 ¹/₂ in some places before kickoff, so of course Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton took a meaningless 1-yard plunge with 27 seconds remaining for a 27-17 loss to the Jags.

The Hurt Locker

In addition to Thielen’s injury, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan left the Falcons’ 37-10 blowout loss to the Rams with an ankle injury. Ryan was seen after the game wearing a walking boot on his right foot. He didn’t play after getting strip-sacked by Aaron Donald in the third quarter, with veteran backup Matt Schaub playing the rest of the game for the Falcons (1-6). ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported afterward that the Falcons don’t believe Ryan suffered a “serious” injury.

Post Patterns

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson completed only nine passes for 143 yards but he also ran for 111 yards and a touchdown in their 30-16 win over Seattle, his second straight game with over 100 rushing yards. … Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters scored on a 67-yard interception return from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson — the first pick he’s thrown this season — in his first game for Baltimore following last week’s trade from the Rams. … Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 40,000 passing yards (147 games), breaking Ryan’s record of 151, in the Lions’ loss to the Vikings. Stafford threw all four of his touchdown passes to Marvin Jones, who entered with one TD reception this season. Jones became the first Detroit player in the Super Bowl era to haul in four touchdown catches in one game. … Rams quarterback Jared Goff rebounded with 268 passing yards and two touchdowns without an interception as the Rams halted a three-game losing streak after starting the season 3-0 with a 37-10 win over Atlanta. … Bills cornerback Micah Hyde returned an onside kick 45 yards for a touchdown with 1:38 remaining to seal 5-1 Buffalo’s 31-21 decision over winless Miami. … Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, starting ahead of the benched Josh Rosen, drew Miami within three with an 11-yard TD scramble seven seconds earlier. The Dolphins actually led 14-9 after three quarters, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw TD passes to wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley in the fourth. … Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 131 yards and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in Jacksonville’s 27-17 win over the Bengals. …Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal had six catches for 106 yards, including two of QB Jacoby Brissett’s four TD passes, in Indianapolis’ 30-23 win over Houston. … Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in place of benched starter Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s win over the Chargers.

Three Stars

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback
Rodgers completed 25 of 31 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns — and ran for another score — as first-place Green Bay improved to 6-1 with a 42-24 win over the Raiders.

2. Jacoby Brissett, Colts quarterback
Andrew Luck’s replacement has 14 TD passes and just three picks in Indy’s unexpected 4-2 start with another big day (326 yards, four scoring throws) in a 30-23 win over Houston.

Chandler Jones
Chandler JonesGetty Images

3. Chandler Jones, Cardinals linebacker
Talk about keeping up with the Joneses. Arizona dropped Giants rookie Daniel Jones eight times and Chandler Jones registered a career-best four of those sacks in the Cards’ third straight win.

Quote Of The Day

“It takes you back to being a kid. You’re out there sloshing around and your shoes are full of water and mud. It’s still a kid’s game at the end of the day. Guys had a lot of fun slipping and sliding out there, but winning’s always fun.”

— 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman after San Francisco improved to 6-0 with a rain-soaked 9-0 win over Washington.

Fantasy Insanity

  • Aaron Rodgers was without his top WR on Sunday against the Raiders, it was a surprise his next two top targets even played. Yet the fantasy legend turned in his greatest fantasy performance: 429 passing yards, five passing TDs, one rushing score and 43.8 fantasy points. He had not posted five passing TDs in one game since 2015, and his only other six-TD game came in 2012, and all of those were passing.
  • David Johnson was declared active before what looked like a primo matchup against the Giants, but instead it was Chase Edmonds who ripped up the Big Blue defense (27 carries, 126 yards, three TDs). Johnson was limited at practice all week. It will be hard to trust him again unless he gets a full week of practice.
  • Evan Engram caught just one pass for just 6 yards on just five targets against the Cardinals — easily his lowest totals of the season in what was the best matchup he will get all year. Maybe it was coaching, maybe it was bad QB play, maybe it was weather. This is the leading candidate for the biggest fantasy disappointment of the year.
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