Aaron Rodgers has made 213 career starts over the past 15 years for the Green Bay Packers.
Never in that time has Green Bay been a double-digit loser.
That seems likely to change this week.
Most sportsbooks currently list Buffalo as 10.5-point favorites over Green Bay. If that line holds, it will be the first time since Dec. 19, 2010, that the Packers will enter a game as double-digit underdogs.
That night, Rodgers was sidelined with a concussion and host New England was a 14-point favorite over Green Bay.
In the week before that game in New England, then-Packers coach Mike McCarthy shouted, “We’re nobody’s underdogs.”
McCarthy was also right.
Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw for three touchdowns that night and nearly led the upset of the year, before New England rallied for a 31-27 victory. However, that loss helped restore confidence to a struggling Packers team, and they embarked on a six-game winning streak that didn’t end until they defeated Pittsburgh in the 45th.the Super Bowl.
“New England wasn’t just a good team, it was a great team,” said Ryan Pickett, that Green Bay’s nose tackle. “And when the coach called us ‘no one’s underdogs,’ he seemed to cheer everyone up a little bit.
“If the guys needed a jolt, that was it. We knew we had a great team, but I know people were starting to doubt us too. I guess it was time to show that we weren’t anyone’s underdog and that’s what we did.”
Then-Packers right guard Josh Sitton agreed.
“I think that New England game was definitely a turning point,” Sitton said. “Obviously our goal is to go out there and win every game, but we went and showed them that we can play anyone. I definitely think it was a turning point in our season.”
Whether the 2022 Packers can find similar inspiration as a double-digit underdog remains to be seen.
Green Bay has lost three straight for the first time under fourth-year coach Matt LaFleur. The Packers (3-4) are also under .500 for the first time in seven games since 2006.
Green Bay is a disaster on offense, ranked 23rd.dr in the league in points per game (18.3). The Packers’ special teams are having problems again and the defense has cracked in the most important moments of the games.
“Our guys are extremely disappointed,” LaFleur said after Green Bay lost in Washington on Sunday. “I don’t think anyone thought we would be where we are now. Let’s find out what we’re made of
“I think we have the right kind of guys that will continue to fight. It’s just that we have to train better, we have to play better, we have to execute better. It’s not good enough.”
Buffalo, on the other hand, has been the best team in the NFL this season, getting off to a 5-1 start that includes impressive road wins against Kansas City, Baltimore and the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
The Bills rank first in the league in total offense (440.8) and total defense (281.5). The last team to finish No. 1 in both categories was the 1996 Packers.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen is the favorite for MVP, throwing for 17 touchdowns and 1,980 yards in just six games. Allen has also rushed for 257 yards and two more touchdowns.
Buffalo is coming off a bye week and will be well-rested on Sunday night. Green Bay has been punched in the stomach for three weeks straight.
So it’s no surprise that the Packers are substantial losers.
“I’m not worried about this team,” Rodgers said after Sunday’s loss to Washington. “In fact, this could be the best thing for us. This week, no one is going to give us a chance, going to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football, with a chance to put ourselves out there… Excuse me, this might be the best thing for us.”
We will see.