The talk surrounding the Green Bay Packers’ defense is usually negative and with good reason over the last few years. It has mostly remained that way this season, especially with everybody looking at NFL’s worst ranked run defense (163 yards per game). However, there are many positive stats being overlooked with Green Bay’s defense so far.

The Packers are only ranked 22nd in the NFL in total defense (371.8 yards per game), but you have to look much deeper into that number. A huge part of the high yardage number for Green Bay is that they’re always on the field. The offense only averages controlling the ball for 25:54 this season, which is second to last in the NFL. The Packers are 10th in yards per play allowed on defense. That is a much more revealing number than the total yardage.

Green Bay ranks second in the NFL in opponent passer rating at 70.1. Three of their five opposing quarterbacks have been Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler. It’s certainly an accomplishment to have the second best opponent passer rating in the league when those quarterbacks have comprised of 60 percent of your schedule. Even though the defense did not have a good day against Seattle it was Marshawn Lynch who really hurt them and not Wilson.

This falls in line with the Packers having the fifth best passing defense in the NFL in yards per game (209). Opposing passers are only completing 59 percent of their passes against Green Bay for 6.4 yards per attempt. That is good for seventh and fifth in the NFL respectively.

You will be hard pressed to find a better corner group in the NFL than Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House. They are certainly doing their jobs. The safety play is also much improved with Morgan Burnett playing better and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix playing well in his rookie year. It will be even better if Clinton-Dix replaces Micah Hyde as the starter permanently.

Green Bay also is +6 in the turnover margin, which is tied for the best in the NFL. If you win the turnover battle in the NFL you’re going to in the game the vast majority of the time. That may be simplistic, but often times is true. The much improved pass rush has been the key to those turnovers.

If you get 16 quarterback hurries on any quarterback like the Packers did against Christian Ponder you will be successful. Julius Peppers has the best PFF pass rushing grade out of any 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Clay Matthews looked like he was back to full speed last week. Mike Daniels and Datone Jones have been getting good interior pass rush for most of the season. Nick Perry continues to make plays when given the opportunity.

This all adds up to the Packers allowing 21.2 points per game, which is good for ninth in the NFL. Obviously, that is the most important number. Yes, the run defense needs to improve, and it did against Minnesota when they played more 3-4.

Does this mean you can trust the Packers to stop good teams in January? Their recent playoff performances definitely make you skeptical in that regard. They have a lot of trust to regain. Slowly but surely they may be regaining some of that trust.


Matt Bove is a writer at You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.