ALAMEDA -- To outside observers, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are winning a different way this season under new head coach Matt LaFleur.
Through six games, the Packers rank 17th in the NFL in total offense and 14th in points per game. Despite LaFleur's reputation as an offensive guru, the Packers have been relying on a much-improved defense to win games early on, with the offense scuffling thanks to injuries to receivers Davante Adams and Equanimeous St. Brown.
Rodgers, now 35, has put together serviceable numbers through six games, throwing for 1,590 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers are good, but they aren't what we've become accustomed to seeing from one of the most talented quarterbacks in NFL history.
While the numbers haven't been Rodgers-esque, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden still isn't looking forward to the challenge of facing the future Hall of Famer on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
"Rodgers is still working the snap count, you see him beat Denver with the hard count," Gruden said Wednesday after practice. "He's magnificent scrambling, creating offense is uncommon. It's just unbearable to watch. I hate watching this guy. He's fun to watch, but he's really not fun to watch when you got to play against him. He still has a very quick trigger, deadly accurate, a lot of overall athleticism and a great competitor. You saw it again the other night."
Gruden and the Raiders exit their bye week at 3-2 and in the thick of the AFC West race. The Silver and Black responded from a Week 3 drubbing at the hands of the Vikings by beating the Colts and the Bears on the back of an efficient run game and a brilliant game script from Gruden.
The Raiders' grueling road trip continues in Week 7 with a trip to Green Bay to face Rodgers, a guy who has been giving advice to quarterback Derek Carr since he came into the league. Carr wants him and Rodgers to have a different conversation after Sunday's duel.
"When we go out there, it's going to be a tough, physical football game," Carr said. "You never underestimate Aaron Rodgers. The guy -- he can do whatever he wants with a football. He's like a magician back there. It's fun to watch. I've had great conversations with him throughout my career. He's been awesome in helping me with stuff and things like that, but hopefully, we can beat him this week and that would feel much better than having to ask him questions knowing they beat us again."
Carr and the Raiders will look to their balanced attack for success at Lambeau Field come Sunday. While the Packers defense looks a lot better from the leaky units of the Mike McCarthy era, Green Bay still is surrendering 124.5 yards per game on the ground and is giving up 4.9 yards per carry, which means Josh Jacobs should get the ball early and often as the Raiders look to control the game against another difficult opponent.
Getting an early lead will be Step 1 of the Raiders' plan to leave Green Bay with a win. The second and much more difficult part of the equation will be keeping Rodgers from going into his bag of tricks and tormenting the Raiders secondary.
Best of luck.