NFL Betting: Nelson's Return Should Boost Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Monday, July 11, 2016 9:11 PM GMT

Is Aaron Rodgers the best quarterback in the NFL? That argument certainly could be made, although he has never led the league in passing yards. For 2016, Rodgers has a total of 4,270.5 yards on NFL odds.

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Aaron Rodgers 2016 Passing Yardage Total
It might be hard to believe, but NFL training camps are right around the corner. And because Green Bay plays Indianapolis in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, Aug. 7, those teams are allowed to begin camp earlier than all other teams if they so choose. The Packers' veterans report on July 25 to St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisc.

And all eyes at the start of camp will be on Green Bay No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson, as he was badly missed by Rodgers last year. Nelson tore his ACL in a preseason game with Pittsburgh. Nelson was coming off his best season in 2014, named first-team All-Pro after posting career highs in receptions (98) and yards (1,519). The guy can do it all and formed the NFL's best duo in 2014 with Randall Cobb. Rodgers' passer rating on throws intended for Nelson were 150.2, 130.3, 111.6 and 128.2 from 2011-14, respectively. Just for a point of comparison, Seattle's Russell Wilson led the NFL with an overall rating of 110.1 last year.

Rodgers slipped to a rating of 92.7 in 2015, only 15th in the NFL without his top target. That was his worst mark since taking over as a full-time starter for Brett Favre. Rodgers had a number of 112.2 in 2014 with Nelson around. Rodgers' completion percentage (60.7) was his worst as a full-time starter last year as well. His 3,821 yards were his fewest in a season in which he played at least 15 games. Rodgers averaged just 6.7 yards per pass attempt, an 18.3 percent dip from his career mark of 8.2. Green Bay's passing offense sank to 25th, its lowest ranking since the strike-shortened season of 1987.

So clearly Rodgers missed Nelson quite a bit. I can pretty much guarantee you that you won't see Nelson in a preseason game this year. I'm quite sure the Packers will be extremely cautious with several of their top guys.

Cobb's production slipped in 2015 as well. Without a real deep threat like Nelson opposite Cobb, defenses were able to focus on Cobb, who is primarily a slot receiver. He had 79 catches for 829 yards and six scores. In 2014, those numbers were 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 TDs. Cobb also suffered a punctured lung during the team's NFC playoff loss to Arizona in January.

The Packers' No. 3 receiver battle is between Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery, Jared Abbrederis and rookie Trevor Davis. The team had high hopes for Adams when he had a very promising 2014 rookie season, but he never stepped up last year. Adams was plagued by drops and was perceived to have a bit of an attitude problem.

As for Rodgers, he's reportedly in the best shape of his career after cutting dairy from his diet this offseason. Really, a Cheesehead cutting diary? Blasphemy! Rodgers also underwent knee surgery shortly after that loss to the Cardinals. He played in all but 10 of the Packers' offensive snaps in 2015 and did not miss any practice time because of the knee.

Rodgers' career high for passing yardage is 4,643 in 2011 (despite missing a game). He won his first NFL MVP Award that year. Rodgers won again in 2014 when he threw for 4,381 yards and led the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio (38 TDs, 5 INTs). He also finished second in passer rating (112.2) and yards per attempt (8.43). Rodgers is the +450 favorite on NFL odds to win another MVP this year.

The NFL Network recently ranked Rodgers as the No. 6 overall player in the NFL. Rodgers topped the list in 2012 following his first MVP season and was voted second last year. No. 1 on this year's list was Carolina's Cam Newton, the reigning NFL MVP. He was 73rd in 2015.

The Packers should return to Super Bowl contender status this season assuming good health. They are +1000 second-favorites on NFL picks to New England to win it. Green Bay opens the season Sept. 11 in Jacksonville.

Free NFL Pick: The one caveat with all these player total bets is you have to make sure he stays healthy. So presuming that I would go 'over' the yardage total.