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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 12:19 AM

Even in a low priority preseason game, a passing line of 19-23-0-204 is SHARP. Those are strong numbers if you're just playing catch in the backyard!

Aaron Rodgers only had four passes hit the ground for the Green Bay Packers Friday Night in a 24-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. You’ll see in a moment that Green Bay as a team wasn’t truly in regular season form (particularly on third down conversions). But…Rodgers has the look of a guy who’s going to hit the ground running when the season starts in two weeks.

If you watched the game on CBS, you know it was a fortunate win for the Pack. Indy led 21-13 for much of the fourth quarter. Green Bay scored a very late TD…converted a two-point conversion…recovered an onside kick…then kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired. Easy cover for the Colts at +9 (another “millionaire” winner for Wayne Root!). And, it’s it a straight up finish nobody’s going to remember in a couple of months anyway.

Let’s see if there’s anything memorable in the numbers that handicappers should consider as they handicap these teams in coming weeks. We’ll also look at St. Louis/Kansas City too.

GREEN BAY 24, INDIANAPOLIS 21

  • Total Yardage: Green Bay 345, Indianapolis 291
  • Rushing Yardage: Green Bay 45, Indianapolis 112
  • Yards-Per-Play: Green Bay 4.7, Indianapolis 4.8
  • Third Downs: Green Bay 19%, Indianapolis 33%
  • Turnovers: Green Bay 1, Indianapolis 1

As odd as it is to say given that great passing line for Rodgers, the Packers overall actually looked sluggish much of the night. Green Bay was horrible on third downs…and only scored 10 points when Rodgers was on the field. Note the low number of rushing yards. We’ve emphasized over the years, and again this summer, that rushing yardage is a huge indicator stat because those yards come with less risk. Green Bay was surprisingly outrushed badly by the Colts here. Indy controlled most of the game, until that wild finish vultured a win for the visitors.

In Friday’s other game…

ST. LOUIS 14, KANSAS CITY 10

  • Total Yardage: St. Louis 321, Kansas City 309
  • Rushing Yardage: St. Louis 170, Kansas City 58
  • Yards-Per-Play: St. Louis 4.5, Kansas City 5.1
  • Third Downs: St. Louis 59%, Kansas City 21%
  • Turnovers: St. Louis 2, Kansas City 0

Kansas City coach Todd Haley continues to hold back in August. At least Kansas City wasn’t routed this week. That was largely due to turnovers. They actually WERE routed in rushing yardage and third down conversions. A couple of St. Louis giveaways prevented the Rams from winning by a more impressive score. Sam Bradford was 9-16-1-95 for a passer rating of 87.2. The rating was helped by two touchdown passes. Matt Cassel was a very poor 6-13-0-59. He’s a known quantity, so that’s probably more a reflection of team philosophy in the Preseason than anything else.

There are nine games on the Saturday schedule now that the Jets-Giants affair has been moved to Monday Night because of hurricane Irene. We’ll run the numbers from as many games as we can for you here late Saturday in the overnight report.

In Friday’s pennant race news

The Texas Rangers bounced back from three bad losses to Boston with a blowout win over the LA Angels. That’s the only series this weekend where divisional contenders are going head-to-head. Let’s crunch some numbers from that game.

TEXAS 11, LOS ANGELES ANGELS 7

  • Total Bases + Walks: LAA 24, Texas 33
  • Starters: Haren 4.2 IP, 6 ER, Holland 6.2 IP, 1 ER
  • Vegas Line: Texas -120, total of 8.5

David Murphy had a grand slam homer for Texas (those are getting contagious). Nelson Cruz had two dingers. Another hot night in Arlington, with game time temperatures registering at 105 degrees.

The Halos have to be disappointed that Dan Haren allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings. Tough to adjust to this park. Derek Holland only allowed one run in 6.2 innings, before the bullpen gave everyone a late thrill.

Texas extends its lead in the AL West back to three games after giving the Angels recent hope.

*In the AL East, both Boston and the New York Yankees lost badly to non-contenders because of poor pitching performances from their starters. The Red Sox still lead by one game. Oakland has been wreaking some havoc in the Northeast this week! Note that the A’s have now won 7 of 10, and are 21-18 since the All-Star Break. That may not sound like a great record…but they’ve probably been playing better than you had realized given their full season record of 60-71.

*In the AL Central, both Detroit and Cleveland won…so the Tigers maintain their six game advantage.

*In the NL West, both Arizona and San Francisco will finish after publication deadlines. The Diamondbacks held a three-game lead entering the evening.

Be sure you’re back with us Saturday here at the VSM blog. The Network Notebook picks back up with its college conference previews by reporting on the Sun Belt. Independents will close out the series Sunday…setting up the start of regular season play on Thursday. Be sure to check for details on at least one VSM handicapper releasing a GAME OF THE YEAR in Saturday action. We’re back with you late to crunch some numbers.

Thanks again for being a VSM blog reader!

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