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Why Jimmy Garoppolo is having a really similar season to...Aaron Rodgers?

The media and public view Rodgers and Garoppolo very differently, but they’re actually playing really similarly (and well).

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After 11 weeks of the NFL season, I looked up the NFL MVP betting odds to see how Las Vegas views how valuable 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is compared to some other popular players.

Garoppolo currently sits at +2500 (ninth-best odds), while Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers sits at +900 (fourth-best odds). While the two quarterbacks duel on Sunday Night Football this week as their two teams jostle for playoff positioning in a tight NFC, it got me thinking — are the two signal-callers really having that different of a season?

Rodgers has history on his side, having played in 175 games, racking up MVPs and a Super Bowl ring — so fans and the media tend to assume that Rodgers’ out-of-the-world performances are carrying the Packers to wins this season. On the flip side, Garoppolo has the better offensive play-caller, defense, and running game, so it seemingly discredits him in these quarterback comparison debates. Yet the numbers from this season are showing something else.

Let’s look at some surface-level statistics for the 49ers’ and Packers’ signal-callers:


Garoppolo — 18

Rodgers — 17


Garoppolo — 10

Rodgers — 2

Passing Yards per Game:

Garoppolo — 247.8 YPG

Rodgers — 271.8 YPG

Completion Percentage:

Garoppolo — 68.8 percent

Rodgers — 64.8 percent

Yards per Attempt:

Garoppolo — 7.8 Y/A

Rodgers — 7.8 Y/A

Net Yards per Attempt:

Garoppolo — 7.0 NY/A

Rodgers — 6.9 NY/A

Passer Rating:

Garoppolo — 97.7 Rtg

Rodgers — 102.7 Rtg

Total Quarterback Rating (QBR):

Garoppolo — 57.7

Rodgers — 56.5

Garoppolo edges Rodgers in touchdowns thrown, completion percentage, net yards per passing attempt, and QBR, while Rodgers has the edge in passer rating, interceptions, and passing yards per game.

Right off the bat, the majority of the statistics look pretty similar — except for interceptions. Rodgers has always been a low-interception thrower, he’s extremely careful with the ball and limits his number of interceptions thrown.

Garoppolo, on the other hand, has been giving the ball away at a high rate, but not all of the ten interceptions are his fault, a few of them were due to tipped balls.

Now, here’s a deeper dive into some advanced statistics, including some quarterback efficiency ratings, courtesy of The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin.

EPA, which stands for expected points added, is a metric that’s calculated between each play to show how a team’s chances of scoring have improved (or worsened) from the last play to the current play. If the number if positive, the chances have increased; if it’s negative, the number has decreased.

Garoppolo currently ranks seventh in the NFL, with 0.25 EPA per play, while Rodgers ranks 11th at 0.22 EPA per play. We’re splitting hairs, but it’s a metric showing that Garoppolo’s slightly more valuable to his offense in improving their chances for scoring each play.

The Packers’ quarterback will have the tougher test on Sunday, facing a stout 49ers’ defense, that’s ranked as the No. 2 overall defense, per DVOA. Garoppolo should outshine Rodgers, given the fact that he’s playing at home and playing the weaker defense, ranked 18th per DVOA.

After Sunday’s performance, hopefully, more across the national landscape start to see that Garoppolo and Rodgers have a more similar season than most would admit.