Tha Sports Junkies 101

Rodgers Makes Sure No Christmas Miracle Is Needed Versus Vikings

Aaron Rodgers versus Vikings - NFL Bob Harvey via


Rodgers, Packers Move One Game Closer to NFC North Crown

After the Green Bay Packers (9-6) were blown out in Washington week 11 by the Redskins, many wrote off the Packers as done. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t one of those people.

His “run the table” prediction was seen by most as just another sports cliché, but his players saw it as the greatest nod to his belief in them. Since his remarks they have won five in a row, including Saturday’s 38-25 win over the Minnesota Vikings (7-8), a victory that eliminated Minnesota from playoff contention. Possibly an early Christmas present from Rodgers to Packer Nation?

The fans weren’t the only ones that Rodgers, quite literally, was passing out gifts to. In yet another MVP-like performance, Rodgers dished out four touchdown passes to three different players, as well as running one in for himself. In total, he completed 28 of his 38 passes to 8 different receivers for 347 yards, good enough for a 136.6 QB rating.

In Rodgers last six games he has passed for 1,718 yards on 69.8% passing and 14 touchdowns to 0 interceptions (119.2 QB rating). These marks all rank at the top of the league during the stretch. The NFL’s 3rd ranked pass defense stood no chance for the sizzling hot Packers offense, allowing their first 300 yard passer of the season. In fact, it seems no defense can stop Rodgers and company at the moment.

During their five game win streak Green Bay has faced four teams that rank in the top 10 in pass defense ( Houston – 2nd, Minnesota – 3rd, Chicago – 6th, Seattle – 7th) and thrown the ball with relative ease against all of them. And a lot of credit for recent success can be given to Jordy Nelson and his continued quest to regain his 2014 form.

In Saturday’s first half, against the wishes of head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings defensive backs chose to single man cover Nelson based on position on the field, rather than giving the match-up to Xavier Rhodes as instructed.

Nine catches, 145 yards, and two scores later they found out why Zimmer wanted to keep the All-Pro Rhodes on him.  Nelson’s two touchdowns bring him to 14 on the season, most in the NFL, and place him 3rd all-time in Packers history with 63, breaking a tie with Donald Driver.

Rodgers and Nelson also broke a tie with Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman for most touchdowns for a duo, officially sitting at 59. It’s been obvious all season that Nelson’s lost year due to an ACL tear in 2015 has rekindled his passion, and he is reminding everyone more and more every week just how dangerous he can be.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers again relied upon their “bend don’t break” philosophy. Despite allowing Sam Bradford and the Minnesota offense to gain nearly 450 yards of offense, they only surrendered 13 points until 4th quarter garbage-time.

Nearly 30% of Bradford’s 382 passing yards came in the 4th while Green Bay was sitting back in a prevent, and it rarely seemed they had a real shot at making a game of it. The one exception came near the end of the first half as the Packers were forced to punt just before the two-minute warning up 21-13.

Because it had happened so many times before, most people within Lambeau Field were probably bracing for a late-half touchdown and a negative momentum shift going into the locker room yet again. The now healthy Clay Matthews had other ideas.

On second and short with under a minute remaining, Matthews came untouched with a full head of steam off the right edge and blindsided Bradford to force a fumble. Mike Daniels quickly scooped it up and gave the Packers the ball at the 46-yard line with 54 seconds until half.

Rodgers would find Geronimo Allison for a 32-yard gain on the next play, and eventually run it in himself four plays later with no chance for the Vikings to answer.

Matthews play was the game-changer, setting Green Bay up with a 28-13 half-time lead instead of possible tie game, and as of late that’s what the Packers defense has provided. Even though the numbers show that they had a rough night, if they continue to win the turnover battle (2-0) they’ve done their job. Now just one win away from reaching the playoffs and winning the NFC North, all the mid-season struggles seem miles away for the hottest team in football.

It only seems fitting that the season comes down to a “win or go home” game for the Packers, and they should feel right at home, because Rodgers and his men have had to play that way for nearly half the season. Green Bay surely provided a very clear message to the Detroit Lions on Saturday, they’re coming for the NFC North crown in week 17.