No Jordy Nelson, no problem. Aaron Rodgers and company withstood a slow start by their offense and took over the wild card playoff game against the New York Giants to the tune of 38-13. The score wouldn’t indicate it, but the game was actually much closer than Packers fans would have liked, with the game a close 7-6 in favor of the Packers just seconds before halftime. At this point, Rodgers was having a pedestrian day after a 4-11 start, Jordy Nelson was about to be ruled out for the game due to what would later be revealed as multiple broken ribs, and the Packers running game was nowhere to be found.
Enter Aaron Rodgers, the man who took over for Brett Favre and has since surpassed him in most Packers fans minds as the greatest quarterback to ever don the green and gold. Rodgers has proven himself to be the Hail Mary master, practically requiring that the play be renamed Hail Aaron after he converted his third touchdown in 12 months on the rarely-converted play. The way Rodgers throws his Hail Mary is unlike any other in the NFL right now. If you have some time, go online and find the fans video shot from the last second touchdown against the Lions last year, and you can see the height that Rodgers reaches at the top of the arc of his throw. He throws a parabola into the end zone, and he did it again Sunday to find Randall Cobb alone in the back for the easy basket catch. Just like that it was 14-6 headed into halftime and the Packers wouldn’t look back the rest of the way.
Their reward for defeating the Giants is a rematch with the NFC’s best, the Dallas Cowboys. Earlier this season Dallas embarrassed Green Bay 30-16 in a game that never felt like the Packers had a chance. The benefit of playing the Cowboys is that their offense is led by two rookies in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Even if they are the two best rookies this year, they have still never experienced playoff football before and they’ve never had to play this many games in a season. The downside is that even though they are rookies, they play behind easily the best offensive line in the game, so any game-time jitters might not have an opportunity to take hold because they will have yards and yards of space between them and the nearest green jersey.
There is no denying that this game is going to be tough for the Packers. If this is the end of the road for the Packers this year, there will be no shame in losing on the road to the best team in the NFC, even if it will feel like the Packers once again fell short of their ultimate preseason goal. The Packers can beat this team, if only because they will have the best player on the field in Aaron Rodgers.
Prediction: Green Bay 24 Dallas 21