The football game, and the playoffs, seemed to be going through choppy waters after Aaron Rodgers was carted into the locker room following an apparent leg injury. Over 78,000 people at Lambeau Field screamed in exhilaration after watching Randall Cobb catch the touchdown pass from Rodgers to make the score 14-0. All screaming ceased when each set of eyes drifted over to number 12 sprawled out on the field, clutching his left leg. After watching Rodgers fall to the field in a heap without being touched, it was hard not to jump to conclusions and declare him out for this season and most of the next as well.
The crowd chanted “M-V-P” as Rodgers was carted into the locker room with his head hanging. The feeling was poetic, surreal even. The fans were thanking Rodgers for the wonderful season. After all those years of Brett Favre how foolish were we to think the football gods had bestowed another, superior, franchise quarterback who would remain healthy for over a decade. It was football karma coming back to bite the fan-base.
Halftime came and Rodgers was officially announced as questionable to return after suffering another calf injury. Packer fans were mentally preparing for a visit to Dallas next week when suddenly Rodgers was back on our screens, stretching in the tunnel. He was back, and so were the Packers.
With Rodgers on the field the Packers outscored the Detroit Lions 30-6 and the win continued the streak of the Lions not winning in Wisconsin since 1991. The final score was 30-20, and anybody who says that Rodgers getting injured had nothing to do with the Lions rattling off two straight touchdowns has never played a sport. When you are on the opposing sideline and you see the star player of the opposing team get taken out, you get excited. You know that your chance is now. Any good team will take advantage of the opportunity but the Lions fell apart after Rodgers returned. The Packers clinched the second seed in the NFC, guaranteeing at least one more game at Lambeau where Green Bay is undefeated this season.
With the week off, the Packers are allowed some time to get healthy. Us fans are allowed some time to speculate about Rodgers’ impending Most Valuable Player award.
The fiercest competition Rodgers faces for the award comes from former Wisconsin Badger J.J. Watt who has been a wrecking ball along the defensive line for the Houston Texans, becoming the first player ever to record two 20+ sack seasons. Watt has cemented himself as the best player on the defensive side of the ball in the league. Comparing the impact of a defensive lineman to a star quarterback is impossible, though. Watt pioneered the Texan defense last year as well when Houston went 2-14, so how much of an impact on the game can he really be having? Any team that Rodgers plays for all year is almost guaranteed to be at least .500, regardless of the players he has around him. That is because he is going to be the best quarterback in every game he plays, and the quarterback has the biggest impact on every game.
The Packers will return from their bye week to play either Dallas, Carolina, or Arizona. Dallas is a dangerous team so hoping, through clenched teeth of course, for a Detroit upset in Dallas may be what is best for the Packers. The thought of Carolina or Arizona winning in Green Bay is almost unconscionable.
Either way the most likely scenario pits the Packers in a rematch with the Seattle Seahawks with a Super Bowl berth on the line. Do the Packers have the toughness to go into Seattle and win? Seattle won convincingly in the first game of the season and they seem to be clicking on all cylinders at the moment. There are cracks in the team, though, if you look closely. Running back Marshawn Lynch is clearly unhappy and is becoming difficult to control on a week-to-week basis. Quarterback Russell Wilson has reportedly lost the respect of many of his offensive teammates, including Lynch. The crowd and the Seattle defense are always dangerous but going into Seattle and winning is something Rodgers has to get done.
I have said it from the very beginning this season: this team has the look of a Super Bowl winning team. While Dallas coming to Green Bay or Green Bay heading to Seattle will certainly be entertaining to watch, this team has the intelligence and the players to get it done.
Let’s hope they do.