The fate of the Green Bay Packers against the Indianapolis Colts will be decided by Aaron Rodgers. Simple as that.
I know it’s not the most dynamic analysis to say that the game rests on the quarterback. But in terms of the Packers vs the Colts Sunday at Lambeau Field, I really do feel, Green Bay’s hopes rest with Rodgers.
While the Packers 4-3 record is nothing to write home about, I’ve recently become more bullish on the Packers. I think they are about to go on a run and the reason I think that, is the Rodgers we once knew is back.
We’ll know more come Sunday night, but if Rodgers continues his recent trend, the Packers could once again be trending as a Super Bowl contender.
And believe it or not, Rodgers, who has been widely criticized at times this year (myself included), seems to have turned a corner.
His season-long numbers have started to stabilize. He is now averaging 248 yards per game. His passer rating is 96, he’s completing 64 percent of his passes, has 17 touchdowns and has thrown just four interceptions. Also his yards per pass is 6.4. That’s not great, but at one time, it was 5.8.
Particularly over the last few games, especially against Chicago and Atlanta, Rodgers has gotten back to normal.
Even in the loss, his numbers weren’t terrible. Just a few bad throws and costly mistakes. Maybe instead of rock bottom, that was a sign of things to come — we just didn’t see it.
But including that game, over the last three outings, Rodgers is averaging 288 yards per game, has a completion percentage of 72.4, a passer rating of 106, a yards per attempt of 6.4 and nine touchdowns, compared to two interceptions. He’s also the team’s leading active rusher (Eddie Lacy is currently on IR and thus inactive).
His low yards per attempt can maybe be attributed to basically no running game and therefore no play action. But in truth, I think the short-passing game is one of the things that has him back on track.
I think a few things are still holding his numbers down there. Yards after the catch needs to improve and that includes more accurate throws from Rodgers and more broken tackles by receivers.
Green Bay also needs more deeps plays. Jordy Nelson had one last week — he needs to make more. Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis should also get a few shots down the field.
But beyond that, Rodgers has been stellar. Seeing him come up short the final drive was disappointing, but a hot start against the Colts will erase that memory quickly.
If the Packers can get healthy defensively, Sunday might not be so bad. But the Colts passing attack is explosive and they boast speed all over the field. Unless Quinten Rollins plays, their speed could be a problem.
The pass rush will help and so will the run defense, both of which should be strong. Yet, at the end of the day, Rodgers play will probably determine the outcome.
There was a stat I saw this week about how few fourth-quarter comebacks Rodgers has. And it’s true, he doesn’t have a ton (14 game-winning drives, 10 career comeback wins) but there’s a reason for that and it has nothing to do with whether or not he’s clutch.
I think we have all seen Rodgers get it done in big spots. The Super Bowl comes to mind; so do the playoffs the past two seasons. His performance against Dallas in 2014 was epic and he spurned a pretty important field goal in the final minutes in Seattle. He also had a pretty-clutch Hail-Mary against Arizona.
The point is, he’s plenty clutch. But when Rodgers and the Packers are at their best, he doesn’t need to be, because when he’s at the top of his game, he will kill teams with fast starts.
Rodgers has been so good at starting fast in his career and that’s why he hasn’t had to attempt a ton of comebacks. And start fast, is what he will need to do for the Packers to win comfortably against Indianapolis.
That’s what I expect to happen this week. The Colts will battle and I’m not saying it will be easy, but what I think I know coming into this game is two things: Rodgers is back and the Packers are about to roll.
We’ll see Sunday if I’m right on either front.