Packers Super Bowl Hopes Rest with Aaron Rodgers

After Aaron Rodgers marvelous performance against the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers are in the NFC Championship game. Their opponent, the Atlanta Falcons also represent yet another rematch.

Green Bay has won eight straight games, but the last five have all been rematches. And in those games Rodgers has put up incredible numbers. In all, he has 16 touchdown passes and just one interception, the one he threw against Dallas last Sunday.

Against the Vikings, Giants and Cowboys, Rodgers issued payback for a previously poor performance. In the first meeting against those teams, he threw just four touchdowns and threw four interceptions. He also lost two key fumbles.

However, in the rematches, Rodgers has dominated.

Against the Vikings, the two-time MVP threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns. The Packers scored 38 points. Green Bay matched that point total against the Giants, as Rodgers threw for 362 yards and four scores to win on Wildcard Weekend.

Then, in the Divisional round, Rodgers was at his best again. He dominated a Dallas defense that hemmed him in back in October to the tune 356 passing yards, two touchdown passes and 34 points.

Now, facing the Falcons, Rodgers needs to shine in another rematch.

The first time the two teams met, Rodgers actually played well. He threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns. However, down one with less than a minute to go and the ball, he couldn’t lead a game-winning drive and Green Bay lost 33-32.

That loss is the reason this game will be in the Georgia Dome and not at Lambeau Field. But, looking back, it was possibly the start of Rodgers turnaround.

The offense was far from firing on all cylinders. There was no Jared Cook that day and Ty Montgomery didn’t play either. Rodgers was the team’s leading rusher with six carries for 60 yards and yet he still almost stole a victory.

The Packers team Atlanta will see Sunday is far different from the one it saw in Week 8. But with two hot quarterbacks and two mediocre defenses, the NFC title should be decided in a shootout.

Last Sunday, Rodgers was able to out-duel Dak Prescott and the dominant Dallas offense. In their last six games, the Packers have scored at least 30 points in all of them, three times they scored 38, as well as 34, 31 and 30.

Green Bay will need a similar effort Sunday. The battered defense keeps fighting, but is sorely undermanned. If safety Morgan Burnett can’t go, it could be a long day, where a stop of any kind will be hugely important.

To counteract that, Rodgers must continue to great. He has to keep making plays no one else can make and he has to keep scoring points early and often.

Predicting NFL games is always tough, but this one feels like it will come down the final minutes. The first time that happened, Rodgers wasn’t up to the challenge.

If he gets another chance Sunday, with the Super Bowl on the line, you get the feeling, he will be.

 

 

chris peterson

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