Just four weeks ago Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers sat at 4-8 and looked all but dead in the playoff race. Fast-forward five weeks later, and the Packers are now facing a win-and-in scenario in Sunday’s season finale versus the division rival Detroit Lions.
Just about a month ago there was talk of Rodgers playing in his final game this week. Now he has a chance lead his team into the postseason before he does his yearly offseason retirement charade.
Will Green Bay Packers Make The NFL Playoffs?
During Monday’s episode of “The Rich Eisen Show,” Eisen talked at length about the Packers’ sudden change of fortune.
“Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were left for dead, and … we were part of that conversation as they dropped to 4-8. Hey, his thumb’s broken. Got to see what you have in Jordan Love, right? That was the conversation.”
“No question about it. Dead. Finished. Davante Adams was in such a better position at that point in time in Vegas as they were starting to win games and now blow leads … and here we are … in 2023. The Packers in a win-and-in scenario in Week 18. Still alive … They’re feeling it. And it’s kind of like maybe we’re all on ayahuasca trip.”
Eisen is referring to Rodgers’ use of the plant-based psychedelic that he lives by. The reigning two-time MVP says he won those MVPs after dabbling in the use of ayahuasca.
Packers Survived A 4-8 Start
Following the trade of star wideout Davante Adams in March, many believed the Packers would struggle early. That wasn’t the case as the team began the season 3-1, but they quickly hit a snag, going 1-7 over their next eight games.
During this time Rodgers continually took shots at his young and unproven wide receiver group. Each week he’d throw them under the bus and make sarcastic remarks about their play. At the same time, Rodgers’ play was looking anything but MVP-like, and he received criticism for not leading his team or taking any accountability for the struggles.
Rodgers Stopped Ripping Teammates, Green Bay Started Winning
It wasn’t until a Week 11 win over the Dallas Cowboys that Rodgers began to lay off his pass-catchers. In that game, rookie speedster Christian Watson stole the show, finishing with four receptions for 107 yards, but three of those grabs were touchdowns. That was something Rodgers and the Packers hadn’t seen much of until that point this season.
“We’re 8-8, controlling our own destiny, with a game right here to get into the dance. How ‘bout that?"
Aaron Rodgers was all smiles after the @Packers took down the Vikings at Lambeau.⁰
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 2, 2023
Since that game Rodgers has 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Prior to that game he had 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 25-11 TD-to-INT ratio is respectable, considering he’s had to take more risks without Adams there to be his security blanket. While it’s a stark contrast to his 85 touchdowns and just nine interceptions the previous two seasons combined, Rodgers is getting the job done.
Packers Defense And Running Game Have Been Key
Coming into the season Green Bay’s defense was considered among the best in the NFL. The unit struggled early in the season, as scheme and injuries hurt them. When playing at a high level, their inside linebackers rival that of Tampa, Baltimore and Buffalo. Forcing turnovers was a problem early in the season. Not anymore.
Should the NFC be scared of the Packers if they make the playoffs?
"Aaron Rodgers was talking too much like they're already in. … But if they get in I absolutely give them a chance. They have a run game, a defense & a QB that is not going to make mistakes." — @Chris_Broussard pic.twitter.com/TalCkL9vrF
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) January 2, 2023
As for the running game, they have two great backs in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, but getting former All-Pro left tackle Davis Bakhtiari back is vital to any sustained success going forward.
While nothing is imminent, as they’ll have to beat a tough Lions team to get into the postseason, you have to like Aaron Rodgers’ chances with that game in frigid and sometimes frozen Lambeau Field. They can thank Ron Rivera and his Washington Commanders for the late Christmas gift.