Watch out Detroit. That object in your rear-view mirror may be a little closer than it appears.
In what may have been a playoff eliminator on the NFC side of the ledger Monday night, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers got started on “running the table” by topping the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-13, at Lincoln Financial Field.
Things have been tough for the Packers this season especially over the past month as a rare four-game losing streak had Green Bay buried in third place in the NFC North.
The main culprit in all that losing had been defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ defense, which surrendered 153 points during the skid, an average of 38.3 points per game, and the first time since 1953 that Green Bay has allowed 30-or more points in four consecutive games.
Lost in that, though, was the fact that Aaron Rodgers had begun to play like, well, Aaron Rodgers again.
The former MVP had been heating up just as his supporting cast had been checking out, tossing 15 touchdowns versus three picks while also amassing over 300 yards a game with a completion percentage north of 66 percent in his prior five games coming into tonight’s contest and accomplishing all of that despite lacking any semblance of a consistent running game and being asked to drop back far too often.
Against the Eagles, Rodgers was facing a team that was one of only two unbeatens at home (along with Seattle) and was giving up only 9.5 points per game at the Linc.
The superstar needed the football just twice to shatter that number by setting the tone for the contest with consecutive scoring drives of 75 yards, the first accentuating Rodgers’ mobility skills and the latter showing off his amazing accuracy throwing the football.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are virtually devoid of playmakers on the offensive side of the football and just didn’t have the horses to win any kind of shootout especially with running back Ryan Mathews out with a knee injury and wide receiver Jordan Matthews joining him on the sidelines when injuring his ankle in the game.
Philadelphia hasn’t topped 24 points since star right tackle Lane Johnson left the lineup due to a PED suspension back in early October and when news broke that right guard Brandon Brooks was going to miss the game with an illness, a makeshift offensive line with receivers like Dorial Green-Beckham and Bryce Treggs being a rookie quarterback’s top targets in the guts of the game wasn’t tenable, and you could see how this one was going to shake out.
The lone disappointment in the game for the Packers was the fact that the Eagles’ impressive front did get to Rodgers on a number of occasions and banged the veteran QB up, so much so that you could see his vaunted mobility begin to shrink before your eyes as the game progressed.
But that’s nit-picking at this time of the year as it’s all about survival from week-to-week for both of these teams.
And the biggest injury Rodgers may have to ice on the trip back to the Midwest is a strained back from carrying that declining supporting cast.
The Packers remain the NFL’s equivalent of Michael Corleone with a little twist. Just when you think they’re out, Rodgers pulls them back in.
Yes Detroit (7-4) is still two games up on Green Bay (5-6) with only five to play but the Packers already topped the Lions in Titletown back in Week 3 so if they can make up one more game over the next four weeks where three of their contests are at Lambeau Field (Houston, Seattle, and Minnesota) and just one on the road against woeful Chicago, a Week 17 showdown with the first-place Lions in the Motor City will decide the North.
Check that mirror Detroit.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, CBS Baltimore, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.