GREEN BAY, Wis. — Aaron Rodgers might have locked up the MVP, but the Green Bay Packers still have the most important prize on the line heading into next Sunday’s regular-season finale at the Chicago Bears.
They have to work to do for the NFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Rodgers shined again in prime time, and really, what else is new? He improved to 6-0 in prime-time games this season with Sunday’s 40-14 win over the Tennessee Titans. It looked all the more glorious in a snow-covered Lambeau Field.
In perhaps pulling ahead of Patrick Mahomes for MVP, Rodgers threw four touchdowns and was 21-of-25 for 231 yards. He went over 4,000 yards for the season and has 44 touchdown passes (one short of his career high). His only blemish Sunday night was a rare interception — just his fifth of the season — on a throw across the field in the fourth quarter.
If Rodgers is the MVP, then perhaps Davante Adams should get strong consideration for Offensive Player of the Year. He caught 11 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns. He ran his league lead in touchdown catches to 17, which tied Don Hutson for the second most in a season in team history. One more and he’ll match Sterling Sharpe’s franchise record.
No matter what Rodgers or anyone else in green and gold did on Sunday night, the Packers knew before kickoff that they couldn’t clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
So this game was more of a measuring stick than a monumental occasion. The Packers (12-3) haven’t been a No. 1 seed since their 15-1 year in 2011, and they’ve never hosted an NFC Championship Game in Rodgers’ time as the starter.
To get the top seed, they will have to beat the Bears, who are playing for a wild-card berth. A loss to the Bears, and the Packers would need help: a Seahawks loss at the 49ers. Both games will be in the afternoon window, kicking off at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Promising trend I: Running back Aaron Jones loves December, and it looks as though fellow RB AJ Dillon does, too. Dillon rushed 21 times for 124 yards — his first career 100-yard game — and two touchdowns, while Jones narrowly missed his sixth career December 100-yard game with 94 yards on 10 carries. Jones ripped off a 59-yard run in the third quarter, although Tennessee should have challenged it because Jones appeared to step out of bounds midway through that run, which set up Adams’ third touchdown catch.
Promising trend II: The Packers’ maligned run defense more than held its own against the NFL’s rushing leader, Derrick Henry. Yes, the Packers sold out hard to stop Henry on a zone-read play and quarterback Ryan Tannehill fooled them for a 45-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Henry rushed 23 times for 98 yards but didn’t have a run longer than 10 yards.
Promising trend III: Second-year safety Darnell Savage had zero interceptions heading into Week 12. The 2019 first-round pick now has four through Week 16. He picked off Tannehill in the first quarter. Savage had two interceptions against the Bears on Nov. 29 and another the following week against the Eagles. He’s the only Packers player with more than one interception this season.