Rejoice, Green Bay Packers fans. Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers is set to play Sunday in Chicago against the Bears for the NFC North title.
Rodgers, who has been out since week nine with a collarbone injury, was all smiles at a Green Bay press conference Thursday afternoon.
“It feels great. It’s exciting to play after a long lay-off,” Rodgers told reporters. “It was a tough period, but I’m excited to be back in the mix with the guys with this chance.”
Since Rodgers is now ready to play, the Packers’ offense has a whole new element that the Bears must consider. After the way the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed Chicago’s defense Dec. 22, both on the ground and through the air, Green Bay looks set to take home the NFC North title. The Packers already have strong ground men in Eddie Lacy and James Starks; now Rodgers is an added bonus.
Rodgers has led the Packers to victory over Jay Cutler’s Bears every game except one. But both quarterbacks were injured this season – Cutler for separate groin and high ankle injuries – which begs questions about how well the pair can play on Sunday.
The numbers show that Rodgers was the stronger quarterback this season, and he can come back during Sunday’s game to give the Packers another W against Cutler’s team.
Rodgers played in seven full games this season, and the beginning of week nine’s Monday Night Football matchup against the Bears in Green Bay. After he was sacked and sustained a collarbone injury, the Packers went on to lose under backup QB Seneca Wallace.
Yet for the just-over seven games Rodgers played this season, his numbers were strong. His team only lost two games, one to the defending NFC Champion 49ers in San Francisco, and the other to the Bengals in an off-game for Rodgers, who scraped together a 64.5 passer rating.
Despite those two losses, Rodgers still managed more than 2,200 yards, a 66.9 percent completion rate, 15 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 108.0 passer rating.
Cutler’s stats, on the other hand, prove that he’s not near Rodgers’ level. Even with his multiple injuries, Cutler played in three more games this season than Rodgers, yet threw for nearly 2,400 yards – only 200 more than Rodgers. Cutler also has a 63.1 percent completion rate, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 88.1 passer rating.
It’s quite true that numbers don’t tell the whole story. It’s true that the Bears are ahead of the Packers by a half game. Yes, the Bears did beat the Packers Nov. 4 at Lambeau Field for the first time since 2007. And it’s true that the Bears’ defense was the reason why Rodgers has sat out for seven weeks.
But the biggest fact of the matter is Rodgers is eager to play, and he’s determined to play his best.
“This is a fun day for me, but I think the focus needs to be on the game and the opportunity we have to win a division which is our first goal every year,” Rodgers told reporters Thursday. “We’re in it. We have a chance against our rivals, and what’s a better way [than] to go down there and get some redemption and host a home playoff game?”
Unless Cutler can defy what his stats say about him, and unless the Bears can show that the Dec. 22 game in Philly was a fluke, the Packers can easily take home a victory with Rodgers in charge. As he hinted, Rodgers is looking for his revenge for being knocked out half the season. It looks like winning in Chicago is the perfect way for him to cash in.
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