The Aaron Rodgers Return and Effect
Entering Week 15, the NFC playoff outlook appeared generally stable until word broke that the Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, had been cleared to play.
Rodgers has missed eight weeks and is returning to a 7-6 team, yet there is still hope.
At the start of the season, Rodgers threw 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in the first five weeks. The Packers odds are long heading into these last weeks but with Rodgers on the field, they have a chance.
With Rodgers recovering from a collarbone break, backup QB Brett Hundley did all that he could to keep the Packers just outside of the playoff picture. In the seven games that Hundley started, the Packers failed to score over 30 points and managed only three wins.
This is not unfamiliar ground for Rodgers. In 2013, he returned from a similar injury and managed to grab the NFC North title. Last year, Rodgers led a 4-6 team to six straight wins but lost in the NFC Championship to Atlanta.
This year, they have to face off against three of the most competitive teams in the NFC: the Vikings, Lions, and Panthers. Each of these teams are in the playoff hunt, and the Packers, despite Rodgers return, are not in control of their own destiny.
The Packers’ Odds
There are a few outcomes that would place Green Bay as a 5th or 6th seed.
The Panthers would have to end their season 10-6, winning against the Falcons, knocking them out of the playoff picture.
The Seahawks would have to go 10-6 as well, winning two of their last three, to tie with a possible 10-6 Rams team for the 4th or 6th seed. This would put the Packers in the 5th spot.
For the 6th seed, the Panthers would have to knock out the Falcons while losing to the Packers and Bucs. The Seahawks could win-out and Rams would have to win two of their last three and take a loss to the Seahawks.
The Odds Are Against Them
The Packers need a win this week in Carolina. The offensive line will need to stand strong against a defense that has compiled 40 sacks this season. If they lose, and the Falcons win, the Packers will be completely bumped from playoff possibilities.
The Packers chances are still long, but the return of Rodgers is certainly a step in the right direction.