The Green Bay Packers are not only what the Minnesota Vikings could be, but what they could be. In under two seasons, Packers head coach installed a strikingly similar offense to what the Vikings also have run the last two seasons, and overcome a decade of Ted Thompson’s ‘No Free Agents, EVER!’ philosophy of team building.
I recently covered the similarities between the Packers and Vikings’ offenses and why that’s more frustrating than encouraging.
But that’s not why I’m here. Instead, I’m here to … Ugh… cover the fact that the Green Bay Packers are headed to their first NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field under the ageless Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers faced the top defense in the NFL in the Los Angeles Rams and still managed to put up nearly the same amount of points that they had averaged during the season as the too scoring offense in the NFL (32 vs. 31.8) while putting up nearly 500 yards of offense against a Rams team that was first in the league in terms of pass yards allowed and third for rush yards allowed.
Aaron Rodgers had nearly 300 yards passing on 23-of-36 passing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Aaron Jones was one yard short of 100 with 99 yards on 14 carries for a staggering 7.1 yard per touch average (and a touchdown).
Packers receiver Allen Lazard sealed the game with a long touchdown, although the drops that have plagued him and Marquez Valdes-Scantling reared its head as Lazard dropped an earlier dagger from Rodgers.
The Rams may have had a shot in this game if they had better quarterback play. Overpaid liability Jared Goff only mustered 174 yards and a touchdown on 21-of-27 passing with a touchdown, with emerging star Cam Akers piling up 90 yards on 18 carries for a 5.0 average (with a touchdown).
The Packers will face the winner of tomorrow’s Divisional Round game between divisional foes Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints in a game that could be the last for both Tom Brady and Drew Brees (who has said that he will retire after this season).
Whomever the Packers face it’ll be the first NFC Championship played at Lambeau for the Packers. Ironically the stadium will be mostly empty thanks to COVID, although the crowd at Saturday’s game was pretty loud considering. According to the odds they are the favorite team to come out with the victory next weekend at home, which could end up being one of the biggest quarterback battles in recent memory.
Rodgers vs. Brady? Rodgers vs. Brees?
Should be a good game regardless of the outcome, and that should both hearten and frustrate Vikings fans as the Vikings offense should be the best in the NFL. The fact that they had strikingly similar numbers as the Packers without a good offensive line or with the risk averse play-calling instituted by Zimmer shows that the sky could be the limit for the purple if they draft a guard like Wyatt Davis in April and finally take advantage of the quarterback they’ve paid a ton of money for in Kirk Cousins.
Remember that the last team to beat the Packers in regulation was the Minnesota Vikings, a team that is this close to becoming an actual contender in the NFC. That means it definitely won’t happen, but it’s fun to dream.