The Green Bay Packers were embarrassed big-time in a horrific Thanksgiving performance against the Detroit Lions, as they were unable to get anything going on offense or on defense. The Lions gave four Thanksgiving presents (turnovers) to the Packers, including a fumble that led to an easy touchdown for safety Morgan Burnett (give credit to OLB Nick Perry for blowing by Riley Reiff on that play). However, the Packers defense was completely dominated for most of the game, especially in the running game. The Lions offensive line manhandled the Packers front seven, as the Packers got very little pressure on Matthew Stafford and were repeatedly gashed by Joique Bell and Reggie Bush on the ground.
Defensive struggles are nothing new to the Green Bay Packers, but they’ve been able to move past those issues due to Aaron Rodgers’s excellence. He’s the best quarterback in the game, and I think some people (people outside of Green Bay who don’t appreciate Rodgers enough) underestimated just how good Rodgers is. He’s on his way to Canton, and he covers up a lot of gaping flaws on the Packers defense and offensive line. I mean, the Packers haven’t won without him.
The general belief is that since Rodgers began practicing in individual drills on Tuesday, he’ll be able to play next week against the Atlanta Falcons, which is a game that the Packers should easily win. The fact that the Packers were blown out by the Lions increases the urgency of bringing back Rodgers, which in turn theoretically increases the chances we see him against the Falcons.
Credit Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, though, for wanting to take the cautious route (at least, when speaking about the injury) with the knowledge that Rodgers’s long-term health is a huge key. Here’s what he said about the chances of Rodgers playing against the Falcons, via ESPN NFL Nation’s Rob Demovsky, “I don’t know that. I just know when we came off the field Wednesday that he wasn’t ready to play yet. So we’ll see how the testing goes, but it needs to be the right thing. I know he wants to play. I know he’s trying to gear up each and every week to play, but we’ll see what happens next week.”
It looks like Rodgers’s status is up-in-the-air right now, and that’s an appropriate description. However, his status will likely be clear once it’s Thursday next week, and the Packers have some philosophical questions to decide. They still have a shot at making the playoffs, but it’s a slim one. The Packers will need to win out and finish 9-6-1, and then hope that their competition (mainly the Detroit Lions) significantly falters. It’s a very uphill battle for the Packers, but they could win out against the Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Only the Falcons are bad of those four teams, but none of those four teams is great.
In all honesty, I would be a bit surprised if Rodgers doesn’t play next week, but there are no guarantees.