The Green Bay Packers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week 38-31 in a nail-biter, but the Packers game against the rival Chicago Bears next week will still be for the NFC North title and a playoff spot. The Detroit Lions completely blew their chance by losing in overtime to the New York Giants, and the Bears were mauled in embarrassing fashion by the Philadelphia Eagles 54-11 on Sunday Night Football. If Aaron Rodgers is cleared to return this week, then the Bears horrendous defense has definitely been put on notice. Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and the other excellent Bears skill position players should be able to cause the Packers defense some issues, though, especially with Clay Matthews out with an aggravated thumb injury.
According to ESPN NFL Nation’s Rob Demovsky, Aaron Rodgers stated on his radio station today that the Packers will make a final decision on their star QB’s status for this week’s game on Thursday. The Packers are still worried that Rodgers will aggravate his broken collarbone, since the face of the franchise hasn’t had eight weeks to completely heal from the injury. It’s been admirable watching the Packers allow their unbiased team doctors to make the final call on Rodgers’s status, and that sort of agenda-free management serves the best interest of the players and the team in the long run. This is how injuries should be managed, and anyone criticizing the Packers might as well be wishing ill to Rodgers. As we saw last season with Rob Gronkowski and Robert Griffin III, aggravations are very real and rushing back players from injuries simply isn’t worth it- no matter the stakes (the Dallas Cowboys had better take that hint when it comes to managing Tony Romo’s injury).
Regardless, Aaron Rodgers is drawing closer to a return, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him out there. He wants to play as badly as anyone, especially since this week’s game is the difference between making the playoffs and staying at home. Rodgers wants to be part of a storybook kind of ending to the Packers season (much like his 2010 campaign), but I’m sure he recognizes that the cautious route is the best route with significant injuries to star players.
Rodgers says he feels great and obviously really wants to play (plus, it was the Bears who caused him to suffer this injury), but it seems like he isn’t optimistic about his chances of being cleared by team doctors. I would tentatively expect Matt Flynn to get another start this week, but we won’t know until Thursday- sit tight until the official word comes out after Christmas and be sure to enjoy your holiday. Overall, Rodgers’s status seems like a total 50/50 guess, and it continues to be one of the toughest decisions to make.