After missing seven weeks with a broken collarbone that he suffered early in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers is going to get the start this week for the Green Bay Packers in Sunday’s decisive matchup against the Bears. The Packers have done an incredible job of playing things cautiously with Rodgers’s injury, and they should be applauded in every way possible for bringing him along slowly. The risk of an aggravation is severely decreased, and Matt Flynn did well enough to help the Packers be in a position to win this week’s game. Rodgers’s return and the likely return of explosive wide receiver Randall Cobb will give the Packers a big spark, and they are now the favorites this week. It’s also possible that the Packers end up being the “team that gets hot” in this year’s playoffs, so that’s something for Packers fans to watch for and potentially look forward to.
But how will Rodgers fare out in his first game back from the broken collarbone? I think it’s safe to say that Rodgers is in for another big day, especially since the Bears defense is one of the worst in the NFL. They were lit up by the Philadelphia Eagles last week and allowed 54 points in that critical contest, and their safeties have been very suspect in coverage this year. With Charles Tillman still out, the Bears corners will also have issues defending the myriad of receivers on the Packers, especially if Cobb returns (even on a limited basis).
Although Eddie Lacy missed practice yesterday, he’s fully expected to practice today and play this week, and he’s been on an absolute tear all season. He’s been at his best over the last few games, and Lacy’s rushing has really alleviated a lot of pressure off of Matt Flynn. With Rodgers back in the fold, Lacy should receive more favorable looks from the Bears defense, as they will be plenty worried about Rodgers knifing through their pass defense. Look for Lacy to have a big day against a porous Bears run defense, and that will definitely help Rodgers out.
Before being injured, Rodgers was once again having an elite season with 15 touchdowns, just four interceptions, and an absolutely amazing average of 8.8 yards per pass attempt. The Bears defense? Not only have they struggled to put pressure on the quarterback at a consistent rate, but they also allow an unseemly average of 7.3 yards per pass attempt. They can take some solace in the fact that they do a very good job of forcing interceptions, but that’s just about the only thing this pass defense can hang their hat on.
This game could very well be a shootout, so I’m predicting 35 pass attempts for Rodgers and an average of nine yards per attempt due to his own greatness and the struggles of the Bears secondary. 35 attempts and nine yards per attempt equates to 315 passing yards, and I also expect Rodgers to complete roughly two-thirds of his passes (his season average). While there are some worries that Rodgers will be rusty in his first game back, I don’t share those concerns. First of all, elite players like Rodgers are rarely ever rusty. Secondly, he’s been practicing quite a bit lately, so he’ll get back into the swing of things quickly on Sunday.
24-35, 315 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT is my prediction for Rodgers’s final stat line on Sunday.