Why The Packers Are Peaking At The Perfect Time

The bye week is here for the Green Bay Packers and it is time to regroup. There are issues and concerns and things to sort out.

Issue No. 1: Aaron Rodgers has a broken pinky toe and whether to have immediate surgery or not is a dilemma. 

Issue No. 2: Aaron Rodgers has been in the spotlight for his comments over the past several weeks, from the revelations about his COVID-19 “immunization” and again for his remarks about “COVID toe.”

Issue No. 3: Aaron Rodgers remains in a holding pattern with the organization, having feuded with the front office for more than a year.

Yeah, there’s something going on with Aaron Rodgers.
Yet here’s the thing … despite the new reality that sees Rodgers make as many headlines for his off-field thoughts and actions as for his quarterbacking play, Green Bay is set up as well as anyone else coming down toward the end of the campaign.

In a truly unusual season where no team has been great, the Packers are the best of the “good,” and have plenty to feel upbeat about as they head into their bye week, with five games remaining in the regular season.

“Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers do not have to be in love,” FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd said on “The Herd.” “Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, for 20 years, never went to dinner. Not a one time. Didn’t share coffee. It was fine. Bunch of Super Bowls.

“Green Bay is the best football team in the NFL and I’m not sure it’s close right now. They can win shootouts. They’re missing five or six of their best players. It doesn’t matter. I don’t know where their flaw is. I don’t know how you attack them. This is Aaron Rodgers’ best team. They’re loaded. They’re good at everything. What’s this team going to look like when it’s healthy?”
Even with the Arizona Cardinals sitting at 9-2, the 9-3 Packers look to have the most legitimate track to the NFC’s No. 1 seed, which comes with a first-round bye and home-field advantage. Which, when frosty Lambeau Field gets brought into the equation, is far from insignificant.

They’ve got three dream opponents coming up on their schedule: the hapless Chicago Bears, the hopeless Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns, possessors of perhaps the most unconvincing 6-6 record imaginable. They’ve got a shot at home revenge against the Vikings, who topped them in overtime recently, and just a solitary head-to-head with a heavyweight, when they visit the Baltimore Ravens a week before Christmas.

A far thornier schedule awaits for the Cardinals, who must not only match but top the Packers’ record, on account of their head-to-head loss earlier in the season. Similarly, the 8-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers likely feel they need to end up a full game clear of Green Bay, on account of their three losses all coming in the NFC, hindering their tiebreaker hopes.

“You always want the bye week to work to your advantage,” head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters. “A chance to recharge the battery and potentially get some of these guys that have sustained injuries to get back into a better position to be close to 100%. 

“It is encouraging that we are sitting where we are right now having had to battle through so much adversity. Getting guys who normally wouldn’t get as much playing time as we have, that will help us down the stretch.”
Rodgers seems to revel in the weirdness these days, using each fresh controversy to fuel his fire. The disruption began when Green Bay drafted his heir apparent in Jordan Love before last season and there has been a lot more since.

It was a popular view that the awkwardness of his situation with the Packers, with his restructured contract seemingly pointing to an offseason departure for somewhere new, would negatively impact the team’s play, especially after a Week 1 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Instead, the team has shown consistency amid misfortune ever since, and look primed to peak at just the right time.
“I’d say it’s a pretty damn good start,” Rodgers said. “It’s been a lot of adversity for sure. When I step on the field I expect greatness. Anyone who is a great competitor feels the same way. I don’t lean on excuses.” 

The oddsmakers are taking notice, listing the Packers at +750 (FOX Bet) to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, while the Rodgers storyline continues to play itself out.

And the fact that it feels like Rodgers and the Packers have all that room to improve – and they’re still flexing their muscles at the forefront of the NFC race – well, that’s an ominous warning.