The euphoric belief that Aaron Rodgers would lead the Packers on a Super Bowl run upon his return evaporated in less than 48 hours with their loss and the Falcons’ Monday night win. Having him back wasn’t good enough against the Panthers, so how good will it be against a better Vikings team, bitter rivalry or not? Also, this is the team that broke his collarbone in the first place. There just are no good signs for the Packers in this one.
It’s their second meeting in three weeks; the Saints won in Atlanta last time, saved by the dramatic Deion Jones end-zone interception. The importance for both teams’ playoff chances can’t be overstated. The challenge for the Saints is stopping Julio Jones; for the Falcons, it’s slowing Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Trust the Falcons’ defense more, and trust Jones just about as much.
The Panthers may have a lot of what they call “distractions” this week, but they won’t be distracted enough to let the bad-luck (and bad-playing) Bucs come into their building with this much at stake and let them take this game. The way Cam Newton is playing lately brings to mind how hurt he had to have been all of last season, from beginning to end, because it simply looks like an aberration in hindsight.
As resourceful and resilient as the Patriots continue to prove themselves to be, let it not be forgotten that they needed the break of the year (the touchdown reversal at the end) to beat the Steelers. Being just as resourceful and resilient should be good enough against the Bills, who are not laughingstocks lately. They might not break a lot on defense, but Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy should be able to bend them a few times.
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