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Who Won The NFL Weekend? Aaron Rodgers, The Cyborg Sent To Destroy The NFC

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What a season for Aaron Rodgers. After the Packers got off to a slow start, we jumped the gun by a few weeks and claimed Rodgers was “back” from his struggles when the Packers were at 4-3. Three weeks later, they were sitting at 4-6, on the edge of falling out of the playoff race. Sure, the issues in Green Bay stemmed more from the ragged pass defense and nonexistent run game, but still — it was grim. Rodgers, however, publicly said, “I feel like we can run the table,” which earned scoffs at the time, but lo it has come to pass.

The Packers finished the 2016 season on a six-game winning streak, capped off with a primetime victory over the Detroit Lions to once again win the NFC North. The Lions ended their year on a three-game losing streak, and now have to travel to Seattle if they want to keep their season alive past Wild Card weekend. The Packers’ defense is now as injured as it’s ever been in the secondary, but even with castoffs manning the outside, the Lions couldn’t keep pace with Rodgers at his best.

You could feel the pressure the Lions were under to keep pace with the Green Bay offense every time they had the ball, and it resulted in Matthew Stafford forcing a lot of throws to score quickly, like the decisive interception late in the game, which Stafford forced to Golden Tate at the goal line when Micah Hyde was draped all over him. Hyde played well in the game, but he’ll likely be picked on by opposing quarterbacks in the postseason.

It may not matter, however, if Rodgers is making demoralizing plays like this one:

He held the ball for nearly nine seconds, an impossible amount of time for any secondary to handle. The Giants have perhaps the best secondary in football, however, and that matchup will be the most fascinating of Wild Card weekend. The Big Blue pass rush has been excellent at hurrying quarterbacks, but below average at actually bringing them down, which sounds deadly against the best quarterback in the league, both overall and especially at extending plays. It will be strength vs. strength, and it will come down to Rodgers extending his run of brilliant play to overcome what might be the aforementioned Hyde guarding — gulp — Odell Beckham, Jr.

Before we move on, let’s just take one more look at that legendary run Rodgers just had. Since his “run the table” comment, his per-game stats: 71 percent completions, 278 yards, 2.5 TDs and zero interceptions. He hasn’t thrown one pick since his comments, which the Giants will have to hope comes to an end next Sunday, because as of now, he doesn’t look human, and Giants fans are preparing for the worst.

Other Week 17 Winners:

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Let’s spare a thought for that Giants secondary, before Rodgers possibly destroys it beyond all recognition. Outside corners Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple have been one of the best combos all season (probably behind only Aqib Talib and Chris Harris in Denver), and Landon Collins might be an All-Pro safety, but DRC was the one who sent Washington home early with this interception:

It was his second interception of the game, and his fourth in the last three games. He also had a sack and only allowed one catch for five yards on passes thrown his way, while switching between his normal slot position and filling in on the outside for Jenkins, who only played a partial game being eased in from a back injury. The Giants’ offense was once again subpar on Sunday, but when the Skins started moving the ball, it was DRC who provided the big plays. He will need to bring some more against the Packers.

Tony Romo: Hey, look who got into a game! Romo had perhaps the ideal Week 17 for him, as he only played one series, but was excellent in leading a touchdown drive, which he capped off with this vintage pass:

Did it actually prove anything? Of course not. The Eagles had nothing to play for, and the fact they shut down Mark Sanchez after means equally little. Romo didn’t prove he can stay healthy for a full game, much less a full season, or that he can avoid turnovers the way Dak Prescott has this season. The Cowboys were never going to leave him out there long enough to either get hurt or perform well enough to reignite a QB controversy. But that drive had immense psychic value.

First of all, should Dak turn back into a pumpkin, the Cowboys can feel as if Romo is ready to go. But more importantly, Romo bolstered his trade value, so that teams looking for a veteran QB will be forced to pony up serious capital to win the bidding for the best one to hit the market since Peyton Manning went to Denver. If he can keep his spine or collarbone from shattering, Romo’s got a couple of good years left, and he should have the chance to start outside of Dallas for them.

The Browns: Heck, they’ve had a tough year, and Week 17 had exactly two meaningful games, so let’s throw Cleveland one more bone to close out the regular season (don’t make a Dawg Pound joke, don’t make a Dawg Pound joke). They came dangerously close to closing out an abysmal season by beating the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell and screwing themselves out of the top overall pick, but they managed to save it in overtime with a very Browns-like comedy of errors. Fear not, Cleveland — your analytics-focused front office pulled off the tank job, and now has the first and 12th overall picks with which to start the rebuild. Who’s ready for Myles Garrett in brown and orange?



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Who Won The NFL Weekend? Aaron Rodgers, The Cyborg Sent To Destroy The NFC

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