Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers cocks back just before firing a game-winning touchdown pass in the 2015 playoffs against the Cowboys at Lambeau Field. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

 

I have a tendency of putting my foot in my mouth.

I’m probably doing it right now.

My mouth kind of just runs, and runs, and runs some more, until I offend or upset someone, and then I get slammed.

But this time, I’m pulling a complete 180 and defying logic and my favorite test, the eye test.

After ANOTHER lackluster, uninspired, downright pathetic effort from the Green Bay Packers in Sunday’s 24-17 loss at Minnesota, I finally took off my homer hat and let the great, invincible Aaron Rodgers have it.

 

      The “best quarterback to ever play the game,” according to many national talking heads, has outplayed guys named Mitch Trubisky, Blaine Gabbert, Josh Allen and Brock Osweiler, two aged 24 and younger and two with arms no stronger than Mike Ramczyk’s (semi-kidding ha).

      The ACTUAL NFL QB’s, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford and Alex Smith, have THOROUGHLY bested 12.

      With a head coach incapable of change or inspiring any passion from his players, along with your highest-paid player no longer able to make magic, the end is here.

      McCarthy and Rodgers are in the middle of a nasty divorce, and it’s showing in their forced “public appearances.”

      Even with 5 straight victories, which is an impossibility based on what anyone has seen from this team, the Packers finish 9-6-1 and most likely miss the playoffs for only the 2nd time in Rodgers’ nine full seasons as a starter.

      I hate to admit this, but it may be the Bucks and Brewers time to finally surpass Green Bay, which is doomed to mediocrity as long as a declining 12 takes up the majority of the payroll the next 3-5 years.

 

My initial reaction Facebook post, an emotional rant that only two people liked, but several commented on telling me how wrong I was, isn’t that far off.

Rodgers has been terrible this season, according to his standards, and the Packers have paid for it.

At 4-6-1, this team not only doesn’t look like it will make the playoffs this season, but it may not be good for a few years based on the lack of talent and impending expiring contracts.

But have no fear, the optimist is here, and while personally I feel it’s a huge long shot for this team to make its first postseason appearance since 2016, here are five reasons why they will.

So Packer Nation, take a deep breath, enjoy the next few days and rest easy knowing your hopes and dreams haven’t been completely annihilated.

There is hope!

 

  1. Have you seen their schedule?

Green Bay hosts Arizona and Atlanta the next two weeks, followed by road games at Chicago and New York Jets, and finally a home game against the Detroit Lions.

Four teams with a losing record and the Bears, who are 8-3 and sport a good defense, but don’t play particularly well against Aaron Rodgers.

If the Packers can win the next two and get to 6-6-1, maybe they can finally wake up and find confidence and pull off a shocker at Soldier Field.

The meaty portion of the schedule, and man was it brutal, but the best is yet to come.

 

  1. Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, we think

Perhaps the most gifted physical specimen of a quarterback has been here before.

In 2014, he famously said “R-E-L-A-X” and proceeded the lead the Packers to a division title, playoff bye and NFC title game.

In 2016, with Green Bay at 4-6, he predicted the squad would run the table, which it did, all the way to the 2017 NFC Championship game.

While his passer rating is its lowest since his first year as a starter in 2008, along with his completion percentage, Rodgers is dealing with a hint of old age and old body, a hobbled offensive line and a group of receivers young enough to not know who Eminem is.

I know, that’s just sad. Everyone knows (and loves) Eminem.

Home cooking this weekend will be Rodgers’ Chicken Soup for the Soul in a big, get-right win.

I see him going absolutely bananas for 400 yards and at least four touchdown passes in an ugly rout.

Everyone will get back on the same page, and maybe the Super Bowl and NFL MVP will once again feel that burning desire that once made him fall in love with the game.

The body language, leadership and determination have not looked the same from 12 this season, and a victory Sunday could be the “galvanizing moment” he’s talked about.

I know, it’s absolutely crazy and downright stupid to think this guy can keep pulling off Houdini acts on the football field, but he can.

 

  1. The defense isn’t that bad

For all these losses, four in five games, you can’t necessarily pin them on the defense.

First-year coordinator Mike Pettine’s bunch has talent, plays hard and keep the offense in games.

Giving up 29 points to the explosive Los Angeles Rams, 17 in three quarters to New England and allowing only 24 to a supremely talented Minnesota offense can’t be overlooked.

Pettine has dialed up the right mix of blitzes, Jaire Alexander is a stud and Kenny Clark is an emerging star in the middle.

Say all you want about the at times nonexistent pass rush, but Kyler Fackrell has a respectable eight sacks, and Clay Matthews can still get home when needed. Matthews has also been playing the run well.

If Randall Cobb can come back from injury to join Rodgers, and he gets hot like he tends to do late in seasons, I see the defense benefitting.

 

  1. NFC isn’t great

Minnesota, Washington, Carolina, Seattle, Philadelphia.

Not only do these teams not scare anyone, they all have at least five losses except the Vikings, which have to play at New England Sunday.

With five games to play, sure, the Packers have to miraculously win out, but if they do, two or three of these teams could slip to seven losses.

Usually, the No. 6 seed in the playoffs is around the 10-6 or 9-7 mark, giving the Packers an advantage if they finish 9-6-1.

Again, lots must go right, and they’ll need some luck, but don’t count out Green Bay.

 

  1. History repeats itself, and because football

The NFL has become so parity-ridden, it’s super hard to predict anything these days.

Did anyone see the Cleveland Browns, yes that terrible, TERRIBLE franchise having the same record as the Packers through 11 games?

No.

So while conventional wisdom says the 2018 Green Bay Packers downright suck, and they do, the season really isn’t over.

Crazier things have happened.

There’s still some consistency left in pro football, and the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers top the list.

It seems Tom Brady and Big Ben Roethlisberger make the playoffs every year, and they really do.

But so does Rodgers and McCarthy.

Since 2008, his first year as a starter, the coach-quarterback duo has missed the playoffs only once (2008) in a season where Rodgers started the majority of the games.

Even in 2013, when Rodgers missed 8 games due to injury, he came back and won the division.

In 2015, when Jordy Nelson was out for the season, Rodgers rallied the troops in December and found a way to make the playoffs.

Last year doesn’t count because Rodgers got injured and missed most of the season, but we all saw the magic in 2016 as well.

At 4-6, Rodgers damn near played perfect football for two straight months and almost took Green Bay back to the Super Bowl, with some guy named Aaron Ripkowski getting carries. There may have been a Pipkins in the secondary, not exactly sure. Or a Samkon Gado?

Gesundheit!

 

In conclusion, Aaron Rodgers, the all-time NFL leader in passer rating and interception rate, along with cool Hail Mary completions, is still that baaaaad man, as the great Stephen A. Smith likes to say.

I like to rip on him when he doesn’t play well, but he is so ridiculously good that this year’s stats of 20 touchdowns and 1 interception are considered a “down year” for him.

Spoiled Green Bay fans have come to expect excellence, with Brett Favre and Rodgers displaying unrivaled brilliance under center for 26 years, and anything less is picked apart.

Well, whatever you do, don’t listen to the talking heads on ESPN and NFL Network crucifying your beloved team and quarterback, and simply have faith.

Rodgers has done this before, and he can do it again.

The Bears will still get their nice, little NFC North title, but they can afford to give Green Bay a win Dec. 16 in the Windy City. Football Gods? Anyone? A little help here?

 

BOLD PREDICTIONS: Aaron Rodgers will lead the Packers to five straight wins, passing for 1,700 yards, 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions, and all will be right with the world.

      After a first-round upset victory in the playoffs, the Packers will travel to New Orleans and get mercilessly truck stomped in an unwatchable mess.

      But that won’t matter, because Rodgers will once again prove he’s the man, regardless of his supporting cast.

      And one more thing – McCarthy will be fired after the season, even if he leads the Packers to the Super Bowl.

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