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Aaron Rodgers back in MVP form for red-hot Green Bay Packers

By The Sports Xchange
Aaron Rodgers back in MVP form for red-hot Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after going three-and-out against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on November 20, 2016. | License Photo

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Five weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers looked like anything but a playoff team and quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't on anyone's list of MVP candidates.

What a difference five weeks has made.

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With a 38-25 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, the Packers have won five consecutive games.

That streak stands in stark contrast to the four-game losing streak that preceded it. A few days after a loss at Washington sent the Packers to 4-6, Rodgers said, "I feel like we can run the table" and win the final six games.

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Rodgers has backed up that talk with MVP-caliber play: 71.4 percent passing accuracy, 1,367 yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 119.8 passer rating. The Packers have averaged almost 31 points per game during that span, including more than 35 the past three games.

"I think he's an MVP," coach Mike McCarthy said. "There's no question about it. He's been playing at an MVP level for a number of years and that was an MVP performance. There's no question about it. I don't want to disrespect the other players who are having great years but he's the best player in the National Football League, in my opinion."

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On Saturday, he riddled the Vikings' powerhouse defense for 347 passing yards, four touchdowns and a 136.6 passer rating. With two Pro Bowlers in the secondary and an excellent pass rush, the Vikings hadn't given up a 300-yard passing game all season and entered the day ranked third in opponent passer rating -- a number Rodgers eclipsed by about 50 points.

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"From the first throw today, I was in a different head-space," Rodgers said. "I just felt that I was, for whatever reason, at a heightened awareness and focus and I was seeing things better, I was playing slower in my mind from the start. A good place to be at. You wish you could harness that (feeling) every single game. But definitely was in a good head-space starting the game.

Rodgers has been at his best when the Packers have needed him. He's had to carry an offense that transitioned from running back Eddie Lacy to converted receiver Ty Montgomery as the primary ball-carrier, and he's had to cover the warts of a defense that has been hit hard by injuries. And with the team's back against the wall five weeks ago, Rodgers has backed up his talk with one MVP-worthy performance after another.

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"Yes. That's stating the obvious," receiver Jordy Nelson said of Rodgers' MVP candidacy. "What he does, the numbers he puts up year (in) and year out. The issue with the great ones like that is they put up such great numbers, the expectations are so high. When you stub your toe a game here or there, everyone's ready to jump on you because they don't normally get to do it, but what he does for this team, for our offense, as a leader, as a quarterback, you see it. He's playing incredible football."

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The streaking Packers (9-6) will play at the Detroit Lions for the NFC North title on Sunday. Rodgers has put the Packers into this position. He'll have to do it again versus the Lions.

"It's going to be a loud environment obviously over there in Detroit, we've won a lot of big games," Rodgers said. "But Matt (Stafford has) had a fantastic year, their defense's definitely improved. We haven't played them since Week 3 (a 34-27 victory), so it'll be a lot of film to catch up on and see how they're playing, but a lot of very good players on their defense and offensively Matt's done a great job of spreading it around to their playmakers. So, it's going to be a fun one."

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