On the back of a gutty performance by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers now find themselves in the playoffs as the NFC North champions, beating the Bears in Chicago with a touchdown in the closing minute of the game.
For their efforts, the Packers will host the San Francisco 49ers in the opening round of the postseason.
The big story heading into the de-facto NFC North championship game was Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder. Early in the game, Rodgers seemed a little bit out of sync, tossing two early interceptions that put the Green Bay Packers in a hole early, but in the second half, Rodgers was able to settle down, ultimately leading his team into the postseason.
The Bears end their season in a much more difficult situation. Jay Cutler played well enough to win, but Chicago was let down by their defensive unit. Now, the Bears have to decide what direction they’ll be taking on defense, and they’ll have to determine whether they want to move forward with Jay Cutler at quarterback.
Although the Packers dominated the battle for time of possession by holding the ball for over 35 minutes of the game, the Bears were able to score when given short fields by turnovers or Devin Hester’s returns. In essence, the Bears played a more efficient game, doing far more with their limited time of possession and yardage, but as has been the case much of the season, Chicago couldn’t get off the field on defense.
The Packers were able to move the ball at will against the Bears, especially on the ground. Green Bay was able to run up 160 yards on the ground, allowing their offense to remain balanced enough to open up play action passes down the field, something we don’t always see from the Packers.
Although they’re in the show, the Packers will have to play far better defensively to keep touch with other teams in the NFC playoffs. The Packers’ next matchup, against the 49ers, will be especially difficult if Green Bay can’t contain San Francisco’s potent rushing attack.
Even with all their problems, Aaron Rodgers proved once again that when he’s in the game, the Packers always have a chance. With Rodgers back in the starting lineup, the Packers are back to being a legitimate contender.