NFL Playoff Predictions: 5 Green Bay Packers Not Named Rodgers Who Will Dominate
Even with all of the talented teams left in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers are still the favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl.
The star of the Packers is obviously their MVP-caliber quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers has been lighting up opposing defenses all year long and put together an elite statistical year, despite sitting out Week 17 against the Detroit Lions. He is a top candidate for the MVP award this year along with fellow NFC quarterback Drew Brees.
With Rodgers as the star of the Packers' regular season, there is no reason to believe he won't do the same in the playoffs.
However, as with any NFL team, the Packers are not a one-man show.
They have some very talented players on both sides of the ball that will need to play well in order for Green Bay to make the Super Bowl.
Here are five players, besides Aaron Rodgers, that will dominate this postseason.
Charles Woodson, CB
Charles Woodson is one of the Packers' best defense players and one of their true leaders.
He not only led the team in interceptions, but he provides a veteran presence on a very young defense. The Packers secondary finished the season ranked dead last in the NFL, but that doesn't mean that they lack talented players.
Woodson was injured during the Super Bowl last year against the Steelers, and he was unable to finish the game after hurting his collarbone.
He did, however, deliver an emotional speech to his teammates that helped inspire them to a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is no doubt that Woodson would have much rather have been playing, but he certainly takes his role as a leader on this team seriously.
Woodson will be looking to get his chance to play a full Super Bowl this year, and I expect him to be one of the Packers' biggest play-makers this postseason.
Jordy Nelson, WR
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If anyone was a benefactor of Aaron Rodgers taking his game to the next level this year, it was Jordy Nelson.
Nelson not only led the Packers in receptions this year, but he also was No. 1 in receiving yards and touchdowns. He didn't just dominate his teammates statistically, but he dominated the NFL—he finished top 10 in receiving yards and finished third in receiving touchdowns.
Nelson was one of the elite receivers in the league this year and I don't expect that to change in the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers is well aware of what worked during the regular season. As they say, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." So I don't expect to see the Packers offense turning away from targeting Nelson any time soon.
I expect him to be a big-play threat and the number one target for Green Bay during the playoffs.
Clay Matthews, OLB
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Clay Matthews had his worst statistical year of his career this season.
In his first two seasons, Matthews compiled 10 and 13.5 sacks, respectively. This season, he only finished with six.
His lack of sacks this year could be due to the fact that the passing defense struggled more so than ever, although he did top his career high in interceptions with four.
Regardless of his statistics, Matthews is one of the best players on the Packers' defense.
He is an elite outside linebacker with a motor that never stops. He is a monster coming off the edge when rushing the passer, and he has the speed to run down most running backs.
I fully expect him to take his game to the next level in the postseason.
Jermichael Finley, TE
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Jermichael Finley really emerged as a serious receiving threat for the Green Bay Packers in 2009.
He only played in 13 games, but racked up 55 catches for 676 yards and five touchdowns. Finley got off to a hot start in 2010 with two 100-yard games in the first three weeks, but then suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Washington Redskins.
Finley went in to 2010 with incredibly high expectations and then missed out on his chance to be a factor in their Super Bowl run.
He finally played his first full season this year and put up 767 yards and eight touchdowns. Finley shared targets with several talented options but still managed to be one of the better tight ends in the league.
There is no doubt that he has taken the backseat to Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings in the passing game. However, I fully expect Rodgers to take advantage of all of his weapons in the postseason, especially Finley.
James Starks, RB
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If you are attempting to find flaws on this Green Bay Packers' team, one of the first places you'll turn is the rushing attack.
The Packers have lacked a serious threat out of the backfield all year long. James Starks and Ryan Grant have put up decent numbers, but the running attack overall was ranked 27th in the league.
I understand it is hard to compile yardage when Aaron Rodgers is throwing so much, but you'd expect there to be more room to run with such a dangerous passing attack.
Ryan Grant has over the past few years has been Green Bay's feature back. However, when he went down with a season-ending injury last year, James Starks emerged as a solid alternative.
Starks had a great postseason and was a huge factor in the Packers' Super Bowl run. Many expected him to break out this season and become their clear cut starter, but he just didn't pan out.
But, he still led the team in rushing and will see his share of the carries this postseason. I believe the running game will be more important in the playoffs than it has all season.
I expect to see Starks step up again and give the Packers the rushing attack they've been missing all season long.