Aaron Rodgers walked through the tunnel smiling after a 10-3 victory over the hated Chicago Bears.
"Tonight was a struggle, but it was good to keep the momentum going [into the playoffs]," he said with a wide grin on his face.
His liveliness was validated, though: no one wants to play the Green Bay Packers in January. Their passing game is hotter than anyone's in the NFL, and no one wants to line up against their prized defense.
Other members of the green and gold have chimed in and really believe this team has what it takes to make it to Dallas.
"I like our chances," Charles Woodson inquired, "We feel good about our team. We've had some down moments this year, we've had a lot of injuries, but if you look at this team, we just kept fighting and now we find ourselves."
Veteran Donald Driver believes the same: "Those guys told us during the game they didn't want us in. That tells you how much people are scared of us."
I haven't felt as good going into January with this team since, well um, three years ago, but that's not the point.
Critics will point out that the Packers are too hurt (no pun intended) in the injury department.
No Ryan Grant? How about John Kuhn, Brandon Jackson, and an assortment of young running backs instead?
No Nick Barnett? Enter Desmond Bishop, a 26-year old Cal-product (like Rodgers) who has 103 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception. Yeah, not bad for replacing a former All-Pro.
No Jermichael Finley? No problem, as Rodgers has thrown to a wider variety of receivers, having four wideouts receive a respectable amount of yards in 2010 (Greg Jennings, Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson).
Oh yeah, and about that passing game? Enter Rodgers, a quarterback who missed most of the awful 7-3 loss to the Lions and the entire contest the following Sunday in Foxboro, one that saw Matt Flynn nearly pull out a victory in the final seconds of a 31-27 affair with the Patriots.
Anyways, "A-Rod" still is seventh in passing yards with 3922, third in QB rating with a 101.2 number. Additionally, he has tossed the sixth most scores in football with 28 and threw just 11 picks. He is a large reason why the Packers only trail the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots in point differential at plus-148.
Scrambling is nothing Rodgers is shy of, either. He is trailing only Brandon Jackson in rushing yards, totalling 356 while scampering for 5.6 yards per carry. He is not afraid to take a hit, evident by his concussions in losses to the Redskins and the Lions.
This team is for real, and I haven't even begun to discuss the defense, outside of Bishop.
The Packers were second in points allowed this season, shutting out the Jets while holding the Lions, Vikings, Bears, and Bills to less than eight points. They were also eighth in total yards per game allowed.
Green Bay also boasts 2009's Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson, while having 2010 favorite Clay Matthews, who has 60 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and a defensive touchdown for the Pack. Tramon Williams and Pro Bowlers Woodson and Nick Collins anchor the secondary, while Matthews and the (finally) emerging A.J. Hawk plug up the middle.
While this is all fine and dandy, how do we know it translates well into the playoffs?
In the wild card weekend the Pack head to Philadelphia to take on an Eagles team that has suffered two disappointing losses in two weeks to the Vikings, whom the Packers have beaten 31-3 and 28-24 in '10; and the Cowboys, whom the Packers dismissed early by scoring often and winning 45-7 on Sunday Night Football.
The Packers will have no problem dispatching of the Eagles due to Michael Vick's limited mobility due to injury and the fact that A-Rod will stomp all over the birds in Philly.
Beyond that, who knows?
All I know is that In Rodgers We Trust.