James Starks running with the football against the Atlanta Falcons during the Packers 48-21 victory.
The talent of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the skill of the entire Packers receiving corps and the big play ability of the Green Bay passing attack were never in question throughout the 2010 regular season. One question that persisted was whether the Packers could be an elite caliber team without a running game.
The answer was no. Something changed, however, on wild card weekend in Philadelphia. The Packers discovered the ability to move the football on the ground.
James Starks was introduced to the pro football universe on Jan. 9, as he went for 123 yards on the ground, averaging 4.5 yards per carry against a stingy Eagles defense.
Starks put in another solid performance the following week as the Packers routed the NFC's No. 1 seeded Atlanta Falcons, 48-21. Starks's numbers dropped off significantly against the Falcons from his performance one week earlier in Philadelphia, but Saturday in Atlanta, it was all about Aaron Rodgers and the aerial attack.
Against the Falcons in the divisional round, Rodgers put in his best performance of the season, throwing for 366 yards, over twice as many as in the wild card round against the Eagles, and three touchdowns, completing 31 of 36 pass attempts.
The Packers offense is the most dangerous and explosive of the four teams that remain in the NFL playoffs. Rodgers and Starks led the league in postseason passing and rushing yards, respectively. Rodgers was a threat to opposing defenses week-in and week-out during the regular season without any real running game to back him up.
With the addition of Starks in the starting line-up, the Chicago Bears, and either team the Packers could potentially meet in the Super Bowl, will have to pick their poison and key on stopping either Rogers and the passing attack or Starks and the ground game.
The new found ability to move the football on the ground, coupled with the Packers dynamic passing attack, makes the Packers the clear favorite to take home the Lombardi trophy in Dallas Feb. 6.