Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood: Green Bay Packers Ready To Make Leap

Josh DelpContributor IJanuary 21, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 15:  (L-R) Aaron Rodgers #12 and Donald Driver #80 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate a play against the Atlanta Falcons during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers is gradually beginning to get mentioned in the conversation with the best quarterbacks in today’s game. Last week’s dominating performance against the 13-3 Falcons advanced that reasoning even further. Rodgers picked apart the stagnant Falcons D, en route to a 31-36, 366 yard, and four touchdown performance in the 48-21 demolition.

The Packers needed a Week 17 victory against the Bears just to get into the playoffs, but now that they are here they are having a field day. The undrafted Tramon Williams has morphed into a big play corner. He has three picks and two forced fumbles through two playoff games. No interception was bigger than the pick of Michael Vick in the end zone to ice the game. And then there was the interception return for a touchdown to sway momentum before the half against the Falcons. There is no doubt Jay Cutler will have to watch where he is on the field. He could turn into DeAngelo Hall, who picked Cutler off four times during the early part of the season.

What’s more impressive is the resilience through the uncertainty. The Packers got to where they are despite losing 15 players to injury throughout the season, six of which were starters. Rodgers even missed a few games with a lingering concussion. But through it all, they are in the final four. Mike McCarthy certainly deserves to be in the conversation for coach of the year considering everything the team has endured.

The Bears may have an antidote for Rodgers' potent passing attack in Julius Peppers. The Pro Bowl defensive end’s pass rush is one of the best in the league. Both defenses pose some problems for the opposing offense. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews' presence will be huge in both the pass and run game. It will be interesting to see who will get the upper hand on defense. Rodgers and the offense don't have a cakewalk either, but Green Bay has a definitive advantage.

Rodgers’ escape ability is what really puts him over the top. Besides Vick, he is the best at avoiding a sack. That will have to be put on display if Rodgers wants to remain upright.

The Packers have been fighting for their lives throughout the entire season. Their desperation and perseverance kept them in the playoff race during the season and has driven them to success in the playoffs. And who knew who James Starks was before this season? Titletown has an opportunity to live up to its name with the upcoming grudge match of the biggest rivalry in football.