Game Over: Aaron Rodgers Is NFL's 2020 MVP

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystDecember 28, 2020

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer/Associated Press

Neither snow nor wind gusts nor slippery sod nor gloom of night stays Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.

Unlike the current postal service, Rodgers delivers on time.

Football is meant to be played in the elements, and the Packers quarterback is destined to win another MVP trophy, especially after Sunday night's standout effort in the Lambeau Field snow globe

With his four-touchdown performance, Rodgers isn't just the obvious leader in the clubhouse to claim the hardware; no one else should receive a vote. The unanimity of the Green Bay quarterback's claim became obvious in Week 16 after an uncertain campaign in which multiple options have seemed like potential favorites, only to fade over time. 

Typically, a Christmastime contest with accompanying weather patterns at least slows offenses. Not Rodgers and Co. The Packers accumulated 448 total yards during their impressive 40-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans. 

In a potential battle of favorites, Rodgers dwarfed Titans running back Derrick Henry as the quarterback didn't allow adverse conditions to factor into his performance. 

Players will say snow is a hindrance because of the footing and uncertainty about whether they can cut and run. Sure, shorter and choppier steps are necessary, but offenses can still operate near peak efficiency, especially with a triggerman like Rodgers calling the shots. 

"People definitely don't want to play in the cold. ... It's tough," wide receiver Davante Adams told reporters. "It makes you a little bit less physical. It takes your speed away. If you don't get to practice in this and get used to the temperature, the snow and all of that stuff, as you've seen, it can obviously take a toll."

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Green Bay easily moved the ball during Sunday's first half, and it wasn't forced to do so on the ground. Rodgers completed 15 of 18 passes for 140 yards and three scores during the first two frames to build a 19-7 lead. 

The ease with which Green Bay operated shows how well its quarterback is currently playing. 

Adams, who caught 11 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns, looked like he did everything on the game's opening score. Granted, Rodgers threw a simple smoke route, and his favorite target did the rest from the five-yard line.

But a closer look at that particular snap shows the offensive line fired off the ball expecting a run. The quarterback saw the favorable matchup on the outside and quickly delivered the ball into his playmaker's hands, giving him a chance to score. 

The next two touchdowns displayed a level of precision unmatched by other quarterbacks this season. 

Statistically, Rodgers now claims a staggering 44-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and his quarterback rating leads the league by a significant margin. As good as those numbers are, though, they don't tell the whole story. 

Rodgers' ball placement despite Sunday's circumstances was nothing short of magical. The 37-year-old lofted a 21-yard flick-of-the-wrist touchdown pass while throwing off his back foot and over an oncoming defender into the waiting arms of Equanimeous St. Brown for Green Bay's second score. He dropped another pass into the proverbial bucket for Adams' second touchdown reception of the night. 

The receivers didn't need to make any adjustments. Rodgers placed those passes exactly where they needed to be. He found a wide-open Adams in the end zone for his fourth touchdown connection later in the night. 

Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Keep in mind, these are the same Packers many thought desperately needed a secondary threat to take pressure off Adams. They didn't add one. Yes, the team ran the ball well Sunday. But no one has really emerged as a great bookend to the all-world wide receiver.

Yet Rodgers continues to plug along without experiencing many missteps. 

As good as Rodgers has been, the juxtaposition of his play versus others in the MVP conversation places his candidacy in a much better light. Sunday's competition proved to be a good starting point. 

Generally, running backs aren't favored over quarterbacks, especially when the position is devalued in today's game. Even so, Henry entered Sunday's action as the league's leading rusher with 1,679 yards and had basically been an unstoppable force in most games. A snow-laden affair looked like the perfect opportunity to take over a contest in front of a national audience. 

While Henry ran for 98 yards before the game ended, he was basically a non-factor through most of the meeting. Yes, his numbers are impressive. His wicked stiff-arms are reaching mythical status. But his performance simply hasn't quite been good enough to count the Titans among the league's very best, unlike the Packers. 

Furthermore, Henry wasn't the oversized running back beasting his way through an opposing defense during Sunday Night Football. Green Bay's rookie second-round pick, AJ Dillon, experienced a coming-out party with 21 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He was easily the best back on the field. 

Ironically, the Packers set up the pass to open up the run later in the contest. 

"Similar to last week when we were running the ball so well, we just had to be patient," Rodgers told reporters

Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

The Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes remains Rodgers' greatest competition, though the reigning Super Bowl MVP fell to the wayside during an uninspiring 17-14 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He threw for 278 yards, two scores and an interception. He also should have thrown a game-ending interception, but rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell couldn't hold onto the ball.

Granted, Mahomes responded with a game-winning touchdown pass on the following play. But his efficiency is still a tier below Rodgers' this season.

To be clear, no one is denying Mahomes' ability. He can do things basically no other quarterback can do with his unique arm angles and game-changing creativity outside of structure. He's also more of a risk-taker compared to Rodgers, which has led him into some rather poor throws even if defensive backs have dropped them. 

If anything, the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen may be the only quarterback left who can still challenge Rodgers considering his squad plays Monday against the New England Patriots and then again next week against the Miami Dolphins. His value is a little different in that he's part of an ascending team and adds more as a runner with eight rushing touchdowns. 

He's still nine total touchdowns behind Rodgers.

As a team, the Packers are starting to pull away from everyone, as well. According to Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz, Green Bay is now the league's best squad in both DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) and weighted DVOA. 

Rodgers is the best player on arguably the best team, and he's playing the best brand of football found around the entire league. 

Winter is here. Think of Rodgers as the Night King breaking down the wall as he moves toward his inevitable destiny of a third MVP. 

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.


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