With so many talented players in each league, it is a foregone conclusion that stars will be left off the Pro Bowl roster every year. After all, only three or four players from 16 teams can be selected for each position, meaning more than a handful of players inevitably will be “snubbed.”
Most times arguments can be made for and against players making or making the team, and the discussion in Green Bay is no different.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted a fantastic season in 2010 and have the Packers one home win against the Chicago Bears away from sealing up the No. 6 seed in the NFC. However, his season was only good enough in the eyes of the voters to warrant a first alternate selection for the Pro Bowl, meaning his name will only be called if someone at his position drops out or is playing in the Super Bowl.
In Rodgers’ case, his slow start and absence in two games down the stretch probably hurt him the most. Touted by many as ready to take the jump from great to elite, Rodgers’ numbers through eight weeks looked more like the former. With the team sitting at 5-3, Rodgers had passed for 12 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and an average of 251 yards per game.
After the Green Bay Packers disposed of the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving day in a 34-12 rout, they were able to sit back and enjoy Sunday’s slate of NFL games. At 7-4, the Packers find themselves in good position to nab one of the two NFC Wildcard spots at the end of the season. They sport a decent conference record at 6-3, better than any Wildcard contenders other than the Eagles (6-2). Still, the Packers were looking for a little extra help this weekend from some of the bottom teams in the NFC. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. Here’s a look at the Packers’ situation and reviews of how each Wildcard contender did this past weekend.
Green Bay Packers, currently 7-4
The Packers play the Ravens and Steelers over the course of three weekends and, while it looked more difficult at the beginning of the season, both games will be difficult. Both teams sit at 6-5 and are very beatable, especially the Ravens at home and the Packers will most likely need to take one of them to keep their playoff hopes alive.
If they lose one of those games, the good news is it will not count against their conference record, the first tiebreaker in determining the Wildcard spots. They also play two games in which they should be favored against the Seahawks and Bears. To close the season out, they go to Arizona to play the Cardinals. The caveat there is that the Cardinals, who hold a two-game lead on the division, could very well have wrapped up the NFC West by then and will be resting their starters, making for a much easier game.
1. Dallas Cowboys, 7-3 entering Week 12
The Cowboys were sure thankful for whoever scheduled them to play the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day. America’s Team pummeled the Raiders 24-7 and now find themselves in the driver’s seat to win the NFC East at 8-3. Someone has to win the NFC East by rule, but Packers’ fans were hoping that it would be the Cowboys vying for a Wildcard spot due to the head-to-head advantage they hold against them from the Week 10 victory in Lambeau Field.
The Eagles sit at 7-4 and are still very much alive in the NFC East hunt, but instead of worrying about tie-breakers and conference records and such, it would be best if the Cowboys won the rest of their games, including match ups against the New York Giants and Eagles. Their schedule the rest of the way is tougher than their NFC East counterparts, but they should win the East if they win their division games.
2. Philadelphia Eagles, 6-4 entering Week 12
If it weren’t for some 4th quarter heroics from Donovan McNabb, the Eagles would have been looking at a 6-5 record and a 2-game difference in the NFC East. They trailed the Redskins by eight points in the fourth quarter but ended up winning the game in the last two minutes, 27-24. It would have been a huge gain for the Packers if the Eagles had tripped up, but alas they pulled it out.
The Eagles have a better conference record than the Packers because they have played one less game and do not play the Packers head-to-head. They will face Atlanta next weekend who is also fighting for their playoff life as well as the Giants and Cowboys, so chances are the Eagles will either knock out one of the NFC East opponents or be knocked out by one of them.
3. New York Giants, 6-4 entering Week 12
After beginning the year 5-0, the wheels are starting to come off for Eli Manning and the Giants. They missed a golden opportunity to stay tied with Philadelphia and within a game of the Cowboys, but dropped their Thanksgiving Day match up against the Broncos, 26-6. They face the Cowboys next week who they already beat in Dallas, meaning they could have taken possession of first place had they won last week.
However, a win in Dallas would not only keep their playoff hopes alive, but their division hopes alive as well. The next week they play the Eagles, meaning that the next 14 days will all but determine the playoff hopes for the Giants. If they win both, they will be in very good shape to win the division. Lose both and they will probably be on their couches for the second season.
4. Atlanta Falcons, 6-4 entering Week 12
The Falcons were about 30 seconds and one down away from seeing their 2009 playoff chances fade away, but a Roddy White touchdown catch to beat the Bucs 20-17 kept them alive in the hunt. They now sit at 6-5 and are still on the outside looking in, but face the Eagles next week in a matchup that, if won, would let them leapfrog the Eagles in the standings.
After the Eagles, the Falcons play the Saints at home and then do not face a team with a record over .500 the rest of the year. Sounds good for them if they can beat the Eagles, right? Not so fast. Quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner both left Sunday’s game with injuries and the offense will go nowhere fast, regardless of who they play, if the two of them can not go. They could sneak in the playoffs with a win over the Eagles, but keep a very close eye on those injuries.