Aaron Rodgers among the betting favorites to win the MVP

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers already has two Most Valuable Player awards, and he’s among the favorites to earn a third in 2017.

According to Bovada LV Sportsbook, the 33-year-old has the second-best odds behind New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to take home the award. Rodgers is 7/1, while Brady sits at 4/1. There are five more players behind them before someone that doesn’t play quarterback – Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott – makes an appearance at 20/1.

There are two defensive players named, including former Wisconsin star and current Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who is listed at 66/1.

Few players were as hot as Rodgers was to end 2016. He was the driving force behind a six-game winning streak to earn a playoff spot for a eighth straight year and led Green Bay to the NFC title game for a third time since 2010. For the season, Rodgers finished with an NFL-high 40 touchdowns and his passer rating of 104.2 was fourth-best in the league.

Rodgers earned his first MVP award in 2011 and picked up his second in 2014. Only Johnny Unitas, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning have won the MVP three or more times in league history.

Jake’s Take: Packers not going “all-in”

In this week’s edition of Jake’s Take, sports director Jake Zimmermann argues the Packers have yet to grant quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ request. After the NFC Championship loss in Atlanta, Rodgers stated the Packers need to go “all-in this offseason.”

Click the audio link below to hear why Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy believes the Packers ARE going all in, and why Jake feels they aren’t.

 

Thompson on RBs: “We need some more guys”

PHOENIX — Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson touched on a variety of topics during Monday’s NFL Owners Meetings, including a need for more bodies in the backfield.

“We need some more guys,” Thompson said in reference to adding running backs. “We’re a little short in a couple of areas. So from a personnel standpoint, we’ve got to get some more bodies, but we like the guys that we have. It’s just that we’d like to get some more.”

The departure of Eddie Lacy and the release of James Starks leaves just three running backs on roster, none of which have carried the workload a full season would entail. Ty Montgomery, who switched from wide receiver to running back last season, carried the ball 77 times for 457 yards and three touchdowns.

Reports from over the weekend indicated Thompson and the Packers were considering a meeting with former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson but that his asking price was too steep. Those reports also stated that Green Bay may address Peterson after the NFL Draft next month if their needs aren’t met. But when Thompson was asked about Peterson on Monday, he became tight-lipped.

“Let’s all together answer that question,” Thompson told a group of reporters. “We don’t talk about players that are not on our team. We never have, we never will. It doesn’t serve a purpose, I don’t think.”

Thompson and the Packers have roughly $24 million in cap space remaining for this offseason, and while he admitted it’s possible another player is added, that money might be saved for a future contract extension for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

McCarthy comments may indicate more active offseason

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be 34 years old by playoff time in the 2017-18 season, and coach Mike McCarthy’s comments during his end-of-season press conference on Thursday may indicate a more aggressive approach to a Super Bowl run.

“We all want to win the world championship, and I can just promise you and our fans that we’re doing everything we can to get that done. And I think — going back to Aaron [Rodgers’] statement, ‘all in’ — we can control what we can control. With everybody in football ops, we need to max out this opportunity and we’re already working on the next opportunity.”

The narrative for several years now has been on Rodgers’ perceived “window” for how long he can play at an elite level. Rodgers has already made several changes to his lifestyle to maximize his health, including the removal of dairy from his diet, a decision not taken lightly in Wisconsin, the nation’s dairy production leader.

But a healthy Rodgers hasn’t been enough to return to the Super Bowl after the team’s title run in the 2010 season. Much of the criticism has fallen on general manager Ted Thompson, whose “draft and develop” philosophy has largely meant straying away from signing players in free agency. Occasionally he’ll take a flier on a position of need, most recently signing tight end Jared Cook to a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

With the obvious success of Cook’s season, Rodgers and McCarthy have stated that re-signing the former Rams utility man is a high priority. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says Cook’s emergence, as well as continued areas of need, could force Thompson to go away from his rule of thumb and get more weapons in free agency.

“From what I’m told,” Rapoport said, “I would think the Packers are going to go and get some free agents this year along with trying to re-sign Jared Cook — which is a priority for them.”

In his Thursday press conference, McCarthy added that Thompson would indeed return for another season, seeming to end speculation that either director of football operations Eliot Wolf or Kansas City Chiefs GM John Dorsey could be his successor next year. What McCarthy didn’t say, however,  is whether Thompson’s role would remain the same.  Rapoport reported earlier this month that Thompson may step down to become a senior scouting advisor — a position change McCarthy didn’t address.

Packers’ Bakhtiari added to the Pro Bowl roster, Lang and Rodgers decide not to play

David Bakhtiari is going to the Pro Bowl after all.

The NFL announced Monday that Bakhtiari had been added to the roster as an injury replacement for Philadelphia’s Jason Peters.

The Green Bay Packers left tackle was among several players that were viewed as snubs when the Pro Bowl rosters were announced last month, but now he’ll get the experience in Orlando anyway.

He won’t, however, be joined by all of his teammates that were selected.

Guard T.J. Lang, a first-time Pro Bowler, will be replaced by former Packers guard Josh Sitton due to injury. Lang, who is a free agent this offseason, will undergo hip surgery on Friday.

“Definitely wanted to be there,” Lang said Monday. “But it’s not the end of the world.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also won’t play in the game. He’ll be replaced by Washington’s Kirk Cousins.

Another first-time Pro Bowler, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, is from Orlando and said he intends to be there.

Falcons beat Packers, advance to Super Bowl LI

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons are moving on to Super Bowl LI in Houston after defeating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the final game held at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons marched 75 yards down the field on their opening possession to score on a short shovel pass to Mohamed Sanu. The Packers were unable to answer on the ensuing possession, with Mason Crosby missing a 41-yard field goal. That ended his NFL-best 23-game streak of consecutive converted postseason field goals.

Atlanta faced little resistance on their second drive of the game, getting inside Green Bay’s 10-yard line before a holding penalty on third down forced them into a field goal attempt, where Ryan was good from 28 yards.

The second quarter started to look like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense were on the path to points, but fullback Aaron Ripkowski’s longest rush of the season ended in the red zone, fumbling the ball and getting recovered by the Falcons in their own end zone.

Things went from bad to worse when Atlanta’s Matt Ryan decided to do the damage with his legs. In the middle of the second quarter, he rushed for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Falcons on top 17-0. They didn’t have their first punt until 3:17 remaining in the first half.

Rodgers tried to rally the troops after that punt and get points before halftime, but a sack on second down set Green Bay up with a long third down deep in their own territory. Trying to make something happen, Rodgers fired deep down the middle of the field where the ball was intercepted.

Green Bay would pay for that mistake, as Ryan and the Atlanta offense marched down the field to score a five-yard touchdown to Julio Jones just before the intermission. The soon-to-be MVP had 271 yards and two touchdown passes in the first half.

The Packers got the ball to start the second half, hoping to mount the largest comeback in NFC Championship game history. Instead, a pair of drops by tight end Jared Cook led to an early punt and the Falcons capitalized once again. Ryan hit Julio Jones for his second touchdown of the game, this time from 73 yards out.

It took until the 9:19 mark in the third quarter for the Packers to get on the board, with Rodgers connecting with Davante Adams for a two-yard touchdown. But once again, Atlanta marched down the field for another score, this time a four-yard grab by running back Devonta Freeman.

Rodgers got another shot at points, however, hooking up with Jordy Nelson for a short touchdown late in the third quarter. Atlanta would recover the ensuing onside kick, eventually scoring another rushing touchdown to extend the lead.

With less than seven minutes left in the game, Rodgers hit Jared Cook for a score, but the two-point conversion failed and Green Bay trailed 21-44.

Majkowski: Rodgers once asked me if he should demand a trade

ATLANTA — As the Green Bay Packers get set to meet with the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC Championship game, former quarterback Don Majkowski told the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network that Aaron Rodgers once asked for his advice on a potential trade.

Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three long years before his rise to one of the greatest to ever put on the green and gold. During a pep rally in Atlanta Saturday night, Majkowski told the story of how frustrated Rodgers was with his lack of playing time while a backup to Favre. The story was first reported by the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network’s Jake Zimmermann (LINK).

While not surprising Rodgers voiced frustration about a lack of playing time, it’s the first time reports have linked Rodgers to a potential career outside of Green Bay. Just how close Rodgers was to talking with management about a trade remains unknown, but perhaps Majkowski’s advice kept Rodgers in Titletown.

Majkowski says he told Rodgers at the time to be patient, as he would be rewarded with the metaphorical keys to the Packers Ferrari franchise.

Green Bay lists five players as questionable for the NFC title game

The NFC title game is less than 48 hours away, and the Green Bay Packers still have major injury concerns and now an illness going through the team to worry about.

The team released its final injury report Friday afternoon, and saw five players — wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison, along with defensive backs Morgan Burnett and Quinten Rollins — listed as questionable.

“They’ll be given every chance to play in the game,” coach Mike McCarthy said of the wide receivers. “If we know (Saturday), we’ll know (Saturday). If we know Sunday, we know Sunday. I’m going to give these guys the open time frame to do everything they can to play.”

If that wasn’t enough, there is an apparent illness that has hit the team, including Nelson, who was told to stay away from the facility on Friday to avoid spreading it. Still, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and kicker Mason Crosby have been affected by it.

“Rest, fluids, all that stuff. We’ll be OK,” Rodgers told reporters Friday afternoon. “We’re going to be OK and deal with it.”

On Atlanta’s side of the things, wide receiver Julio Jones practiced on a limited basis Friday and is expected to play on Sunday. He had missed the previous two days with a toe injury.

Crosby sends Packers to NFC Championship game with late FG

ARLINGTON, Tex. —After a back and forth battle in the final moments of regulation, Mason Crosby won it for the Packers 34-31 to send Green Bay to Atlanta for the NFC championship game.

What initially seemed like the making of a Packers blowout, the Cowboys found Dez Bryant on a 40-yard touchdown to close the gap to 21-10. It was Bryant’s first career postseason touchdown, and now Green Bay will likely have a hard time answering. Left tackle David Bakhtiari exited the game in the second quarter with a right knee injury and was deemed questionable to return. Aaron Rodgers and the offense went three-and-out on the first possession after his injury.

The Cowboys struck first in the pivotal matchup, but Rodgers answered, leading the Packers down the field for a 34-yard touchdown to Richard Rodgers.

The Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection was set up by a drive that saw No. 12 take advantage of Dallas’ defensive substitutions, catching them with an extra player on the field, resulting in a first down. After hitting big plays from Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb, Rodgers again took advantage of a defensive miscue, launching the ball to his tight end in the end zone after seeing  Dallas jump offside.

The Packers extended their early lead to 14-3 after Ty Montgomery ran the ball in from the seven yard-line in the second quarter of Sunday’s NFC divisional round playoff game. He would find the end zone from a yard out on their ensuing possession.

Tight end Jared Cook hauled in a third quarter touchdown to give Green Bay a 28-13 lead over the Dallas Cowboys.

The downside to the score is that Dallas would get the ball back, allowing them to attack a weakened Green Bay secondary. Safety Morgan Burnett left the game in the first quarter with a quad injury and his return was ruled out at halftime.

Packers pound Giants 38-13 to advance to Dallas

GREEN BAY | The Green Bay Packers offense was terrible. Brutal. Aaron Rodgers and company advanced the ball just 7 yards in the entire first quarter. Then the offense woke up in a big way. Rodgers threw four touchdowns, three of them to receiver Randall Cobb who tied Sterling Sharpe for the most by a Packers receiver in a postseason game. Green Bay beat the New York Giants 38-13. The Packers will play the NFC’s top-seeded Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday January 15th at 3:25 p.m.

Giants kicker Robbie Gould gave the Giants a 6-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter when the Giants appeared to have all the momentum. That’s when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense came to life. Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for a 31-yard pass in the 2nd quarter. Two plays later it was Rodgers to Adams again for a five yard touchdown to put the Packers up 7-6. Green Bay would never look back.

Looking to go up one more score before the half, Rodgers let the ball fly from midfield on the final play of the 2nd quarter. Randall Cobb came down with the hail mary for a 42 yard score putting the Packers up 14-6 at the break.

The Packers kept it going in the 3rd quarter. Rodgers again connected with Randall Cobb for a 30 yard score to make it 21-13 Packers.

After a Mason Crosby field goal, Rodgers again found Cobb in the end zone. A 16-yard strike to make it 31-13. Aaron Ripkowski would add a one yard score to put a bow on a dominating 38-13 NFC Wild Card victory over the Giants.

Aaron Rodgers finished 25-40 for 362 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Randall Cobb finished 5 catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Davante Adams added 8 catches for 125 yards and one score.

Cobb’s impressive performance comes after missing two games due to injury.

The only bad news for the Packers? A rib injury that knocked number one receiver Jordy Nelson out of the game in the 2nd quarter. No word on Nelson’s status heading into the Divisional round game at Dallas.