Friday, January 28, 2022

Aaron Rodgers to start Week 18 game at Lions despite Packers already clinching NFC’s top seed

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Aaron Rodgers will start in the Green Bay Packers‘ regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions. How the game transpires will determine how much Rodgers plays in a contest that is essentially meaningless for Green Bay, which has already locked up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. 

“I don’t think he needs to play,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Rodgers, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “I think he wants to play and keep the momentum going.”

While Rodgers could rest his injured toe by not playing in Sunday’s game, it’s clear that he would rather play while decreasing the risk of being rusty in the postseason. Rodgers’ decision to play could stem from past experiences. With the Packers having already clinched the top seed in 2011, Rodgers watched as backup Matt Flynn threw six touchdowns in Green Bay’s Week 17 win over the Lions. Early struggles by the Packers’ offense in the divisional round of the playoffs contributed to Green Bay becoming the first 15-1 team in NFL history not to win a playoff game, as the Packers fell to the eventual champion Giants

Rodgers is just 23 yards away from his 10th 4,000-yard passing season since becoming the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008. The three-time MVP has thrown 35 touchdowns against just four interceptions this season while completing 68.6% of his passes. Through 17 seasons, Rodgers has thrown 447 touchdowns against just 93 interceptions while posting a 139-65-1 regular-season record as a starter.

Earlier this season, Rodgers surpassed Brett Favre as the franchise’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes. This postseason, Rodgers will look to duplicate Favre by making his second start in the Super Bowl. The Packers are hoping to get back to the big game for the first time since the 2010 season after coming up short in the NFC Championship Game each of the past two seasons. 

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