Aaron Rodgers has been unstoppable since Thanksgiving, and he’s been unstoppable in the playoffs, throwing for 717 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in wins over the Giants and Cowboys. That one interception came against Dallas. It was Rodgers’ first interception since Nov. 13.
Green Bay has won eight straight.
“Aaron Rodgers, to me, is a very unconventional player,” NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “When I’ve watched him over the last couple of years – and I’m very much a purist when it comes to the quarterback position – there’s times I get very frustrated, and there’s times you just have to saw ‘Wow,’ because he always sort of plays on the edge. He’s not a true structured player, although he obviously can do that very well. He’s sort of, to me, like a jazz musician. He sort of just is always on the edge, and right now he’s playing with as good a balance between playing within the structure and playing just outside of structure as I think he’s maybe ever played.”
Rodgers will lead the Packers into Atlanta this Sunday for the NFC Championship. Green Bay is averaging 36 points per game in the playoffs, while Atlanta scored 36 points in its divisional win over Seattle last weekend.
“I feel pretty good about both (of these offenses),” Cosell said. “Unless something crazy happens, don’t you think this is a pretty high-scoring game? The Green Bay defense has been struggling, although I think they’ll play the run okay. When these two teams met in Week 8, they actually played the run pretty well, and I think they’ve got some stout bodies upfront with a good D-line rotation inside and I think they’ll play the run okay. But their pass defense has been struggling. They have not been able to rush the quarterback. Clay Matthews, for whatever reason, is not the same guy he was, so they just don’t have enough pass rush.”
In the AFC, meanwhile, the Steelers travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady’s success at home has been well-documented, but the Steelers have won nine straight games.
The difference between winning and losing this Sunday could hinge on the play of Ben Roethlisberger, who has more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two) this postseason and averaged just 210.5 passing yards per game in wins over Miami and Kansas City.
“I don’t think he’s played at his best over the last month or so, and quite frankly, this offense has evolved into being Le’Veon Bell’s offense,” Cosell said. “If you look at Le’Veon Bell, particularly on first down over the last six or seven games, his numbers are ridiculous. They are a first-down running team. The offense now essentially runs through Bell. I think Ben is going to have to play better than he’s played over the last month or so for them to beat New England.”
Packers/Falcons kicks off at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, with Steelers/Patriots to follow at 6:40 p.m. ET.
Atlanta beat Green Bay, 33-32, in Week 8, while New England beat Pittsburgh, 27-16, in Week 7. Ben Roethlisberger did not play in that game.