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Aaron Rodgers produced some of the most exhilarating moments of the 2016 season, but for all of his brilliance he failed to guide the Green Bay Packers into the Super Bowl.
The 33-year-old sparked the Packers into life in week 11 of the campaign when it looked as though the club would miss the playoffs, winning the final six matches on the spin to head into the playoffs with momentum.
Rodgers wowed with his performances in the post-season, taking his team past the vaunted New York Giants defense and the 13-3 Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round on the road. However, not even he could muster enough points to match the offensive juggernaut of the Atlanta Falcons.
Without the quarterback’s incredible performances the Packers would have surely missed the playoffs, which makes him a strong contender to win the MVP award for the third time in his career.
He is backed at TopBet sportsbook at +600 to clinch the title, but will have to battle the odds to edge ahead of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
We’ll now break down where the quarterback has shined this season and what could potentially hold him back from winning the award.
Much was expected of the Packers at the start of the season, and although Mike McCarthy’s men won the first game of the term over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Rodgers struggled for rhythm. He threw two touchdown passes, but Green Bay needed a late defensive stand to hold off Blake Bortles and company late in the contest.
The problems were even worse against the Minnesota Vikings, with Rodgers throwing a costly interception into the hands of Trae Waynes to cost his side the match. His quarterback rating of 70.7 was the lowest of the season, and his performances would remain inconsistent despite throwing four touchdowns in a victory of the Detroit Lions.
In the first half he lit up the Lions secondary, but after the interval they put the clamps on his offense making the game a lot closer than it should have been for McCarthy’s side.
The issues were again present against the Giants when he committed two interceptions, while his completion percentage was below 60% for the third time in the campaign. Despite their offensive problems, the 33-year-old managed to put enough points on the board to secure a seven-point win.
Green Bay’s problems were magnified when they were blown off the line by the Dallas Cowboys in their week six clash. Rodgers was not quite good enough to keep them in the contest, despite playing a clean game. However, he responded in perfect fashion with a three-touchdown performance against the Chicago Bears, but his brilliance masked the Packers’ defensive issues.
A narrow defeat to the Falcons started a four-match losing run as McCarthy’s men folded under pressure from high-octane offenses.
Rodgers could match the production put out by Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck, Tennessee Titans’ Marcus Mariota and Washington Redskins’ Kirk Cousins as the Green Bay were simply overmatched, failing to score over 30 points in three of those contests.
Following their hammering at the hands of the Redskins, Rodgers was adamant that his side needed to run the table to keep their post-season hopes alive.
The 33-year-old returned to the peak of his powers starting with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, who limited the Falcons’ offense to just 15 points at a later stage in the season.
The quarterback battled the elements to put in a two-touchdown performance to see off the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field before the Packers welcomed the Seattle Seahawks. Rodgers put on a clinic to shred Pete Carroll’s defense, throwing three strikes in a commanding victory to get the offense back into full rhythm.
Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Jared Cook all hit top form, while Rodgers was able to pick them out with relative ease in victories over their NFC North rivals in the final three matches of the season.
None of their rivals had an answer for the quarterback’s brilliance as he threw eight touchdowns in those matches to end the campaign with the most in the NFL at 40, with only eight interceptions.
Rodgers fulfilled his promise of running the table in the regular term, and vowed to continue their surge into the post-season.
He put the vaunted Giants’ defense to the sword with a magnificent display in the wildcard round to propel his team into a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
In the first half of the contest at AT&T Stadium, the quarterback carved apart the Cowboys’ secondary to hand his side a commanding lead.
A second-half rally from Dak Prescott brought the home team into the match, but Rodgers was on song late in the game to produce a series of clutch throws, including a dart to Cook to set up Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal.
The NFC Championship game was a match too far for the Packers given their injuries on defense, as not even Rodgers at his peak could go score-for-score with Ryan, ending the club’s journey in the 2016 campaign.
Rodgers lamented the club’s struggles early in the season for their failure to reach the Super Bowl. At least some portion of the blame can be laid against him as his offense lacked rhythm, especially in their defeats to the Cowboys and Colts at Lambeau and on the road against the Vikings.
He was not the MVP-calibre player that won him the awards in the 2011 and 2014 seasons, and as a result may not have a stronger case than Ryan or even Brady for the title. He was playing for an inferior side than both of his counterparts, but his performances were still only good enough to see the Packers end 10-6 in their season.
When he did find his peak form his play was a joy to behold – none more so than his brilliant pass to Cook against the Cowboys. However, those moments were few and far between when it would have made a difference in the early stages of the term.
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