At the end of the 2016 NFC championship game in Atlanta, Aaron Rodgers sat solemnly with Jordy Nelson on the bench at the end of another Green Bay Packers playoff loss.
“We gotta get one of these at home, man,” Rodgers told Nelson, speaking about a conference title game.
The Packers have never played an NFC championship game at Lambeau Field since Rodgers took over as starting quarterback. With one home win, that will change. With two home wins, the Packers will be back in the Super Bowl.
The Packers wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 35-16 win over the Bears. Rodgers was very good, as he has been for most of the season. He likely clinched his third MVP on Sunday. The Bears needed a win or an Arizona Cardinals loss to make the playoffs, but the Packers made sure the Bears didn’t clinch it themselves.
And with the win, the Packers are in position to get Rodgers back to a Super Bowl for the first time in 10 years.
Aaron Rodgers has massive first half
The Bears had plenty to play for. Winning was a problem because Rodgers was on the other side.
Rodgers has been a nightmare for Chicago for more than a decade, and Sunday was more of the same. The Bears started with a 7-0 lead, but Rodgers was fantastic in the first half. He was 10-of-10 for 155 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He went into the locker room at halftime with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
The second half was a struggle. The Bears’ defense locked down and the Packers had trouble moving the ball. Chicago cut Green Bay’s lead to 21-16.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears moved into Packers territory. They made the questionable decision to go for it on fourth down instead of trying for a field goal to cut Green Bay’s lead to two points. The Packers got a stop, and then Rodgers hit some big passes for key first downs on the following drive. Aaron Jones’ rushing touchdown with 3:47 left all but clinched the all-important top seed.
Rodgers threw a touchdown to Davante Adams after that for his career best 48th touchdown of the season and a little icing on the MVP cake.
Packers have home-field advantage through NFC playoffs
A trip to Green Bay in January is not enjoyable. It’s fairly hard to get to, especially compared to other NFL cities. It will be cold. It might be snowing. And whoever goes to Green Bay will be facing a very good Packers team.
Rodgers loves the cold. His career numbers in cold weather are better than his overall numbers. It’s not a lock that the Packers make a Super Bowl just because they have home-field advantage through the playoffs, but it gives them an edge.
Rodgers has been hoping for that edge for a long time. A third MVP is great, and a second Super Bowl would be a huge boost to his legacy. With a couple more wins at Lambeau Field this month, he’ll have the chance.
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