The Green Bay Packers ascended to the No. 1 seed in the NFC thanks to another herculean performance by Aaron Rodgers, who accounted for four touchdowns in a win over the Lions, and the Saints' surprising loss to the Eagles in Week 14. That the Packers are 10-3 and in the position they currently find themselves is, as much as anything, a testament to Rodgers' greatness. At 37 years-old, he's having arguably the best season of his career and should, at this point, be the frontrunner to win his third NFL MVP award.
Now just imagine what he'd be doing if the Packers gave him some damn help this year.
Currently the Packers feature the best wide receiver in the NFL, Davante Adams, a top 10 running back in Aaron Jones and a scrapheap of wide receivers and tight ends who no other team wanted and wouldn't sniff the production they're enjoying without A-Rodg as their quarterback.
Despite knowing that reality coming into the season and it being readily apparent throughout this year, the Packers have done nothing to bolster Rodgers' supporting cast. They opted against drafting one of the half-dozen receivers who are currently torching the league and likewise passed on trading for an established star at the deadline. The latter decision worked for them out because the person they were most heavily targeting, Will Fuller, is suspended for the rest of this season. But there were other options out there the Packers decided against, as per usual.
The draft decision was of course the most perplexing because the Packers moved up to select project quarterback Jordan Love over the likes of Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins, or Michael Pittman Jr. The move pissed Rodgers off and he's smeared egg all over the face of Green Bay's front office with his performance this year. But still, their offense could be so much better.
Packers speedy wide receiver Maquez Valdes-Scantling is their second-leading receiver with 603 yards and five touchdowns. He has enjoyed three breakout games for the Packers this season, but he also fumbled away a game against the Colts and has caught only 50.5 percent of the passes thrown his way in his career. Basically, he's boom or bust, and in the playoffs consistency matters.
Tight end Robert Tonyan is enjoying the best season of his young career with 533 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, but the former undrafted free agent and practice squad member seems to be more of a product of Rodgers' greatness than the other way around.
Beyond those two there's fellow undrafted free agent/practice squad player Allen Lazard, who's been hurt all year, and then a bunch of guys who if I told you their names you would have no idea they even played in the NFL -- RE: Equanimeous St. Brown.
This is not to knock those players. Tonyan and Lazard are vastly overperforming what others expected of them and so is Valdes-Scantling, who was a fifth-round pick. This is all to say Rodgers is making four-star meals with two-star ingredients. Imagine if he had Patrick Mahomes' bevy of talent . Or Russell Wilson's. Or Tom Brady's.
Which brings me to my final point. Brady left the Patriots in part because Bill Belichick didn't surround him with enough talent for Brady to succeed at the highest level. While the Packers have far more offensive firepower this year than New England did the last two years, you have to imagine Rodgers wonders what he could do with a star-studded cast around him. After the Packers slighted him by drafting a quarterback, you wonder if he's not already looking at the other side of the fence with envy.
Rodgers is six touchdown passes away from matching his career-high (45) with three games to play and is on pace to set a career high in completion percentage (69.6) and QBR (84.8). He's led the Packers to a 10-3 record and the top spot in the NFC. That he's doing it with this cast of secondary players speaks to his greatness, but it's also a reminder of the fact that Green Bay has not surrounded him with the kind of talent his MVP counterparts possess.