Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) cleared for pivotal Week 17 matchup
You always want to have your best players on the field, but in this game under these circumstances, you almost need your best players on the field, especially at your key positions.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sidelined since November 4 with a broken collarbone, and despite his ability to participate in non-contact drills at practice, the franchise has not allowed him to play in games over the past few weeks. If Rodgers' fracture were to become displaced, it would jeopardize his long-term health, and the Packers organization understands that one postseason run is not more important than the health of the face of their franchise.
Rodgers finally took first-team practice reps on Thursday, and after practice, head coach Mike McCarthy delivered the news that all Packers fans had wished for on their Christmas lists - Rodgers will start behind center on Sunday. "Any football player that plays Sunday will have risk," McCarthy said. "We've done our due diligence. We feel it's time for Aaron to play."
Having Rodgers leading the offense clearly gives the Packers a much better chance to win, as opposed to Matt Flynn, who is 2-3 as a starter this season (including an 0-1 record with the Oakland Raiders). Not only can Rodgers make better throws than Flynn, but his arm strength stretches the field far more, which opens up space for all of the offensive weapons. Opposing defenses can no longer stack the box to shut down impressive rookie running back Eddie Lacy.
The Bears are still a good football team, so Rodgers' return does not necessarily shatter the playoff aspirations in Chicago. The Bears have the third-ranked scoring offense and the Packers will be without their best defensive player, Clay Matthews (thumb). If Rodgers and the Packers light up the scoreboard, the Bears will have a shot to keep up.
Along with Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game, Packers-Bears is among the most intriguing sporting events of the month. Nothing generates excitement like a winner-take-all showdown, and now that Rodgers will be on the field, the matchup has become even more appealing.