For months now, Detroit Lions fans have been dreading the return of Aaron Rodgers in Week 17. Ever since suffering a broken collarbone, Rodgers was capable of returning to play as early as Week 15, and that’s exactly what ended up happening. Most Lions fans could feel what was going to happen: Rodgers was going to single-handedly end the Lions’ playoff hopes in the final week of the season... again.
But Rodgers’ triumphant return was anything but triumphant. Thanks, in part, to Rodgers’ three interceptions (the most he’s thrown three in a game since 2009), Green Bay was defeated by the Carolina Panthers. And thanks to a Falcons win on Monday night, the Packers have now been officially eliminated from playoff contention.
With nothing left to play for, will the Packers bother to put Aaron Rodgers out there on the field, especially considering his broken collarbone is far from 100 percent healed?
Head coach Mike McCarthy was noncommittal on Monday. "Aaron Rodgers is sore, rightfully so," McCarthy told reporters. "He was hit too many times, took two big hits. So we're working through that. So we'll see what tomorrow brings."
But Green Bay’s actions speak much louder than McCarthy’s words. According to a report from ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers will be re-signing quarterback Joe Callahan.
Callahan was waived in order to make room for Rodgers’ return last week. It seems likely that if he’s returning to the lineup, Rodgers could be on his way back to injured reserve. Of course, the Packers may be brining Callahan back simply because Rodgers is sore and they’re being precautious for Sunday. However, there is just very little sense in starting a “sore” quarterback with nothing to play for who is still healing from a broken throwing shoulder.
If Rodgers’ is on his way out, it means the Lions will luck out and not have to face the All Pro quarterback in 2017. The Lions already defeated the Brett Hundley-led Packers in Lambeau, and with a Week 17 matchup looming in Detroit, the Lions would have a much easier path to victory.
So it looks like the Lions’ chances to win out are about to seriously increase. Of course, the Lions still need considerable help to get into the postseason, but for now, it looks like they’ll have a much better shot at taking care of their own business.