ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is officially out for Sunday’s divisional playoff game versus the Cowboys. Immediate reactions are, this is a huge blow for the Packers and it will make their job against the Cowboys that much harder. Nelson is Rodgers’ favorite receiver and the two have an undeniable chemistry. There is no way to sugarcoat this is a major loss for Packers.
It’s true the Packers were not great last year when he was hurt and Rodgers wasn’t great last year or at the beginning of year when Nelson was still recovering, but you have to take into consideration the roll Aaron Rodgers is on right now.
Tom Brady may be the most decorated and statistically the best quarterback left in the playoffs, but the most dangerous quarterback left in the playoffs is Aaron Rodgers, and as stated he is hot right now. During last week’s game against the Giants top tier defense, Rodgers shredded them for 362 yards, 4 td’s and no interceptions after a very slow start and he did this the majority of the game without Nelson.
Rodgers was at his elusive best, buying time sliding his feet, stepping up subtly, avoiding the Giants pass rush and delivering bullets to receivers that found their way open. Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jared Cook were more than enough to make up for Nelson. But, The Cowboys have the advantage of knowing that Nelson will be out and plus they are playing at home. It is easier to overcome setbacks at home than on the road, plus the Cowboys are fresh and healthy, while the Packers are banged up across the board.
The Packers offensive line is playing better, and Rodgers’ jersey is staying relatively clean. If he is able to avoid the Cowboys pass rush like he did with the Giants last week (particularly in the second half), Jordy Nelson’s absence can be mitigated. You give an all pro like Rodgers six or more seconds and he is impossible to beat. In last Sunday’s game Rodgers had as many as nine seconds to throw the ball on several plays. If he and the line can manufacture that amount of time, the Pack will be advancing to the NFC Championship.
All of that is easier said done, but not impossible.