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Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson and Shalise Manza Young discuss the NFC playoff picture heading into the final week of the regular season. The Packers are the top seed and seem to have everything going in their direction. How deflating would it be if Green Bay doesn’t capture another Lombardi trophy? Can the Buccaneers overcome their injuries as well as the loss of Antonio Brown? And if the Rams don’t get better play from Matthew Stafford can they make it out of the NFC? Hear the full conversation on the You Pod to Win the Game podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.
CHARLES ROBINSON: In the NFC, I want to ask you, the Packers, having that home field advantage at Lambeau is, I've said all along, hugely important. There's no question about this. But the interesting thing to me about the Packers and why I think their head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the NFC, they're, like, getting healthy. Like, Jaire Alexander, David Bakhtiari, these are, like, people who are going to factor now for this team. They've played really well through adversity with COVID, injuries, all these different things.
Their roster is pretty darn healthy right now. And I feel like they're grooving. Rodgers is happy. Aaron Rodgers is happy, playing at an MVP level. If the Packers don't-- if they don't seize it now this year-- like I expected NFC to be this huge mess, and anybody could do it. Now I will actually be disappointed, I think, if the Packers somehow faltered down the stretch because now I feel like they hold all the cards with that one seed, with the health, with the rhythm and momentum going into the playoffs.
SHALISE MANZA YOUNG: I did see that Leonard Fournette was at practice this morning for the Buccaneers. So that's certainly a good thing for them. But, you know, we all know what happened on Sunday and who they seemingly have lost. And the Rams, I wrote last week that if you're a Rams fan, you can't really be feeling that great about how Matthew Stafford has been playing. And I had a few people give me a lot of push back and well, look at his numbers, look at his numbers.
Yeah, look at his numbers. They're great. His numbers have always been great. So what he's thrown for 50,000 yards?
CHARLES ROBINSON: It's about the stage, right? It's the stage.
SHALISE MANZA YOUNG: Yeah.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah.
SHALISE MANZA YOUNG: Yeah. I mean, they played the Vikings. He had three interceptions in that Vikings-- they won that Vikings game two weeks ago, in spite of him not because of him. And this first half this past week was terrible, you know. He had five-- at one point, he had five interceptions in five-plus quarters, you know.
He, once again, threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the first half of that game. So, I mean, I know you and Frank have talked about it before, but people, you know, thought that all of Matthew Stafford's ills would be solved by just removing him from Detroit. And it does not really seem that that's the case.
And he might-- he doesn't have to necessarily put the team on his back. But he can't play like he has in the postseason. It's not going to get it done. You did not bring him there for that. You can't throw a pick six and put your team in that hole in the postseason. It's very rarely going to work out you.
CHARLES ROBINSON: So here's what I think about Stafford now that I've seen him outside of Detroit playing for the Rams, playing for a good coaching staff, good skill position players around him. I think he's better than Kirk Cousins. He's better than a Joe Flacco. He's better than those kinds of players.
But he has not escaped that bubble and elevated himself into the plateau of like Aaron Rodgers and, you know, these other individuals. I think he is uniquely talented, immensely talented. He is a player who can win a Super Bowl. But he does fall into that category of sort of, like, a Flacco, where it's like, you know-- and people bang on Flacco.
But the truth is Flacco had some really damn good years in the NFL. He did. And he got hot as hell. Helps-- he wins the Super Bowl MVP, helps to lead them to a Super Bowl at the right time. I think Matt Stafford is capable of that. But I don't think he's-- I don't think there's-- at least in my mind, setting statistics aside, I don't know. I don't look at him and go, OK, he's going to elevate everybody the way that Aaron Rodgers seems to elevate everybody in Green Bay, right? Or Tom Brady-- you know, granted, Tom Brady playing with a lot of good skill positions.
But do I see Matt Stafford in 45 seconds in a game where your teammate was just doing jumping jacks down in the end zone in the third quarter, during--
SHALISE MANZA YOUNG: Stripped to the waist.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah, you know, stripped-- stripped to the waist. Do I see Matt Stafford, you know, in 45 seconds pulling a victory out of defeat? No, I don't. So--
SHALISE MANZA YOUNG: Yeah. I-- the-- the thing that I've brought up to people is my first season covering the Patriots was 2006. And they went to the AFC Championship game and very nearly went to the Super Bowl that year. And look at who Tom Brady had as his pass catchers in that AFC Championship game in 2006.
Troy Brown was 35 years old and at that point was so raggedy as a receiver. He had started playing some defensive back in-- in situations. Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney were his three receivers in that game. And they came within a whisper of going to the Super Bowl.
So, no, when you look at who-- I mean, we've-- you just said, Cooper Kupp is an MVP candidate. He-- Matthew Stafford has these talented guys that he's playing with. And you know, the Rams have tried to build this super friends team. They don't have a first-round pick until, like, 2025.
So they've done all this stuff to try to build this super team for this year. And whatever Sean McVay has to do to get Matthew Stafford, like I said, just does he necessarily have to put this team on his back and carry them? No, but he can't be the reason why they lose. You can't-- you can't throw a pick six early in the AFC-- an NFC Championship and overcome that. That doesn't happen very often.