The Packers bet on the team they built around Aaron Rodgers, and they're on the verge of being proven correct

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Last spring, the Green Bay Packers bet that they had enough — enough wide receivers, enough blockers, enough pass rushers. Enough of everything that they could maximize the talents of their veteran/aging quarterback and win the Super Bowl without an impact first-round pick.

We’re about to find out if they were correct.

The Packers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 32-18 on Saturday and will host the NFC championship game next Sunday against either New Orleans or Tampa Bay.

They did so with that first-round selection, quarterback Jordan Love, standing on the sideline. They also, obviously, didn’t have whomever they would have selected with pick No. 136 that they dealt to move up to get Love.

They didn’t need it. At least not against the Rams.

Aaron Rodgers was still able to throw for 296 yards and two touchdowns. He scored another TD on the ground with a nifty move. He spent the two minute warning of the fourth quarter getting serenaded with “MVP, MVP” chants from the crowd that was limited in size but still quite loud.

As a group, the offense ripped off 484 yards of total offense against the vaunted Rams defense. Meanwhile, the Packers D was able to hold the Rams to just 244.

Green Bay was clearly the better team, everything you’d expect out of the No. 1 seed.

It’s now when the sledding, presumably, gets tougher.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had more than enough to beat the Rams. Do they have enough to win the Super Bowl? (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had more than enough to beat the Rams. Do they have enough to win the Super Bowl? (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The move to draft a quarterback of the future while they still had their quarterback of the present was controversial, to say the least. Rodgers is 37 but considering he’s likely to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player, he doesn’t appear to be heading anywhere soon.

The Packers like planning for the long haul of course. Back in 2005, they drafted Rodgers in the first round and had him sit for three seasons as Brett Favre’s backup. That was part of the theory on taking Love out of Utah State. The other was that he was the highest-rated prospect available and the gap wasn’t close.

So general manager Brian Gutekunst pulled the trigger.

The reaction was swift and significant. The Packers had gone 13-3 in 2019 and reached the NFC championship game. They were a part or two, a play or two, away from potentially bringing another title back to Title Town.

So why go with a project quarterback rather than someone who could help now? Fans raged. The media questioned. Even Rodgers couldn’t understand it.

“Not going to say I was thrilled,” Rodgers said in May.

Well, fast forward to Saturday night in Lambeau Field.

“This feels really good right now,” Rodgers said.

It should have. The big questions that pundits wanted the Packers to address in the draft were the running game, the offensive line, another wide receiver and general defensive help. Well, it all looked good against L.A.

The offensive line was particularly dominant against the Rams’ normally ferocious defensive front. Rodgers wasn’t sacked and three running backs combined for 191 yards.

“It’s all about the offensive line,” Rodgers said. “ ... They were the stars. That was a fantastic performance by them. They dominated the line of scrimmage. … I was barely touched all night. They were incredible. [The Rams] have some very good players on that side of the ball. They became non-factors.”

“It was beautiful,” said receiver Davante Adams, who caught nine passes, including one for a touchdown. “We all know Aaron Donald is a game-changer. He’s one of the best football players, not just D-linemen, in the league. And tonight he was not a factor. … My hats off to the line tonight.”

Playoff wins always feel good. But all this did was get the Packers back to where they were a season ago. This season is about getting not just one step further, but two.

When you have a player of Rodgers’ caliber at this stage of his career, just winning a playoff game isn’t enough. It’s about Super Bowls. Put it this way, Love could turn out to be a great quarterback and still not be as good as Rodgers, who is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

That’s why there was so much criticism.

The Packers are long past caring about the draft. Love has been welcomed to the team. Besides, the group they have is the group that they have. They aren’t going to let draft day impact game day — a “we all we got, we all we need” mentality is typically quite motivational.

Besides, if the Rams defense can’t stop this offense, who can?

“Nobody,” Adams said. “ ... They have some of the best players at their positions but the way we come together is just different than everyone else. It’s about coming out and playing Packer football.

“We do that and nobody can stop us.”

If so, enough will prove to be enough and Gutekunst will get the last of the laughs.

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