Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?

Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Bob McGinn was in the news this week for his unfortunately-timed article “Packers could win without Aaron Rodgers,” a story that ran two days before the All-Pro quarterback suffered a broken collarbone. Oops.

McGinn tempted fate, writing “Fools will cry that I'm jinxing Rodgers and the Packers” before inadvertently forecasting with stunning accuracy Rodgers’ going down “early Monday night against the Chicago Bears.” Oops.

Somewhat lost in the aftermath of McGinn’s column and Rodgers’ subsequent injury was the point that the Packers will be just fine without the 2011 NFL Most Valuable Player. How is that working out so far anyway?

They certainly weren’t fine against the Bears, who went on to defeat the Pack at Lambeau Field with journeyman Seneca Wallace at the helm. Wallace completed 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards with an interception and no touchdowns in the loss, dropping Green Bay to 5-3 on the season.

Wallace it turns out is one of the reasons McGinn insisted the club would be okay.

They've never had to make do without possibly the finest player in the league. Losing Rodgers to major injury would be the nightmare of all nightmares. He makes everyone's job easier.

Yet, no organization would be better equipped to handle it than Green Bay.

Having spent much of the week researching the long career of No. 2 quarterback Seneca Wallace and the brief career of practice-squad quarterback Scott Tolzien, the guess here is that even if the Packers were to lose Rodgers early Monday night against the Chicago Bears they'd find ways to finish 11-5.

That’s it, that was the crux of the argument. McGinn must not have spent too much of the week researching the long career of Seneca Wallace, because even a cursory glance reveals his record as a starter is 1-8 since 2009, 6-15 all time.

Assuming Rodgers were out for the remainder of the regular season, Wallace would have to go 6-2 the rest of the way to get the Packers to 11 wins. That sounds optimistic for a guy that wasn’t even on an NFL roster last season.

Football Outsiders would seem to agree that’s a tall order. Here’s the entry on Wallace in the 2013 Almanac while he 10th-year veteran was still in camp with the New Orleans Saints, one of three organizations he’s spent time with this year.

Seneca Wallace, NO: Seneca’s appearance in the Big Easy says more about the team’s uneasiness about having Luke McCown as the backup QB than any confidence in Wallace. If either player sees significant time behind center this season, 2013 will be even worse than the 2012 debacle.

With Wallace under center, the Packers are just another one-dimensional offense, the likes of which the Eagles have handled this season. Only two teams have scored more than 21 points against Philadelphia’s defense, and none in the past five games.

Of course, I risk pulling a McGinn by pointing this stuff out. Obviously the answer to the question “Can the Packers beat the Eagles without Aaron Rodgers?” is sure they could.

The Birds will have to sell out to stop Eddie Lacy and Green Bay’s second-ranked ground attack, and even that provides no guarantees. If Wallace can hit on just a couple of big plays to deep threats Jordy Nelson or James Jones, that might be just enough offense to win—especially if bad Nick Foles shows up.

But bad timing aside, this idea that the Packers are anywhere near as formidable without Rodgers in the lineup is absurd. On the contrary, Green Bay is teetering on the brink of disaster right now. The Eagles must take advantage.

NFL Notes: Luck has successful right shoulder surgery, owner says

NFL Notes: Luck has successful right shoulder surgery, owner says

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has undergone surgery on the right shoulder that's bothered him the past two seasons.

Colts owner Jim Irsay announced Thursday on Twitter that Luck was recovering from successful outpatient surgery. Irsay says Luck will be ready for the 2017 season.

Luck was listed on the Colts injury report throughout this season and missed several practices, with coach Chuck Pagano saying the team had a plan for keeping Luck healthy while he dealt with a sore throwing shoulder.

Luck missed two games early in the 2015 season because of the shoulder injury. He threw for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns this past season after signing a six-year, $140 million contract in June.

Roethlisberger chasing Brady 
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger intended for the moment to be private. The camera following him to midfield and the microphone tucked inside Tom Brady's shoulder pads ended up making that impossible.

Their brief exchange before Brady and the New England Patriots visited the Pittsburgh Steelers in October provided a snapshot into a rivalry that never was. They bro-hugged. They lamented the left knee injury that forced Roethlisberger out the lineup on that warm late fall afternoon.

And then Roethlisberger made an uncharacteristic request : a signed Brady jersey to hang on the wall in Roethlisberger's home office next to Hall of Famers Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly.

"I consider him one, if not the best of all-time," Roethlisberger said.

A group Roethlisberger does not include himself in.

Not even with as many championships as Brady's longtime friend and occasional foil Peyton Manning (two). Not even with a spot in the top 10 in just about every major statistical category out there on Roethlisberger's still growing resume. Not even with a bust in Canton one day alongside Brady and the rest of the guys whose jerseys adorn the walls of his home almost assured regardless of what happens in Sunday's AFC title game.

The reason is simple: rings. Brady has four, including two he earned while carving a path through the playoffs that included victories in Pittsburgh in 2001 and 2004. Roethlisberger has two, neither of which required Roethlisberger or the Steelers to take out Brady along the way.

It's why Roethlisberger just shakes his head when asked if he's part of the "gold standard" label that he so eagerly attaches to Brady.

"Not as (his) level," Roethlisberger said. "Obviously, with all the Super Bowls he has."

This weekend provides Roethlisberger his best - and maybe his last - chance to do to Brady what Brady has done to so many others over the last 16 years. Even if the last thing Roethlisberger wants to do is get pulled into the "star quarterback vs. star quarterback" narrative that fueled so many showdowns between Brady and Manning through the years.

"It's obviously bigger than the two of us," Roethlisberger said. "I know he is used to it, with the Peyton Manning and Tom thing. This is two football teams that have won championships. Us going against each other is more than just one man. We aren't playing tennis. We are going out there to play a football game with 11 guys at a time."

Salute to service award finalists
HOUSTON -- Falcons coach Dan Quinn and Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva are the finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service Award.

The winner of the honor, presented by USAA, the official military appreciation sponsor of the league, will be announced during NFL Honors the night before the Super Bowl. Both Quinn's and Villanueva's teams, of course, are still in the running to play in that game on Feb. 5.

Quinn and Villanueva were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community.

Last spring, Quinn hosted a "Rookie Club Olympics" for which he invited 100 military members from Fort Benning, Georgia to the Falcons' training facility to participate. He created the event as a way for NFL players and the military community to unite and work together as a team.

"The military represents team on the highest level," says Quinn, who in his second year as Atlanta's coach and has it hosting the NFC championship game Sunday against Green Bay. "It's an honor to be up for this award that recognizes the standard of excellence set by our nation's military and encourages our community to give back and support service members and their families who serve our nation."

Quinn also stages a military day at training camp and hosts 20 military members at each Falcons home game throughout the season. He also provided an opportunity for families of fallen soldiers with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) to attend the Falcons' Salute to Service game on Nov. 27. All 63 families attending were given a VIP visit at practice and were provided a one-night hotel stay in Atlanta courtesy of Quinn. Each player wore the initials of a fallen hero on his helmet during the game and during practice; the families were given a replica helmet of that player with a personalized note in honor of their hero.

Last offseason, Quinn led four Falcons players on a weeklong USO tour through the Pacific.

Villanueva grew up as a military child, living in the United States and Europe, where he played high school football. He then attended West Point, where he was a tight end, and was commissioned in the Army in 2010.

Promoted to captain in 2014, Villanueva was deployed three times. He received the Bronze Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for heroism in combat.

For the first time, NBC Sports regional networks add live, local Major League Baseball streaming

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AP

For the first time, NBC Sports regional networks add live, local Major League Baseball streaming

STAMFORD, Conn. – January 19, 2017 – NBC Sports Regional Networks today announced an agreement with MLBAM to stream local market MLB games, as well as pre- and postgame shows, beginning with the 2017 regular season. This new streaming offering is available at no additional cost to authenticated pay TV subscribers of NBC Sports Group’s CSN regional sports networks (RSNs). This local initiative advances NBCUniversal’s implementation of “TV Everywhere,” which strives to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home, and on multiple platforms.

CSN’s local streaming allows authenticated viewers in their respective markets to live stream games and related programming that is carried by their pay TV provider of the Chicago Cubs (CSN Chicago), Chicago White Sox (CSN Chicago), Philadelphia Phillies (CSN Philadelphia), Oakland Athletics (CSN California) and San Francisco Giants (CSN Bay Area). Game broadcast schedules will be announced at a later date.

“This is a home run for our local sports fans,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. “We are constantly looking for ways to better serve our fans and provide comprehensive coverage of their favorite teams. With the addition of MLB in-market streaming rights, they don’t have to miss a pitch.”

The addition of MLB authenticated in-market streaming completes the local streaming portfolio for the NBC Sports Regional Networks, which also includes local NBA and NHL live streaming. The RSNs first introduced NBA streaming in 2014 and last fall announced the addition of NHL in-market streaming, beginning with the 2016-17 season. 

The NBC Sports Regional Networks now have partnerships for in-market streaming of the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s (CSN Bay Area/CSN California); Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox (CSN Chicago); Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals (CSN Mid-Atlantic); Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Phillies (CSN Philadelphia); and Boston Celtics (CSN New England).

Authenticated CSN subscribers can access live MLB, NBA and NHL games, as well as other sports programming, anywhere in the United States.  During the 2017 MLB season, all in-market MLB games will be streamed on the respective local CSN regional network site on PCs as well as on the NBC Sports app—NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets and connected TVs. The NBC Sports app is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.