PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents a running meter that indicates the Packers’ top five MVP candidates up through Week 17.
1. QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers wasn’t nearly as sharp in Week 17 as he was in what might have been his best game ever against the Giants in Week 16. But he got the job done when he had to in the Packers’ playoff-clinching win over the Bears. He completed 19-of-28 passes to nine different receivers for 229 yards, threw the game’s only touchdown pass and registered an 89.7 passer rating. Rodgers added a team-best 21 yards rushing on seven carries. His strong second half of the season enabled him to finish in a tie atop the NFC with the Eagles’ Michael Vick with a 101.2 passer rating — a mark surpassed only by New England’s Tom Brady and San Diego’s Philip Rivers. For the regular season, A-Rod had a 28-11 TD-interception ratio and finished 78 yards short of a third consecutive 4,000-yard passing season.
2. WR Greg Jennings: Continuing to prove worthy of his first Pro Bowl invitation, Jennings had four catches for a team-leading 97 yards against the Bears, including big-play catches of 33 and 46 yards that set up Mason Crosby’s third-quarter field goal and Donald Lee’s fourth-quarter TD catch, respectively. Jennings did drop a sure TD pass and caught less than half the balls thrown his way. But he ended up posting big regular-season numbers, finishing with 1,265 yards receiving — 27 yards short of his career-high in 2008 and the fourth-most receiving yards in the league. His 12 TDs tied for the most in the NFC with Lions WR Calvin Johnson.
3. OLB Clay Matthews: The “Claymaker” finished the season with 13½ sacks, the second most in the NFC behind Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware, after registering a sack and two tackles against the Bears. Matthews came down to earth in the sack department the second half of the season, but his relentless hustle has remained a constant in a highly rated defensive unit in which his high-powered motor is one of the featured attractions.
4. CB Tramon Williams: Williams continued to provide Pro Bowl-caliber coverage against the Bears, but his biggest contribution on Sunday was his 41-yard punt return that set up the Packers’ first score of the game. He finished the regular season in a four-way tie for fifth place in the league in interceptions with six.
5. NT B.J. Raji: Raji had a quiet day on the stat sheet in Week 17 but continued to do a solid job clogging up the middle of the Packers’ defensive line and opening up numerous playmaking opportunities for the likes of LBs Erik Walden and A.J. Hawk and CB Charles Woodson, each of whom had huge games against the Bears.