Packers thwart Vikings to set up showdown vs. Lions

Despite Rodgers’ comments, don’t get your hopes up Packers fans. The normally tight-fisted Thompson isn’t likely to change his outlook when it comes to free agency, despite the frustrations emanating out of — both inside and outside the locker room.

Rodgers’ comment that the team needs to “reload” is a nod to a roster that is good, but too often lived on the quarterback playing out of his mind to win. When he came back to early on Sunday, Green Bay got blown out.

The Packers noted Zeke’s phenomenal vision, which they believe is his best attribute. The rookie’s improved patience and cheap jerseys and ability to see holes form are what separates him from other backs behind the Cowboys road-grading offensive line. Yes, Dallas’ O-line creates holes, but lesser backs don’t turn 4-yard gains into 15-yard gains as easily as Zeke.

Elliott led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards, the first rookie to do so since Edgerrin James in 1999. He compiled seven 100-yard rushing yard games this season (tied for most in the NFL) and was second in the NFL in scrimmage yards with 1,994.

This was a perfect day to grind away with the run, but the Packers don’t have the horses to make it happen. Christine Michael notched an unimpressive 19 yards off a team-leading nine carries, but helped the team with a five-yard burst on fourth-and-2 during Green Bay’s first touchdown march. This largely unimpressive committee backfield was helped most by receiver/runner Ty Montgomery, who piled up 40 yards off six attempts.

This will drive NFL Media’s nuts: Texans coach Bill O’Brien burned through two second-half timeouts with six-plus minutes to play in the third quarter. While it didn’t overtly haunt the Texans, too many coaches have mismanaged timeouts this season.

Although the Packers’ front seven got to Sam Bradford for four sacks and eight quarterback hits, the overly generous secondary remains an issue. Top cornerback Damarious Randall didn’t appear in nickel packages to start the game after getting benched last week. LaDarius Gunter was immediately ruled out after suffering an elbow injury. Meanwhile, Bradford led an offensive attack that piled up a season-high 446 yards while pulled off a convincing Nelson impersonation. Bypassing Stefon Diggs for the season lead in receiving yards (960), Thielen enjoyed the game of his life with 12 receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns — the second of which came with under a minute remaining, long after Rodgers had been put on ice in a one-sided affair.

Green Bay travels to Detroit for a regular-season finale that will determine the NFC North champion. Although there are still scenarios under which the Packers can secure the NFC’s No. 6 seed with a Week 17 loss, they would need cooperation from the Redskins and Buccaneers.

The counter-argument to all of this glowing Green Bay ink? The Cowboys, of course. A team that has found a way to overcome every challenge, injury and lingering doubt with the finest season from a Jerry Jones team since Troy Aikman and the ‘Boys danced their way to three titles back in the 1990s.

While the wild-card round gave fans a rash of hideous games, Sunday’s Cowboys-Packers tilt is emerging as the most fascinating showdown of the year. It’s up to both clubs to live up to the hype.

Rodgers toyed with the defense in the Seahawks’ first game without All Pro safety Earl Thomas, but there were extenuating circumstances. Davante Adams beat Jeremy Lane’s single coverage for a 66-yard touchdown down the sideline. The next two scores came on short drives following a Wilson interception and a short Jon Ryan punt. Seattle’s offense put the defense in poor situations throughout the game.

Nobody is bemoaning Green Bay’s slow receiving corps these days, as Adams and Jordy Nelson have emerged as one of the NFL’s most effective tandems during Rodgers’ recent renaissance. Nelson’s 12 touchdowns are the most of any NFL wide receiver. Adams is on pace for 78 receptions, 1,103 yards and 11 scores in a long-awaited breakout season.