Packers 'definitely not done' with so much at stake

Making the road to the Super Bowl come through Green Bay is the next objective

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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers runs off the field after Green Bay defeated the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, 31-24, on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

There's always a message, and this one is appropriate.

As the Packers donned NFC North championship hats and T-shirts following Sunday's 31-24 win over the Lions at Ford Field, three big words in all caps were legible on the shirt's screen print – "WON NOT DONE."

The Packers have their second straight division crown but they're after something they haven't had in Aaron Rodgers' illustrious tenure as the starting quarterback.

A chance to play for a Super Bowl berth at Lambeau Field.

It's theirs to be had now that their 10-3 record matches the Saints' mark after New Orleans lost on the road at Philadelphia. The two teams are tied for the top spot in the NFC, but the Packers own the tiebreaker thanks to their victory at the Superdome back in September.

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That means if the Packers can win their final three regular-season games, they'll get the No. 1 seed, plus the lone playoff bye and home-field advantage that go with it.

"I think it's important for sure to get that extra week of rest," Rodgers said. "The big thing, though, and you guys know this: We've played in I believe four NFC Championship games. All four on the road.

"So being able to have the whole thing come through Green Bay is something that we've talked about for a long time and we've wanted and we've never had."

The closest the Packers came was in 2011, but they lost at home in the divisional round of the playoffs the year after going to the Super Bowl on the strength of winning the NFC title game in Chicago.

Since then, they've played NFC Championship games at Seattle, Atlanta and San Francisco last year, losing them all.

Certainly nobody is taking for granted what it will take to be hosting that game in late January. Next week's opponent, the Carolina Panthers, might be getting star Christian McCaffrey back from injury. The Tennessee Titans are a Super Bowl contender from the AFC. The Bears suddenly have a hot offense and could be playing for a wild-card spot in Week 17. Then there's the first playoff game after the bye, should the Packers get it.

"Our guys understand what's at stake," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "There's a lot to play for. You have to earn it one game at a time."

The point is the Packers control the playoff race at this point and don't need any more help as long as they don't lose.

"I mean, we've got it now," receiver Davante Adams said. "So it's basically about finishing the season strong, not taking any of these last games light and taking care of business.

"We're definitely not done. We've got a lot more work to put in and get where we ultimately want to be. We're putting ourselves in a pretty good position right now. We've just got to keep our head down and keep working."

Meanwhile, Rodgers took another step toward possibly winning his third NFL MVP. With Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes throwing three interceptions Sunday in a tight Chiefs win, Rodgers now leads the league in both most TD passes (39) and fewest INTs (4).

He's not going to catch Mahomes in passing yards, at more than 500 behind (4,208 to 3,685), but Rodgers extended his lead in passer rating (119.7 to 112.3) and moved closer to his own NFL single-season record of 122.5 set back in '11.

The Green Bay Packers faced the Detroit Lions in a Week 14 matchup at Ford Field on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.

LaFleur said after the game Rodgers "should be the front-runner for the MVP," and he very well could be. But the two-time winner didn't even bring it up after the game, having said many times another Super Bowl is far more important to him.

He believes this team is more than capable of getting there, because it includes everything from star power to valuable role players to the intangibles.

"It's camaraderie and chemistry and ability to deal with adversity and not starting to point fingers, that resolve, that grit," he said. "I feel like this team has a lot of those characteristics.

"It has been a strange, strange year, with no fans at most games and not the same type of get-togethers off the field, but I feel like we've made the most of our opportunities. Again, I really like the vibe of this team, the energy of the guys and the way the guys enjoy each other and fight through adversity."

The 37-year-old Rodgers is enjoying every step, too, and Step 1 is in the books with the division title secure. It's what they've WON, but they're NOT DONE.

"We had a moment in the locker room, I just kind of leaned back in my locker and just smiled and took it all in with the music playing and the guys celebrating," he said. "It was just a special moment.

"And you realize, these are the times you're going to miss when it's all said and done. I'm just so happy for the opportunity to be a part of this squad and optimistic about what the future can hold with these guys."

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