Power Rankings: Packers on the rise

Aaron Nagler
Packers News
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Thanks to another dramatic overtime win, coupled with the news that Aaron Rodgers will be returning, the Green Bay Packers jumped one spot in the latest USA Today NFL Power Rankings. The Packers sit at No. 13 heading into their showdown with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

One of the better teams in the league, the Panthers jumped two spots themselves and now sit at No. 6 after beating the Minnesota Vikings last weekend.

Here’s what USA Today has to say about the Packers:

Good job, Brett Hundley, you got baton back to Aaron Rodgers. And Pack can spin your trade value given passer rating is 40 points higher on road.

And here’s what they have to say about the Panthers:

Jonathan Stewart averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored three TDs Sunday. For balance of season, he's averaged 3.2 yards with three TDs.

Elsewhere, Elliot Harrison has the Packers jumping three spots to No. 14.

From Harrison:

Praise abounds for Brett Hundley following his fine rendering late on the road in Cleveland. Right when you start feeling bad for the Browns, you realize the Packers' win means Rodgers could be dropped back into the playoff race like a smooth Jager shot in a breezy cold beer ... Like Luke Skywalker's cameo in "Force Awakens" — except not with a Michael McDonald beard. Maybe they were setting up the next movie. Rodgers' return is a gift for all football fans — especially with Deshaun Watson and now Carson Wentz gone till 2018. If the Packers sneak in and No. 12 starts rocking, they can beat anyone.

Over at Sports Illustrated’s MMQB, the Packers are their “Biggest Risers” this week, going from 19th to 15th.

From their website:

They were outplayed by bad teams the past two weeks, but managed to pull out overtime wins both times. And now Aaron Rodgers is on the verge of a return, setting off what will surely be one of the great quarterback controversies of this era. (I mean, can’t bench a QB on a two-game winning streak, right? Right?)

Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports has the Packers jumping big as well, bringing them up five spots from No. 20 to No. 15:

From Schwab:

While the Aaron Rodgers return seems inevitable (assuming he’s medically cleared, as Mike McCarthy made sure to point out), I’m not sure it’s the best move. It’s a great story, but are the Packers really a playoff contender? They need to win out and still get some help. And every time Rodgers gets hit from here on out, the Packers will be very nervous. You’d hate to see a quick return lead to another collarbone injury and have that affect Rodgers in 2018. (The Packers were moved up a few spots in anticipation of Rodgers’ return, not because they squeezed out a win against the Browns.)

Athlon Sports has the Packers jumping three spots to No. 15.

From their website:

Not a great look that you need overtime to beat the Browns but that was an impressive bit of resolve to rally late and survive on the road. Brett Hundley did his job and kept the team in the playoff race — now it’s time for Aaron Rodgers to close the deal.

Chris Simms puts the Packers at No. 19, up three spots from last week:

From Simms:

Give credit to the Packers. They continue to battle and play physical football. I just hope people are seeing what I've been trying to point out for a couple of years now. Without Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay is an average to below-average team.

Brett Hundley has talent; there's no doubt about that. However, while he has physical ability and is consistently improving his play, he isn't near the level of Rodgers, who is capable of carrying a team on his own.

It's never easy winning when you lose a star like Rodgers, but we have to recognize the Packers aren't a playoff threat. Even if they get into the postseason, I can't see them going on any sort of run.

ESPN continues the trend of pushing the Packers up the rankings by putting Green Bay at No. 14, up two spots from last week.

The Packers' running back situation was up in the air entering the season, but now they have several strong options. Rookie Aaron Jones has a pair of 100-yard rushing games, and rookie Jamaal Williams has five touchdowns and is averaging 125.3 scrimmage yards in his past three games.

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