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Green Bay Packers signal-caller, Aaron Rodgers, has claimed the moniker of most formidable foe for the Minnesota Vikings since 2008. Aside from Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning, Rodgers has inflicted more damage than anybody ontothe Vikings amid the last 13 seasons. Wilson, Brady, and Manning are only considered deadlier to the Vikings because none of them ever lost to Minnesota, if that can be believed. Rodgers has lost to Minnesota – nine times. Most of the losses against Minnesota have occurred with head coach Mike Zimmer in charge, although Rodgers did drop three out of his first four career starts versus the Vikings. 

This weekend, Rodgers and the Packers enter familiar and unfriendly [as of late] territory. Green Bay will host former NFC Central foe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in the 2020 NFC Championship. Green Bay is favored by three points according to most sportsbooks, an oddity for a squad matched up with Tom Brady. 

Rodgers’ reputation is mostly pristine as the University of California alumnus won a Super Bowl in his third season as a starter – 10 years ago. Indeed, Green Bay has encountered a New England Patriots-like gap with Lombardi trophies. Some NFL minds forget that New England did not win a Super Bowl between the years of 2005 and 2013 – quite the canyon for a dynasty. 

So, when one ponders “Rodgers in the big game” as will take place on Sunday, the tendency is to surmise smooth sailing. That may end up true, but Rodgers’ NFC Championship performance during his 16-year career is curiously below-average. Have a look:

4 Games Started

1,035 Passing Yards

6 Passing TDs

7 INTs

63.5% Completion Percentage

78.0 Passer Rating

3 Fumbles

Packers Win-Loss: 1-3 (.250)

One Win – a Decade Ago

Fortunately for Rodgers’ sake, he won his very first NFC Championship showdown in the 2010 season. The Packers outlasted the Chicago Bears in the conference title game and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks later. Had Rodgers and the Packers not won that Super Bowl, the narrative surrounding the 37-year-old’s supremacy would be markedly different. But – the Packers did win, so the speculation is moot. 

In the 2010 NFC Championship, however, Rodgers was statistically awful. He ended the contest with an absurd 55.4 Passer Rating on zero touchdown passes and two interceptions. That Packers squad boasted the NFL’s second-best defense in 2010, and it did the heavy lifting on that late-January day in 2011 versus Chicago. 

In four NFC Championship trips, Rodgers has thrown more than two touchdowns just once. That was four years ago in Atlanta, and the touchdown passes in that loss were primarily garbage-time scores. 

Another fun fact: Rodgers has gifted an interception to the opposition in each of his NFC Championship appearances.

3 Straight Unsuccessful Trips

Here’s something they don’t tell you on national television: Since 2014, the NFC Championship game has been mean to the city of Green Bay. Foremost, the Packers never earn home-game conference championships. When Rodgers trots onto Lambeau Field this Sunday, it will be the first home NFC Championship of his career. The last time Green Bay hosted such an event, Brett Favre was king. It was the final game that he would play with the Packers as the New York Giants got the best of Green Bay before eventually upending the perfect Patriots. 

After that, Rodgers took control of the franchise. He and 52 others won Super Bowl XLV over the Steelers. Rodgers was awarded the Super Bowl MVP. Then, they never returned to the league’s most prestigious game. 

En route to a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks shockingly overcame a Packers lead in the 2014 NFC Championship. Two years later, the Atlanta Falcons spanked Green Bay – thoroughly. And last season, the San Francisco 49ers out-schemed the Packers from the jump, authoring a 27-0 halftime lead. If it’s any consolation, every team that loses to Aaron Rodgers’ Packers loses in the Super Bowl two weeks later. Weird.

Brady on Deck

This must be the time for Rodgers to exact vengeance on phantom criticism, right? Probably – the team has the aforementioned homefield advantage and significant momentum. 

But there’s a hurdle. His last name is Brady. All Rodgers must do to return to the Super Bowl is dispatch the greatest football player of all-time from the postseason. It certainly can be done – Brady is not flawless. Brady also isn’t young. He will turn 44 (!!) this summer.

The Buccaneers and Packers met in Week 6 down in Florida. Tampa Bay crushed the Packers in one of Rodgers’ worst career performances. That’s probably all the more motivation for Green Bay to find retribution. All they have to do dethrone is Tom Brady – always a fun assignment.

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