Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:15 AM EST odds are subject to change.
Green Bay +4 -110 over Dallas
4:25 PM EST. The Packers are now 3-6, which brings us to a new feature, “Is this rock bottom for Aaron Rodgers?”. To answer that question, we have to go back to the week of the 2021 NFL Draft. At that time, rumors had been swirling that Rodgers was ready to move on from the Packers after they did to him what they did to Brett Favre in the draft the year prior. That is, draft a young pivot instead of selecting a weapon for their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
We discuss how easy it is to play results, and looking back at a draft with 20/20 hindsight would fit that bill, but we’re going to do it anyway. The Packers have been perennial contenders under Rodgers. 2019 was no different. The Pack would finish 13-3 that season before losing the NFC Championship game in San Francisco. You may or may not remember, but Green Bay got waffled by the 49ers 37-20. The Packers were close to getting back to the top of the mountain after making the NFC Championship in 2016, but they still didn’t have the horses to get over the hump. More specifically, the receivers at Rodgers’ disposal were in need of a tune-up. Davante Adams was a rising star, but the reliable Jordy Nelson was gone and so, too, were the rest of the core that made up the Packers Championship run nearly a decade earlier. It was clear to anyone with two eyes and a pulse that #12, while still great, needed some help.
Fast forward to April 23, 2020. We were just over a month into the pandemic, but NFL business stops for nothing. In his nicest sweater, Uncle Roger was in his basement announcing the new crop of players coming into his league. It was pegged to be a loaded draft for those looking for help at the all important receiver position, and although the Packers would pick 30th, there was some optimism that one of the standout WRs would either fall or GB would move up to snag one. The first to go was Henry Ruggs to the Raiders at #12. A reach, but a classic Raiders pick. Next was Jerry Jeudy to Denver at #15. Then CeeDee Lamb to Dallas at #17 and Justin Jefferson at #22. There were still some quality options on the board, but when the 49ers, who had just embarrassed the Pack on their way to a Super Bowl appearance traded up to #25 and snagged Brandon Aiyuk. At that point, the Packers brass panicked and scrambled to make a move of their own, trading up from #30 to the #26 spot. With the likes of Tee Higgins, Michale Pittman and Chase Claypool still on the board (we told you this WR lot ran deep that year), the Packers made the questionable call to take quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State. History might not repeat itself, but goddamn does it ever rhyme.
Green Bay would post an identical 13-3 record in 2020, but their quest to bring the Lombardi Trophy home ended the same way it did the year before—in heartbreak, losing the NFC Championship game to the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers. Rodgers would win his third MVP—tying him with Favre—but that regular season accolade was no consolation. Would a Higgins, Pittman, or Claypool have been enough to put the Packers over the top? We’ll never know, but losing by five points to a Bucs team that was loaded with the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and even Antonio Brown could have changed the outcome.
Let’s get back to April 2021. Hours before the draft, it was reported that a deal between the Packers and 49ers, that would have sent #12 back home to The Bay Area was done. Signed, sealed, and delivered (almost). At the last minute, the Green Bay front office got cold feet and backed out of the deal. No biggie, if you can keep a lid on it, but in this day in age, that was going to be impossible. The story of the trade leaked before that night’s festivities. The Packers were caught with egg on their faces. It was embarrassing and it made the brass look like a clown show. Rather than take the king’s ransom for their aging and disgruntled QB, the Packers would re-sign Rodgers to a contract extension that would severely limit their ability to work within the rules of the salary cap. Green Bay did not “make good” that night and didn’t get Rodgers whomever he thought he needed to make a difference.
Green Bay would select safety Eric Stokes, leaving the likes of Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore on the draft board. Despite the lack of support, Rodgers would lead the Packers again to a 13-win season, winning his fourth MVP to pass Favre, but that regular season award was little consolation, as the Pack would drop a snoozer to the ‘Niners in the Divisional round 13-10. That’s when shit gets weird.
Rarely do our heroes ride with their heads held high into the sunset. It’s a story as old as time. This season, Brady and Rodgers are riding that dusty trail together. Fair or not, those legends are joined at the hip, as their struggles are a major story every week. Brady’s issues are self-inflicted. Dude had the chance to go out on top after two good seasons in Tampa, but couldn’t help himself and enjoy his retirement.
As for Rodgers, his downfall is a little more complicated, but between his “spiritual” trips to South America and appearances on Joe Rogan, #12 has polarized himself in a world that loves to pick sides. This offseason, Rodgers did little to engage himself with his young receivers (the Packers drafted Christian Watson in round 2, and Romeo Dubbs in round 4), skipping mini-camps and OTAs. He didn’t play in the preseason and spent more time expressing his views on medical “science” than worrying about football. At this level, talent will only get you so far. When you don’t put in the work, it shows. That’s why #12 is now taking so much shit. How can you cuss out your teammates on a weekly basis, when you are over and under throwing the ball to them left and right, while also not doing anything to help them get ready for the season? You can’t and you get called out for it. That’s where Rodgers is now. You’ve got Packers players saying Jordan Love is an “NFL starter” and that he’s better than many of the current starters in the league. That may be true. Only time will tell. However, we haven't even reached Thanksgiving and there are calls for Rodgers to hit the bench. That should tell you all you need to know about his and the Packers stock. Perhaps the great irony is that the Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy, with whom Rodgers had his greatest success, is coming back to Wisconsin this week with his 6-2 Cowboys.
In our never-ending quest to “buy low and sell high” Rodgers personal stock is at a career low. His decision-making on and off the field has been in question and he’s now being blamed for the Packers' plight. Both McCarthy and Rodgers have been waxing poetic about their time together, you know, the good old days. Big Mike even shed a few tears this week when asked about his time in Green Bay. It’s funny how time works because in the years since he was fired, the general consensus was that McCarthy’s many boneheaded coaching decisions cost the Packers more often than not. Under McCarthy, the Packers made the playoffs nine times, winning six division titles. Yes, they cashed in a Super Bowl, but looking back in his 12½ seasons in Green Bay with not one, but two Hall of Fame QBs at his disposal, there should be a case full of Lombardi Trophies in the Lambeau Field atrium at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
McCarthy's stock as a coach is at its highest in over a decade. The Cowboys had high expectations coming into the season, but once Dak Prescott was injured (again), it looked like they were sunk. Instead, under Cooper Rush, the ‘Boys not only were able to tread water, but they were able to keep up in the uber-competitive NFC East. At the halfway point 6-2 is good enough for a split of second place in that division, but now that Dallas has Prescott back, they are trending into that elite tier of teams in the eyes of this market. We know this because the Cowboys are favored on the road in Green Bay.
For some perspective, the Cowboys have not been in this position all year. Under Rush, the ‘Boys were 5½-point pooches v the Rams and 6½-point dogs in Philadelphia. Since Dak came back, Dallas has played two games. They were a 7-point favorite at home to the Lions, and then 10½ to the Bears. They easily covered both of those games. Dallas is now on a run of seven wins and covers in their last eight games, with their only loss coming to the undefeated Eagles. That run has the Cowboys looking like low-hanging fruit here. After all, they just destroyed (24-6) the same Lions that just beat the Packers. Perhaps the same fate awaits Green Bay, but if you back Dallas this week, you are buying them when their stock is soaring and Green Bay’s is plummeting. There are three home dogs this week. Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay. One of these things is not like the other.
Green Bay +4 -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)