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Rodgers, Packers looking to end season on a high note before playoffs

From head to toe -- literally -- quarterback Aaron Rodgers feels ready to lead the Green Bay Packers on their playoff run in search of his second Super Bowl championship.

The Packers have put themselves in prime position by clinching a first-round bye with a 13-3 won-loss record that made them the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

There's a little work ahead of them -- Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field -- before they fully turn their attention to the postseason.

Rodgers insists he'll play Sunday, as well as his talented teammates, including star wide receiver Davante Adams.

He made that known in his postgame interview after Sunday's win over the Vikings that clinched the No. 1 seed and the bye.

"I want to play next week," Rodgers said. "I expect Davante and our guys to play. We're going to finish out the season on a high note, and then get to the bye."

Rodgers covered a lot of ground -- playing in cold weather in front of a full house at Lambeau Field, the many options available on the Packers' offense, and how the Lions played a minor role in the Packers getting their offense on track.

And, of course, there was an update on the condition of the toe on his left foot. It was broken in late November and affected his mobility.

All's well now, Rodgers insisted.

"This was another good week for me," Rodgers said. "No pregame shot. Got through the game without getting stepped on or any issues."

The Packers season started on a sour note -- a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the opening game.

Rodgers had one of his worst games, completing 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards, no TDs and two interceptions.

That sparked raging speculation that Rodgers' skills may have been diminished by a combination of age (he turned 38 in December ) and the offseason battle with the Packers' front office. There was also the suggestion that the Saints' defense had found the key to stopping the Packers' offense.

Rodgers reminded people that it was only one game, with 16 left. He bounced back in Week 2 with a 35-17 win over the Lions at Lambeau Field on Monday Night TV.

The Lions put up a decent fight, holding a 17-14 lead at halftime. The Packers took control in the second half.

"We played a team that had only two wins for the season," Rodgers said. "I felt like at midseason we started hitting our stride and finding ways to defeat Cover 12."

Rodgers completed 22 of 27 passes for 255 yards and four TDs against the Lions, who often have seen him at his best -- mostly because he always seems to be at his best.

He missed one game in the regular season because of COVID-19. In 15 games he passed for 3,977 yards, 35 TDs and four TDs -- with just two coming after the opening game.

He is the frontrunner to win his second straight MVP Award and fourth overall.

"I like the vibe of this team," he said. "I played significantly better in the last five or six games than I did early in the season.

"I've been in a little bit of a zone the last few weeks."

Rodgers brings out the best in his talented teammates.

Adams is having another big year -- 117 catches, 1,498 yards and 11 TDs.

They have a true dual threat at running back. Aaron Jones has rushed for 799 yards and four TDs. A.J. Dillon has 740 yards and five TDs.

The Packers have overcome injuries to key players. All-Pro offensive tackle David Bakhtiari still has not returned from a knee injury sustained last season. Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander has played only four games but appears to be on schedule to return for the playoffs, and possibly Sunday's game against the Lions.

"We've had a lot of key guys not playing for us," Rodgers said. "I really think there's a possibility of getting a few of those guys back for the stretch run. That's exciting."

So, for him, is the prospect of playing playoff games in wintry Lambeau to reach the Super Bowl.

"It's a different ballgame when it's cold at home," Rodgers said. "We handle the cold pretty well.

"That's what we're hoping for this year."

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