By Adam Roberts – 12/28/2020
Litmus test games, sometimes called barometers of success, are commonplace in Week 16 of the NFL regular season. Teams often use this week to gauge their readiness for the postseason, and fans can use it to determine if their team is legit or perhaps a playoff imposter.
If this is the case, the Packers passed with fairly flying colors last night.
Running back Jamaal Williams was out last night to injury, and so A.J. Dillon played in his first real meaningful game. He made the most of it, rushing for 124 yards and two scores to compliment four Rodgers touchdown passes, including three to Davante Adams, in the 40-14 Green Bay win over Tennessee.
Dillon’s big game could serve as the catalyst for more in-depth offseason discussion over whether to keep Aaron Jones next year (he’ll be demanding money with his contract expiring after the season ends), or release Jones and stick with the rookie Dillon and Jamaal Williams.
For now, the win comes at the best possible time for Green Bay, who in addition to the fine night on offense were also pretty good on the other side of the ball. The much-vaunted Derrick Henry was held under 100 yards rushing on 23 carries and he didn’t score a touchdown, either. Mike Pettine was getting rare praise from Packers Twitter last night for his approach to Henry, often stacking eight or nine guys in the box to counter the ability of Henry to shake of initial contact.
As far as the playoff race goes, Green Bay was unable to clinch the #1 seed courtesy of Seattle beating LA, but they can do so Sunday with a win at Chicago. If they lose, they’ll need some help from the 49ers, who face Seattle in Week 17. For Chicago, a win puts them into the postseason at 9-7; otherwise, they’ll need the Rams to beat Arizona.