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Aaron Rodgers emerges as MVP candidate for Packers

One week after gutting the Cleveland Browns defense with Jarrett Boykin as his top target, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers generated a 130.6 passer rating without three of his four favorite receivers in Sunday night's 44-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley accounted for 54 percent of Rodgers' passing yards entering Week 8. Without benefit of their services, Rodgers still produced his second-best game of the season and one of the top 15 of what is shaping up as a Hall of Fame career.

A surgeon as a passer and an escape artist in the pocket, Rodgers continues to put on a quarterback clinic no matter who lines up outside or in the slot.

As well as Rodgers is playing, perhaps the most troublesome sign for the rest of the NFC North is the Packers' newfound balance on offense.

Rookie Eddie Lacy is leading the NFL in rushing the past four weeks, averaging 27 touches per game as the type of reliable workhorse not seen in Green Bay since Ahman Green's prime. A team that couldn't run the ball last season is averaging over 140 rushing yards per game at nearly five yards per clip this season.

Despite major injuries to star players on both sides of the ball, the Packers are playing as well as any team in the league since their Week 4 bye.

With just three games remaining against teams with winning records -- two versus a Bears team with an injured quarterback -- Rodgers has his squad in a three-way race with the Saints and Seahawks for a playoff bye. It's time to put him in the MVP discussion with Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Jamaal Charles.

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