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Offensive player rankings, Week 13: Brett Hundley spawns hope

The fate of the Green Bay Packers' 2017 season looked dismal when Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 6. Honestly, I didn't think head coach Mike McCarthy would be able to stick with his base offense and win with Brett Hundley at the reins.

When Hundley got his first start back in Week 7, I wanted McCarthy to tweak his system and make it more quarterback-friendly by allowing the third-year pro to operate mostly outside of the pocket. It's cleaner for a quarterback without a lot of experience to run bootleg and sprint-out passes, which are one- or two-person progressions. There's not a ton on the signal caller's plate and it doesn't matter what coverage the defense is in.

But after watching Hundley's stellar performance Sunday night against the Steelers, I realized that the Packers are so close to winning with him. And Hundley knows it.

"I didn't like my performance (against Baltimore) and tried to make sure, to the best of my ability, it will never happen again," Hundley told the assembled media after Sunday's three-point loss. "I just want to give this team an opportunity to win, and I feel like we're close. We are really close. But we've just got to keep putting on points and try to score every time we get the ball."

I can't believe how much Hundley has improved from the pocket in five weeks. The difference really is night and day. Sunday, Hundley threw with timing and accuracy -- he wasn't hesitating. If the play wasn't there when going through progressions, he bought time with his feet -- inside or outside of the pocket -- and was able to keep plays alive. On the night, Hundley completed 17 of his 26 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions and a career-high passer rating of 134.3. All in all, he has improved significantly over his last three games when compared to his first three games -- including Week 6, when Rodgers exited in the first quarter at Minnesota. Over the past three, Hundley has completed more passes (64.4 percent vs. 58.3 percent) for more yards (232 yards per game vs. 163 ypg) with a better TD-to-INT ratio (4:3 vs. 1:4). He has also recorded a significantly higher passer rating (90.0 vs. 58.0).

These are positive signs, no doubt, and as helpful as it's been having Rodgers help with preparation throughout the week, Hundley is executing. He has looked more comfortable in the pocket and running this offense in general with more reps. Based on what I saw in the Pittsburgh game, if Hundley continues that rhythm, timing and accuracy -- while taking care of the football -- the 5-6 Packers can absolutely win the next two games (vs. Bucs and at Browns) to get back above .500.

And if all goes perfectly for the Packers -- that's a big IF -- they could be in a best-case scenario in terms of Rodgers' recovery. He was seen throwing the ball 50 yards before "Sunday Night Football" just six weeks after surgery on his collarbone. That's remarkable. When I injured my shoulder during my 11-year career, I remember already thinking about returning when I could barely play catch from 15 yards away. Rodgers is throwing balls half the distance of the field. What a good sign for Packers fans.

Rodgers can make his return to the field, at the earliest, Week 15 at Carolina. Then could play out the remainder of the regular season against Minnesota at home and Detroit on the road. If Rodgers does in fact play in Green Bay's final three contests, the Packers have a real chance to run the table. I'm never going to say Rodgers can't win a game; I don't care who it's against.

It's a tall order -- but doable. At 10-6, I predict the Packers would sneak into the playoffs as the NFC's sixth seed and be the team nobody wants to face.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.

It's so hard to choose a better player for the league MVP award than this 40-year-old. Brady was 4-for-4 with four touchdown passes in the red zone against Miami on Sunday. This season, he has 20 passing touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone. Wow!

It's not shocking that the football world got another huge performance from Brown in prime time. He put on a clinic against the Packers, racking up 10 catches on 12 targets for 169 receiving yards and two touchdowns. AB's been my top receiver all year, so yes, JuJu -- I agree.

Bell showed off his spectacularly balanced skill set Sunday night, as he rushed for 95 yards on 20 carries and hauled in 88 receiving yards on 12 receptions. This is the kind of performance the Steelers consistently need from Bell to ensure a deep playoff run.

The Eagles sit at 10-1 with the top seed in the NFC due to the maturity of Wentz. We saw yet again Sunday how effective he is, completing 23 of his 36 passes for 227 yards and three scores -- good for a 109.4 passer rating. A tough two-game stretch will give him a glimpse of what he could face in the postseason.

Wilson continues to be Seattle's offense, as he has accounted for 82.5 percent of scrimmage yards this season. He also leads the team in rushing yards with 401. I'm not sure how long he can keep doing this, but it sure is impressive.

The third-year back is right at the center of the Rams' offensive success. His production makes Jared Goff and the passing game better. In Sunday's win, Gurley had 128 scrimmage yards -- his eighth game of 100-plus scrimmage yards this season, most in the NFL. If I'm Sean McVay, I'm going to keep leaning on Gurley, who seems like a veteran on this young offense.

The thing about Hopkins and Antonio Brown is that they can put up 125 yards -- like Hopkins did Monday night -- and it gets overlooked. That's how good these guys are on the regular. He put up a buck-25 on a night when his jersey was ripped from constant, physical coverage against Baltimore. Is Deshaun Watson healthy yet? Ugh.

The Saints' eight-game win streak was snapped Sunday in a contest that saw the Rams slow the run game. With the Saints running a season-low 52 offensive plays, Kamara's touches were limited -- but he still made them count. Kamara finished with five carries for 87 yards (17.4 yards per carry) and one touchdown, while hauling in six receptions on six targets for 101 yards and a score. The dynamic rookie was dialed in.

Brees didn't do anything great when the Rams shut down the Saints' backfield tandem, throwing for just one TD and 246 yards on Sunday. The Rams bounced back last week, and I'm curious to see if the Saints do the same this week in a big divisional bout vs. Carolina.

The Rams rebounded in a big way with Goff leading the charge. He notched his fourth career 300-yard passing game and tossed two TDs in the win. The second-year QB's playing with a lot of confidence, and his ability to bounce back from his Week 11 performance shows me that he's embracing being the Rams' guy.

Finally! This is the Julio Jones we all know and love: recording 12 receptions for 253 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. It was his third career game with at least 250 receiving yards -- no other player in NFL history has more than one. If Julio would've been putting up numbers even remotely close to this earlier, he'd be in my top five.

Thielen's 89 receiving yards in Minnesota's Thanksgiving win in Detroit put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his NFL career. With 1,005 receiving yards through 11 games, Thielen is the fourth Vikings player to surpass the mark since 2002, joining Randy Moss (2002, 2003), Nate Burleson (2004) and Sidney Rice (2009). With five games left, there's still time to tack on to his best season yet.

It wasn't a productive day for any of the Chiefs, including Kelce. Sunday's loss marked the fifth time this season that Kelce has been held to 40 or fewer receiving yards. Still, he creates huge mismatches down the field and has the ability to get the Chiefs out of problems when they lean on him.

Ingram's balled out in recent weeks, so it's only natural that he has a down week. I just didn't expect him to drop off like he did Sunday. After averaging 106 rushing yards in Weeks 6 through 11, Ingram had a grim 31 rushing yards against the Rams. Future opponents will look to follow the same formula and slow him down -- easier said than done.

Gronk made the most of his five receptions Sunday, as two went for touchdowns. When Brady and Gronk are on the same page, there aren't many tandems that can compare.

Dropped out: Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs (previously No. 9).


Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: His production has diminished the last four games (just 43.3 rushing yards and 58 scrimmage yards per outing). His hard running style still makes him a force.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Allen is heating up for the Chargers, averaging 11.5 receptions for 165.5 receiving yards over his last two games. He dominated the Cowboys' secondary, putting up a career-high 172 receiving yards and a score to help the Bolts keep the playoffs within reach.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Cousins didn't have his best outing against the Giants, but he did enough to help his team win. I still like the way he's playing this year. The guy deserves more credit than Washington gives him.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: Despite a two-catch, 15-yard performance against the Titans, Hilton belongs in this list. He's super talented, but needs to be more consistent.

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8.

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