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The impending return of Aaron Rodgers complicates the NFC playoff picture

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It’s not good news for the Panthers, in particular.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers somehow muddled their way through weeks upon weeks without Aaron Rodgers, getting more out of their roster than you might have expected possible and watching Brett Hundley grow into something resembling a starting quarterback. And now, at 7-6, they look like they’ll get Aaron Rodgers back.

It’s hard to overstate just how big this could be for Green Bay. They get a crack at the 9-4 Panthers Sunday and get to see the NFC South cannibalize itself, and the Wild Card-contending Seahawks have to play the Rams, the Cowboys, and a game Cardinals team over the final three weeks. If the Packers get Aaron Rodgersish performances out of Aaron Rodgers, they could conceivably be 10-6 when the dust settles, and that might just be good enough to get them in as the sixth seed. The NFC looked like a seven team battle for a few weeks there, but this ain’t over yet.

The Falcons, luckily, have been nails against the Packers for the past couple of years, and have both a one game lead in the Wild Card race and a tiebreaker over Green Bay. Things could still get mighty interesting here in the final weeks, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Rodgers-led Packers, it’s that you can never count them out...in the regular season.