Senior NFL Columnist

Ten things that intrigue me from NFL Week 17

The Packers will need Aaron Rodgers to return to his old form to have a chance against Chicago.  (USATSI)
The Packers will need Aaron Rodgers to return to his old form to have a chance against Chicago. (USATSI)

What will Packers QB Aaron Rodgers look like in his return to the lineup? -- After sitting out six weeks with a broken clavicle, Rodgers is scheduled to start this week against the Bears. If he can look like the same Rodgers, there's a good chance the Packers can go to Soldier Field and win.

Packers RB Eddie Lacy vs. the Bears' bottom-ranked run defense -- The Bears have been gashed by the run all season and Lacy had a big game against them in the first meeting. Can the Bears slow him down this time? I doubt it.

If Kyle Orton is forced to start, how will the Cowboys rally around him? -- Orton knows the system and this is why you pay him $10 million to be a backup. If the Cowboys can protect him, he will have chances against the Eagles down the field. But he doesn't move like Tony Romo.

Can the Cowboys slow down the high-flying Eagles offense? -- They did a great job in the first meeting, but that was a long time ago. Nick Foles has grown a lot since then and the Cowboys are minus key players from that game, including linebacker Sean Lee. This will be a huge challenge for the Cowboys.

Can the Dolphins bounce back against their rival for a potential playoff spot? -- They better. The Jets would love to end up 8-8 and knock Miami from the playoffs. So expect a battle here. The Miami offensive line had a rough go of it last week. The Jets front will be ready to attack.

Will the Broncos get to 600 points on the season and can Peyton Manning break the record for passing yards in a season? -- The Raiders aren't great on defense, so Manning should have his shots to break the record. The Broncos need 28 points to get to 600. Want to bet they get it?

The Bills' pressure vs. Patriots QB Tom Brady -- The Bills lead the NFL with 56 sacks. They had seven against Miami last week. They have three players with double-digits in sacks. Mario Williams is the key player and Logan Mankins might have to battle him at tackle this week if Nate Solder can't go.

How does Seattle respond after losing at home for the first time last week? -- They were bullied last week by the Cardinals and now face a tough Rams front. Can Russell Wilson and the offense bounce back? They can't go limping into the playoffs on that side of the ball.

Can the Saints get back on track after two consecutive losses in a game that could decide their playoff fate? -- They sure haven't looked like the Saints we've come to know the past two weeks, but that was on the road against two good defenses. Tampa Bay is readying for the offseason. How focused will they be? Look for Drew Brees to get the offense rolling again.

The defensive battle between Arizona and San Francisco -- If the Saints lose to the Bucs, not likely, the Cardinals can make the playoffs with a victory here, while the 49ers have a chance to win the division. Both teams will play hard and tough and both have good, physical defenses. It will be nasty.

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