It's Christmas Eve at the NFL's house and there's a 400-pound gorilla sauntering around the dinner table, fully prepared to take whatever he wants. Aaron Rodgers is looking at the table and understands the circumstances the Packers have ahead of them, a very simple opportunity to take the NFC North and continue a regular-season hot streak into the playoffs.

Rodgers looked totally locked in Saturday while carving up the Vikings for three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the first half of his team's 38-25 victory. He would finish with four passing touchdowns, 347 passing yards and the rushing score.

Rodgers said he was basically seeing the Matrix.

"From the first throw today, I was in a different head space ... at a heightened awareness and focus," Rodgers said.

Xavier Rhodes probably found himself in a weird and unusual headspace as well, having had his entire body shattered by Rodgers on the touchdown run.

Let's slow that one down and look at where Rhodes actually ended up at the weirdest spot.

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via NFL/Twitter

He's like 6 yards away!

Adding to the domination of Minnesota, Rodgers became the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Vikings this season.

It's part of a larger trend for him since he got into the second half of the season, and boy do these splits look scary for the rest of the league:

Comp/Att (%)Yards/GameYards/AttTD/INTQB Rating
Weeks 1-10233/369 (63.1)2686.522/793.9
Weeks 11-16141/202 (69.8)2868.514/0118.8

Remember in 2010 when the Packers went on a league-destroying stretch of football, sneaked into the playoffs during the last week and ultimately won the Super Bowl? Yeah, this performance by Rodgers looks eerily similar. The defense isn't as good as it was in 2010, but it is still capable of creating turnovers, which was really the hallmark of that championship defense anyway.

In a larger sense of this season, it warrants discussion whether Rodgers should now be the top candidate to win the 2016 NFL MVP.

The short answer is "yes," and the longer answer isn't much more complicated, really. Rodgers passes just about every test you need for an MVP:

  • He's playing at a high level. Look at the table above. Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception in six games.
  • The rest of the field is questionable. Matt Ryan and Tom Brady are the only legitimate competition if we're being honest.
  • Value is not in question. Without Rodgers, the Packers might be the third-best team in the NFC North. He's that valuable.
  • He has been good all season. Even though the narrative of Rodgers early in the season was about him struggling, the numbers don't really back it up. Look how he played in the first 10 weeks of the season. He wasn't otherwordly, but he was still a really good quarterback who has taken it to another level lately.
  • Late-season bonus. Week 16 and Week 17 shouldn't matter more to MVP voters, but they do when it comes down to it, and Rodgers lighting up the Lions next week to win the division might put him over the top.

What we want in an MVP is someone -- usually a quarterback -- who rises above the rest of the league, lights up the scoreboard, puts his team on his back and leads his team to the playoffs. The Packers look like the scariest team in the NFL right now, and Rodgers looks like a good bet to win MVP.

Here are five more takeaways from a bursting Saturday slate of games.

1. Really bad day for young QBs

The most fun team to watch in the NFL this year has, unquestionably, been the Oakland Raiders. Whether it was Jack Del Rio's willingness to lay it all on the table or Derek Carr's ability to come from behind and play lights-out in the fourth quarter or even Marquette King's punter swag, this was just a fascinating squad that strutted its way to 12 wins and the first Raiders playoff berth since 2002.

And then Saturday against the Colts everything went up in smoke when Carr suffered a broken fibula while being sacked.

It was obvious as soon as Carr hit the ground and grabbed at his leg. He knew the score and so did everyone else.

Carr is now out indefinitely, but for all intents and purpose he's done for the year. It's not reasonable to expect him to return for the playoffs, even if the Raiders, who closed out a 33-25 victory over the Colts behind Matt McGloin, were to barnstorm to the AFC title game (likely to be played in New England, barring the Pats losing to the Dolphins in Week 17).

The Raiders were already a team with some question marks because of their defensive liabilities. Now without Carr to rev up the offense, they'll lean on McGloin. It's not a good scene for an Oakland team that has been one of the best stories of the year.

It may have been even more brutal for the Tennessee Titans, who not only lost Marcus Mariota for the season with a broken leg, but also saw their playoff chances go up in smoke.

The Titans lost to the Jaguars 38-17 in a game that included a Blake Bortles receiving touchdown, which should tell you everything you need to know about the level of intensity Doug "The Douggernaut" Marrone brought to his first game as Jags interim head coach.

The Titans were eliminated from the playoff race when the Texans edged the Bengals on Saturday night. But the reality of Tennessee's situation is things went from very promising to very dark in one bad afternoon.

The real tragedy is that Carr and Mariota are excellent young quarterbacks. It's horrible to see their development derailed by brutal injuries, not to mention the selfish shame of not getting to see them operate late in the season and potentially in the playoffs.

2. No holiday card for Jay from Rex

If the Miami Dolphins want to pinpoint one person who helped turn their season around, it has to be Jay Ajayi. He ran behind an incredible offensive line that deserves a ton of credit, but Ajayi threw up some huge numbers after being installed as the starter in Adam Gase's offense, joining an elite group of running backs when he posted his third 200-yard day of the season Saturday in the Dolphins' 34-31 overtime victory over the Bills.

He should tip his cap to the Bills and Rex Ryan/Rob Ryan for the historic accomplishment. If he hadn't played the Bills this year, he probably doesn't hit the marker, because two of his three 200-yard games came against Buffalo. Ajayi didn't even have the highest rushing total of the year, either. That belongs to Le'Veon Bell, who put up huge numbers against ... the Bills.

If Rex ends up getting fired in Buffalo, which seems extremely likely after another bad loss in the division, the horrific rush defense will be among the primary reasons.

3. Look out for the Falcons

Much of the talk in the NFC has been about the Cowboys (understandably), the suddenly hot Bucs (well, until Saturday) and the peaking Packers.

But while virtually nobody was paying attention, the Falcons clinched a playoff spot Saturday after the Raiders beat the Colts (thanks to strength of schedule), then turned that into the NFC South title once the Saints beat the Bucs 31-24, then jumped into the No. 2 seed after the Seahawks fell to the Cardinals (more on that in a sec).

You can check out how the entire playoff picture was affected by Saturday's action here.

4. The trickle-down effect of another brutal injury

It might go under the radar a little bit because of the quarterbacks who suffered injuries Saturday, but the Tyler Lockett injury for the Seahawks might flip the entire NFC. Lockett, while going for a reception, was dealt a brutal blow when he likely broke something in his lower leg.

Insult to injury was added because Lockett, who initially was ruled to have scored a touchdown on the play, got marked down at the 1-yard line instead of getting the score. The Seahawks wouldn't punch the ball in despite having four opportunities to do so. They lost 34-31 when all was said and done.

Russell Wilson was fantastic late in the fourth quarter, going 13 of 16 for 187 yards and three touchdowns. So the Seahawks aren't done because of a Lockett injury, but look at how Saturday played out for Seattle. This was a guy who was emerging as the Seahawks' primary deep threat. He posted a career high in yardage last week and could've scored two first-half touchdowns against the Cardinals. Instead he's (likely) done for the year.

The Seahawks aren't the same team they used to be, and can't run the ball in the same way. They need Wilson and the passing game to provide an attack at different levels in order to operate at maximum efficiency. They also need the offense to overcome the loss of Earl Thomas for the defense.

Without Lockett they won't be as dynamic and they won't be as dangerous deep. Making matters worse is the actual loss moving them to the No. 4 seed in the NFC, thanks to a Falcons victory. If Atlanta wins next week, the Seahawks won't get a bye and most likely won't have home-field advantage beyond the wild-card round.

Life in the NFL is a sprint down a fragile tightrope, as Seattle found out in Week 16.

5. The Browns are winners twice on Saturday

The Browns gave the city of Cleveland a Christmas miracle by winning 20-17. You can read all about it here.

Making the victory even better? The victory ultimately didn't cost the Browns the lead for the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. They briefly moved behind the 49ers based on strength of schedule, but the 49ers nabbed their second win of the season against the Rams later in the day. So thanks, Santa!

Related: The 49ers are 2-0 against the Rams and 0-13 against everyone else. At least Jeff Fisher knows Saturday's loss can't be blamed on him.