NFC playoff picture: Cowboys, Packers among trusted

Harrison played four years with the New York Jets before signing a five-year, $46.25 million deal with $24 million guaranteed to help the Giants stop their opponents’ run game. He’s been a great addition this season with 55 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

If the Giants are able to stop Aaron Rodgers this weekend, this might go down as one of the best excuses to play video games of all-time. If someone gripes and says you’re spending too much time playing Madden, just say “I’m training.” It might work for you too.

“Because he wasn’t at the combine, teams have to bring him in. They have to talk to him in person, they have to get all medical questions answered,” Garafolo told Up to the Minute Live on Thursday.

Running back is a position of need for Green Bay. Former Packer Eddie Lacy went to the Seattle Seahawks via free agency. The Packers hold the No. 29 overall pick in the first round, and select No. 61 overall in the second round. NFL personnel executives have told NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah in recent days that Mixon will come off the board in the second round.

Evans started all 16 games for New Orleans last year and finished as the 36th-ranked player at his position, per Pro Football Focus.

Green Bay has a need at the position after losing right guard T.J. Lang to the Lions. Instead of having to burn a draft pick on a lineman, the Packers will allow Evans to fend off the likes of Don Barclay, Kyle Murphy and Lucas Patrick for the starting role.

What is the ninth seed doing here? All you have to do is watch Green Bay’s growth on offense and the recent work of Aaron Rodgers, who has graded out as the NFL‘s best quarterback since Week 7, per Pro Football Focus. Take this to the bank: The Packers will win the NFC North and cheap jerseys and operate as the rowdy, jelling squad nobody wants to deal with come January. Left for dead a month ago, Green Bay has risen.

Playoff experience matters, and no team on the list brings more of it than Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. Considering their schedule, it’s not impossible to imagine an 11-4-1 finish, which would put them in solid position for the second seed if Detroit stumbles. Still, the offense has put up totals of 3, 5, 6, 10 and 12 points this season, with their latest stinker coming Sunday against the surging Packers. Seattle has earned our trust over the past four seasons, but can the Seahawks win games on the road against Dallas, Green Bay or even Atlanta?

“It came to really letting him just see the game with calmer eyes,” Pederson said. “Letting him see with a different perspective on the game. He handled it really well. I was going back and forth with it all week.”

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported last week that there was a “real” chance Agholor could sit against the Packers. Pederson echoed that Wednesday, saying the pass-catcher needed a “big week” of practice to keep his role.

“Then, look at — OK, we had a lot of young guys on the back end. On top of them being young guys, they were hurt. One guy had a hernia surgery in season and continued to play (Damarious Randall). Still No. 6 in sacks. So for us to have had the success we had, still make it to the NFC Championship game with as banged up as we were on the back end, I think we did a heck of a job. Especially against teams coming in full power all season.”

While Daniels is right, it would be inaccurate to assume that this defense doesn’t need some work. Green Bay spent their first four draft picks this year — cornerback Kevin King, safety Josh Jones, defensive tackle Montravius Adams and linebacker Vince Biegel — on the defensive side of the ball despite some fairly pressing needs at running back and for some depth across the offensive line.