Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) celebrates his touchdown with head coach Jason Garrett during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)
Richard Lipski
December 29, 2014

Aaron Rodgers will get an extra week's rest for his aching left calf - the one Ndamukong Suh stepped on (more on that later) - thanks to having led the Packers to a fourth consecutive NFC North title and the conference's No. 2 seed.

After aggravating his injury and being carted away in the first half, Rodgers returned to hear ''MVP!'' chants from the Lambeau Field faithful during Green Bay's 30-20 victory over Suh's Detroit Lions on a snowy Sunday in Wisconsin. Rodgers scored on a 1-yard sneak once he came back and finished 17 of 22 for 226 yards passing, including a pair of TD throws and zero interceptions.

While Rodgers and the Packers (12-4) made the Lions the NFC's No. 6 seed, just take a look at who's No. 1: Seattle.

Yes, the reigning Super Bowl champions' 3-3 start is a distant memory, and a 20-6 victory over St. Louis allowed the Seahawks (12-4) to finish atop the NFC West. Since linebacker Bobby Wagner returned from a right foot injury, Seattle is 6-0, allowing an average of 6.5 points.

It's been a decade since New England won consecutive NFL championships, the longest stretch without a repeat champion in nearly a half-century of Super Bowls. But Seattle could end that drought.

Next weekend, it'll be Detroit at Dallas, and Arizona at Carolina in the NFC; Cincinnati at Indianapolis, and Baltimore at Pittsburgh in the AFC.

New England and Denver earned the AFC's top two seeds.

The Steelers will await word on the status of running back Le'Veon Bell, who left Sunday night's AFC North-clinching 27-17 win over the Bengals with a knee injury after getting hit by Reggie Nelson (who got an earful from Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin after the game.)

The Lions could face the Cowboys without Suh. His cleat twice wound up on the lower left leg of Rodgers, who then shoved away the 300-plus-pound defensive tackle.

Remember: Suh was suspended for two games by the NFL after stomping on the right arm of Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith during a Thanksgiving Day game in 2011. (On Sunday, Detroit played without center Dominic Raiola, who was suspended for stepping on a Bears player last week.)

In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL's 17th - and final - regular-season Sunday:

FLOPS: Given a chance to make the playoffs by winning, the Chargers and Falcons flopped. San Diego had more turnovers (two) than points (zero) in the second half of a 19-7 loss to Kansas City, while Atlanta rolled over in a 34-3 defeat against Carolina.

BLACK MONDAY: We know Jim Harbaugh is leaving the 49ers. Who'll join him on the way out? Jets coach Rex Ryan and Bears coach Marc Trestman are expected to be let go, Falcons coach Mike Smith's run could be over, too, and Oakland probably will replace interim coach Tony Sparano. Assistants who could get consideration for a top job: Arizona's Todd Bowles and Cleveland's Kyle Shanahan.

COWBOYS RECORDS: As the NFC East champ Cowboys routed the rival Redskins 44-17, DeMarco Murray broke Emmitt Smith's franchise record for rushing yards in a season by getting to 1,845, and Dez Bryant eclipsed Terrell Owens' team mark for touchdown catches in a season by grabbing his 16th. Dallas is only the sixth team since 1978 to go 8-0 in away games - and four of the other five reached the Super Bowl.

WE'RE NO. 1: Well, sort of. While some clubs were concerned with playoff permutations, Tampa Bay was busy letting a lead slip away in a 23-20 loss to New Orleans that gave the Buccaneers the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. In need of a quarterback, the Bucs could end up with Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.

WHAT ABOUT WATT: It's been more than a quarter-century since a defensive player won NFL MVP honors (Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986), and Rodgers might have sealed his second award with his back-from-injury performance Sunday. But Houston defensive end J.J. Watt completed a remarkable individual season in a 23-17 win over Jacksonville, adding three sacks, a forced fumble and a safety. Watt's 20 1/2 sacks make him the first player with a pair of 20-sack seasons.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Online:

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