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Tuesday Cheese Curds: Za’Darius Smith takes over as Packers win the NFC North

Could Smith yet another defensive free agent signing that leads to a Lombardi Trophy?

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Two previous Green Bay Packers general managers had a signing of a veteran defensive player become a staple of their Super Bowl winning teams.

Ron Wolf of course had Reggie White who was the first big free agent in NFL history and was a key anchor of the Super Bowl XXXI-winning team. Ted Thompson had Charles Woodson who came with significantly less fanfare than White but whose impact on the Super Bowl XLV-winning squad is already stuff of legend.

It’s really hard to make a declaration not even one year into a four-year contract, but could Za’Darius Smith be the same kind of player for Brian Gutekunst?

It’s already a question on a lot of people’s minds after Smith had an absolutely dominant performance against the Minnesota Vikings last night to wrap up an NFC North championship for the Packers.

Smith has been stellar all season (not a Pro Bowler though?) and Gutekunst signed him to have the kind of game he had last night in that kind of moment. Smith’s immediate on-field impact is arguably the biggest the Packers have had on defense since White (don’t forget it took Woodson a couple years to become the Chuck Woodson we now all know and love).

Don’t forget the off-field impact Smith has had either. Aaron Rodgers himself has acknowledged what Za’Darius, as well as Preston Smith, have brought to the locker room has helped change the culture around the entire team. The team is having more fun than any other one in recent memory and the joint Preston/Za’Darius interviews are gold.

We don’t know where the journey will end for the 2019 Packers, but it will end in a much happier place than the previous two seasons and fans owe a lot of that to Za’Darius Smith.

Now onto some NFC North championship cheese curds.

After Pro Bowl snub, Za’Darius Smith plays dominant role in Packers’ victory over Vikings (subscription required)—

Smith might actually be OK with the Pro Bowl snub because he’d rather be preparing for Super Bowl LIV that week anyway.

Aaron Jones bounces back to lift Packers’ offense in second half—

An impressive performance from Aaron Jones after an early fumble and drop put the Packers in a precarious position early. Jones is now just 16 yards shy of his first 1,000 yard rushing season.

Can the high-seeded, win-ugly Packers really contend for the Super Bowl?—ESPN

Yes. Yes they can. This narrative is something that could fuel the Packers all the way to a Lombardi Trophy and I don’t think many fans will complain if the team wins “ugly” all the way to Miami.

Panthers interview ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy—

Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy has had his first interview. It’s worth noting Carolina will come to Lambeau Field in 2020.

What Would Happen If Funny Christmas Movie Accidents Happened in Real Life?—Gizmodo

Home Alone’s traps would be deadly in actuality. Kevin McAlister is actually a madman!