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Keys to the Game: Packers vs. Bears

Green Bay Packers

Avoid turnovers

The main goal for the Green Bay Packers on Monday night against the Chicago Bears is to avoid turnovers. Chicago is ranked fifth in the NFL with a plus-7 turnover ratio. The Packers are minus-2. The Packers are riding a four-game winning streak but could lose if they give the Bears extra chances.

Throwing contest

With Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the sideline with a groin injury and Josh McCown making the start, the Packers want to score early and fast. Forcing the 11-year backup to try to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense will likely lead to good things for the Packers. The more pressure McCown feels, the more likely he is to make mistakes.


Chicago Bears

Stay balanced


Keys to the Game: Packers at Vikings

Green Bay Packers

Ball hawk

With the Minnesota Vikings playing musical chairs at their quarterback spot, as of early Thursday it wasn’t clear who would get the starting nod on Sunday. Newly acquired Josh Freeman was expected to be the starter but was suffering from concussion-like symptoms early in the week. If Freeman can’t play, expect them to start Christian Ponder, who lost his starting job this season. Whoever ends up behind center, it’s a good bet they will give the Packers’ secondary plenty of opportunities to get the ball. The Packers have to take advantage of those opportunities.

Get Rodgers going


That's a wrap for Metrodome

One last dance in the Hubert Horatio Humphrey Metrodome.

On Sunday the Green Bay Packers will bid adieu to the Metrodome, as the Minnesota Vikings play their last season in the stadium that has been their home since 1982.

“There’s been a lot of great games there, I’ll say that,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “There’s so many good memories, there’s some tough ones, too. It’s a very difficult place to play, always has been.”

The Packers have a respectable 14-16 record in the Metrodome, including plenty of good and bad memories.

The first Packers-Vikings game at the Metrodome was played Nov. 13, 1983, and pitted coaches Bart Starr and Bud Grant against each other. The Packers won 29-21.


Packers beat Browns 31-13

The Green Bay Packers just plug away.

Dealing with a slew of injuries, and suffering another one Sunday, the Packers continue to be productive, winning easily 31-13 over the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field.

Already missing receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, Aaron Rodgers lost tight end Jermichael Finley in the fourth quarter to a scary neck injury.

A silent Lambeau Field watched Finley get carted off, but, as with the team’s other injuries, the Packers went back to work.

“I think players on both sides of the ball were obviously concerned for Jermichael,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought the officials did a nice job there of not rushing back into the game. (We) were able to have communication, kind of reset our clock there. … You just have to give credit to your players in those types of situations.”


Packers counting on reserves

The phrase next man up is back in Green Bay.

The Green Bay Packers are once again dealing with epidemic-level injuries. In response, the draft-and-develop team is relying on young players to get the team through the rough patch, just as it has in past seasons.

“At the end of the day, we always talk about next man up, and that’s what we have going on here,” tight end Jermichael Finley said.

The injuries are forcing second- and third-stringers into starting roles, putting extra pressure on the starters who remain and limiting what the Packers can do.

“It’s a lot of adjustment, a lot of planning for different scenarios and things like that,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Obviously personnel groups on both sides are stressed. We feel like we have a good plan and we’re ready to go.”


Keys to the Game: Packers vs. Browns

Green Bay Packers

Next man up

The Green Bay Packers have seen this script before. The injuries are piling up. The game-day roster is starting to fill with rookies and free agents. The Packers don’t skip a beat. At least that is what happened in 2010 when the team overcame injuries to win the Super Bowl. The injury bug has hit again, and again the Packers will need the next man up philosophy. At some point the Packers will start to get healthy again, but until then the cast of practice squaddies and third-stringers will have to get the Packers through a few games.

Get turnovers


Packers rushing to victory

The Green Bay Packers have a running game.

Not only that, it’s the kind of running game that is helping the Packers win games.

Rookie running back Eddie Lacy’s performance Sunday — 23 carries for 99 yards — is exactly the reason the Packers committed to improving the running game and moving away from a pass-happy, one-dimensional offense.

Following a 15-1 season in 2011, but a one-and-done playoff run, the Packers’ coaching staff identified the running game as the only way to improve on offense. That year the Packers’ offense set records for yards and points, but was famously one-dimensional. It was good enough to win games, but not championships.

Lacy, who has been part of a backfield that is averaging 141 yards rushing per game and is ranked No. 5 in the NFL in rushing, ran the ball hard Sunday. While few of his plays were flashy, and he didn’t reach the end zone, Lacy’s running threat changed the flow of that game.


Keys to the Game: Packers at Ravens

Green Bay Packers

Don’t Miss Matthews

The Green Bay Packers will have to adjust quickly to life without Clay Matthews, who will miss multiple weeks with a broken thumb. Someone on the defense will need to step up and provide the pass rush. The absence could be an opportunity, as the Packers’ outside linebackers feel the pressure to perform with the spotlight trained fully on their performances. When Matthews does return to the lineup, the Packers could find themselves with more dependable players opposite their star pass rusher.

Get Rodgers Right

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has played fine in the last two games, but the performances have not been up to the level everyone has come to expect from Rodgers. With big question marks on the defensive side of the ball and facing a tough run defense, Rodgers needs to bring his A game Sunday. A stellar performance by Rodgers can mask a lot of deficiencies elsewhere.


Packers beat Lions 22-9

Wolf River Media Photo by Gerrard Diaz Packers kicker Mason Crosby hits one of his five field goals against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers got 16 points from Mason Crosby in a 22-9 win over the Detroit Lions in a key NFC North Division match-up Sunday at Lambeau Field.

With two of the leagues’ most prolific offenses on the field, it was Crosby, the kicker who struggled a season ago but has been perfect this season, went five for five on field goals and helped the Packers maintain a lead throughout the game.

“I’m real proud of Mason,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “It’s great to see him kicking the way we know he’s capable of kicking.”

Crosby never had a five-field goal game before Sunday, an accomplishment that tied him with Chris Jacke and Ryan Longwell for the franchise record for most field goals in a game.

“I’m really pumped about that,” Crosby said. “It’s really cool, but at the same time, it’s awesome that it came with a win. Sometimes you get a lot of field goals and it doesn’t come with a win.”


Offensive line rounds into shape

Photo by Cory Dellenbach The Packers offensive line opens a hole for running back James Starks during Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field. Sunday's performance hinted at how good the offensive line could be this season.

James Starks rightly got his due for finally breaking the 100-yard rushing bugaboo for the Packers.

Starks’ hard running inspired his teammates, especially the offensive line, who in turn responded with some superb blocking Sunday.

“It was just exciting for the entire offense as a whole to watch a guy go out there and run like that,” center Evan Dietrich-Smith said. “I think he set a tone with that hit on the sideline against (Brandon) Meriweather. He set the standard there. We have to keep hitting it. We have to keep it going throughout the year.”

The Packers quest for a better running game began in the offseason, with the drafting of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin.


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