A Season On the Brink

It's not yet Halloween and when you're 3-3 and no one in the NFC has less than two losses, it would be foolish to say that Sunday's game is do or die. But when you're the struggling Packers and you've dropped three of four, with road games left against the Jets, Patriots, Vikings and Falcons simple math says you've got to win the rest of your home games and it begins Sunday night.

For many of us, the lingering disappointment from 2009 is not the overtime playoff loss in Arizona. It's getting swept by Favre and the Vikings. Now the old gray-haired texter returns, we think for the final time, and the Pack needs this one badly. Most frustrating about those losses: the inability to put pressure on Favre. Zero sacks in two games. That has to change this year. It's possible the defense will get a boost with the return of Al Harris and Atari Bigby. Harris appears more ready to step in, since Ted Thompson parted with a precious draft pick to bring back safety Anthony Smith this week.

Despite playing the Dolphins without five of the top nine front seven players, the defense performed pretty well--certainly well enough to win the game. The task of taking care of the Purple will be much easier if Clay Matthews and Ryan Pickett are able to return--we'll be watching the reports from practice very closely this week to check on their progress.

Where this team must improve is offensively. The Pack's high-powered attack has been virtually grounded for long stretches of the last three games. The biggest concern is the inability to convert on third downs--just 20% over the past two and a half games. Besides putting more pressure on the D, it also puts punter Tim Masthay on the field more often and once again, that position is a train wreck.

With Minnesota's injuries in the secondary, expect the Pack to continue to run a lot of four receiver sets to find the matchup they like. If Chris Cook is still sidelined, McCarthy will seek out Lito Shepard and throw his way early and often.

It's time for Aaron Rodgers to make a statement and carry this team in a game they must have. Yes, he needs help. His coach needs to call some running plays. His line needs to protect him. His receivers need to catch the ball. But ultimately, Rodgers needs to pick everybody up and say, 'I got this.' A win at home over the Vikings wouldn't solve everything, but it would stop the bleeding and show the rest of the league that this team is not ready to go limping away just yet.


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