A Glance At What Lies Ahead


The season isn't officially at the midway point, with seven games down and nine to go, but the placement of the bye week makes the remainder the de facto "second half" of 2008.

Here's a week-by-week look at what lies ahead for the Packers, who are 4-3, tied for first place in the NFC North, and riding a modest two-game winning streak as they hit the road for three of their next four contests.

Sunday, at Tennessee - The Packers will try to knock the Titans from the ranks of the unbeaten. Tennessee is the league's lone remaining undefeated team, and like the Packers, the Titans most recently beat AFC South power Indianapolis rather convincingly.

Coming off their bye, the Packers are getting healthier and may be catching Tennessee at the right time, on a short week after an intense divisional rivalry. But the Titans already have beaten Minnesota and play at Chicago next week, so this is a team with a large say in who wins the NFC North.

Nov. 9, at Minnesota - It's the rematch of Week 1, which the Packers won, but this time the Vikings have a different quarterback, with veteran Gus Frerotte under center rather than third-year pro Tarvaris Jackson.

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is 2-0 at the Metrodome and 5-0 overall against the Vikings, and this time Minnesota may be as desperate to beat Green Bay as it's ever been. The Packers haven't won six in a row in this series since its very beginning, the first six games from 1961-63.

Nov. 16, vs. Chicago - It's somewhat strange that the first meeting of 2008 against the Bears comes in the 10th game, but that's the case this year. Quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Aaron Rodgers are from the same draft class of 2005, a here-to-fore unheralded group that's looking much stronger now with Washington's Jason Campbell, Cleveland's Derek Anderson (originally drafted by Baltimore) and New England's Matt Cassel enjoying some success as well.

Nov. 24, at New Orleans - The first of two remaining Monday night contests takes the Packers to New Orleans, and McCarthy back for the first time to the stadium where he ran the Saints' offense from 2000-04. It's an entirely different cast of characters now, and Drew Brees and Co. already beat McCarthy once, in Week 2 at Lambeau Field back in 2006.

New Orleans sports the top-ranked passing offense in the league and has shown no signs of slowing down lately, despite injuries to weapons like Reggie Bush, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey. Green Bay's sixth-ranked passing defense, which leads the league in interceptions, gets its toughest test here.

Nov. 30, vs. Carolina - The Panthers are looking like a playoff team again from the NFC South, one year removed from a disappointing 2007 season that featured the loss of quarterback Jake Delhomme to an elbow injury. Delhomme was a young protégé of McCarthy's as a backup in New Orleans way back when, and he went 3-1 against his former mentor in Panthers-Saints matchups in 2003-04.

With the Vikings playing the Bears and the Buccaneers taking on the Saints, this becomes a huge Sunday for both the NFC North and South divisions.

{sportsad300}Dec. 7, vs. Houston - The Texans make their franchise's first trip to Lambeau Field and will bring with them some offensive firepower. At present, Houston has the fourth-ranked offense in the NFL (11th rush, 5th pass), and the players everyone will be watching will be the Texans' Andre Johnson and the Packers' Greg Jennings, who currently rank 1-2 in the NFL in receiving yards (Johnson 772, Jennings 685).

Dec. 14, at Jacksonville - The last of Green Bay's four games against the rugged AFC South comes on the road at a place the Packers haven't visited since 2001. Strangely enough, in the brief three-game series between the teams (1995, 2001, 2004), the road team has won every game.

Dec. 22, at Chicago - The second Bears game is a prime-time, Monday night affair that sees the Bears finishing a third straight week at home. With Chicago's previous game on a Thursday night, they will have extra time to rest up and prepare for the rematch with the Packers.

This marks the third straight year the Packers' trip to Chicago is in December, and the previous two games have both been blowouts - the first one Green Bay's way in 2006, the other Chicago's way last year. In both cases, the winning team was out of the playoff hunt and using the rivalry to play spoiler, but this year, both teams could have playoff and/or division title aspirations at stake here.

Dec. 28, vs. Detroit - These two teams will have played 13 games each since meeting one another in Week 2, and barring a major turnaround by the currently winless Lions, all Detroit might be playing for is to break its streak of futility on Wisconsin soil. The Packers have beaten the Lions 17 straight times (14-0 in Green Bay, 3-0 in Milwaukee), dating back to a December victory by Detroit at Lambeau in 1991.

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