As Head Coach Mike McCarthy has reviewed the season-opening shutout loss to the Bears this week, one glaring offensive failure was inescapable.
The Sept. 10 opener was an exercise in frustration in that area for the Packers. On their first three possessions, they faced a pair of third-and-1's, a third-and-3, and a fourth-and-1. They failed to convert on all of them, as running back Ahman Green was stopped for no gain twice, quarterback Brett Favre was sacked once, and Favre was stopped on a fourth-down sneak.
"The biggest breakdown on offense was our situational offense, starting with the third down," McCarthy said. "I thought we ran the ball particularly well early in the game, and that was the course we intended on taking going into that game, and the short-yardage was our breakdown there in the first half."
The early struggles laid the groundwork for a combined 3-for-14 conversion rate on third and fourth downs, and the offense never crossed Chicago's 35-yard line the entire game.
Obviously, the Packers are looking for a much stronger performance in the rematch on Sunday, both in short-yardage situations and in the red zone, where the offense hasn't maximized on its opportunities of late.
"We're a better football team than we were back then," McCarthy said. "I think that's evident. We'll have a plan and we'll exercise that plan and stay the course, and hopefully play better in the key situations."
Milestones within reach
Green needs just 12 rushing yards to reach 1,000 on the season and become the first Packer in history to post six 1,000-yard seasons. He currently shares the team record of five with Jim Taylor.
Green has 244 carries for 988 yards this season, pushing his career total as a Packer to 8,091. That leaves him only 117 yards from breaking Taylor's franchise mark of 8,207. Green has five 100-yard games this season, his last coming on Dec. 3 against the N.Y. Jets, when he had 14 carries for 102 yards.
Last Thursday's game between the Packers and Vikings at Lambeau Field on NFL Network was the highest-rated cable show that evening and the second-highest rated cable telecast of the week behind ESPN's Monday Night Football game between Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
The game earned a 5.4 rating, the second-most watched NFL Network Thursday game telecast of the season, behind the Thanksgiving night match-up between Denver and Kansas City.
All seven NFL regular-season games thus far on NFL Network have ranked No. 1 on cable for that night. The final broadcast is Saturday night, with the Giants taking on the Redskins in a game with NFC playoff implications.
Over the past two days, the Packers have added defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (foot) and center Scott Wells (shoulder) to the injury report, but both are probable. Pickett missed practice on Thursday but returned on Friday. Wells sat out on Friday. But both are expected to play.
Receiver Donald Driver (probable, shoulder) missed all of this week's practices, but McCarthy said he fully anticipates him playing.
Tight end David Martin (ribs), linebacker Abdul Hodge (shoulder) and safety Atari Bigby (hamstring) remain questionable on the report, but all three practiced all week.