Notebook: Packers Look To Sustain Success

There’s no better time than now for the Packers’ first legitimate winning streak of 2008. Tied with Minnesota and Chicago at 5-5 for the NFC North Division lead, the Packers have as good a chance as either of their rivals to win the crown and make the playoffs if they can build on Sunday’s dominating performance and string some wins together. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 17


There's no better time than now for the Packers' first legitimate winning streak of 2008.

Tied with Minnesota and Chicago at 5-5 for the NFC North Division lead, the Packers have as good a chance as either of their rivals to win the crown and make the playoffs if they can build on Sunday's dominating performance and string some wins together.

Unlike last season when the team went 13-3 in the regular season and had winning streaks of four and six games, the Packers haven't had a winning streak longer than two games this season.

After opening the year 2-0, the first crack at a three-game string was thwarted by Dallas, when the Cowboys turned a 13-9 lead late in the third quarter into a 27-16 final. Then two straight wins over Seattle and Indianapolis was followed by a tough overtime defeat to unbeaten Tennessee after the bye.

In all probability, the first NFC North team to put together any kind of winning streak will win the division. Neither the Vikings nor Bears has won three straight this season either, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy feels his team has shown the potential to get on a roll.

"I'm not making excuses for the games we did not win, but I think our football team has played well," McCarthy said. "We just haven't played good enough in some particular critical situations. But I have never felt where any time I have walked off the field this year, not once, where, 'My goodness, we just did not play well.' We had an opportunity to win almost every game that we have been in this year."

That wasn't necessarily the case two years ago, McCarthy's first season, when the team was fighting for its playoff life in the final month. That year, the Packers lost four of its first 12 games by more than 20 points, while it happened just once last year, at Chicago.

This year, some of the losses certainly have been tougher to take, particularly the last two at Tennessee and Minnesota on late field-goal situations. But to bounce back from those and play a complete game against a division rival like the Packers did Sunday could bode well.

"I thought we played good football the past month," McCarthy said. "We weren't successful as far as in the win column, but I think we were able to go out and play strong in all three areas and put together the performance we had against Chicago, and that will be our goal each week from a level of execution. If we're able to play that way week in, week out, we like where we'll be at the end."

Familiar place

The Packers' trip to New Orleans will mark the first time McCarthy has returned to the Big Easy since his five-year stint as offensive coordinator there. McCarthy ran the Saints offense from 2000-2004 before going to San Francisco for one year prior to landing the head job in Green Bay.

The 49ers did not play in New Orleans in 2005, and the Packers have played the Saints just once since McCarthy's arrival. That was in Week 2 of 2006, in a game at Lambeau Field. Monday night's game will be at the Superdome.

"I have a lot of respect for the people down there," McCarthy said. "Even the fans, they have excellent fans. It will be an incredible atmosphere Monday night in the dome. A big part of our business is the personal relationships that you build throughout your travels, and I had a very positive experience in New Orleans and it will be neat to go back there for the first time."

{sportsad300}Rodgers stays strong

McCarthy said quarterback Aaron Rodgers came out of Sunday's game feeling the best he's felt the day after a game since injuring his throwing shoulder in Week 4. After taking eight sacks and numerous hits in the pocket the previous two games, Rodgers was not sacked or hit at all against the Bears, so he should be able to continue the full, or close to full, participation in practice he got back to last week.

"This is the best he's felt, so we'll do as much as we can," McCarthy said. "We'll push that as far as it can go."

Left tackle Chad Clifton (knees), who practiced fully last week on both Wednesday and Thursday for the first time all season, also would practice on back-to-back days again this week, but McCarthy hasn't determined which days yet. The team has four practices - Wednesday through Saturday - to prepare for the Monday night game, but Clifton would not be asked to practice three days consecutively.

Injury update

Linebacker Nick Barnett's ACL reconstruction surgery on his knee is scheduled for Thursday, McCarthy said. A rehab timetable will likely be established shortly after the surgery is performed.

Receiver Donald Driver banged his knee in Sunday's game and also reportedly has a minor toe injury he's been dealing with, so he will likely sit out practice on Wednesday to get an extra day to rest up.

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