Though the Green Bay Packers were on a roll with 4 straight wins, they desperately needed their bye this week.
Three more starters – Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson and Bryan Bulaga – were hurt in Sunday’s 31-17 victory over Arizona and Bulaga’s hip injury appears heavy enough to keep him out for an extended period of time. Matthews doesn’t feel his hamstring is as bad as it’s been during the past, coach Mike McCarthy said, but it still could sideline him for “a couple weeks.”
Matthews leads the Packers with 9 sacks, which ties him with the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware and Broncos’ Von Miller for 2nd in the league behind the Texans’ J.J. Watt (10).
“Clay’s a difference maker,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers asserted Monday, in the opinion of the newspaper. “Hopefully, we’ll get good news, and with luck he’ll be back sooner than what we think.”
The Green Bay Packers’ injured list was already cramped, with top receiver Greg Jennings, perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Charles Woodson and workhorse RB Cedric Benson among the headliners.
“We need the physical rest, get our bodies back,” Ryan Pickett expounded. “We’ve got 2 weeks to get them right, get them nearer to playing. And guys that have been hurt before that, we’ve got an opportunity to get them back. So this bye is at the perfect time, the best time for us.
“We’ve got lots of fighters – guys going down, guys stepping up; it shows plenty of character. (But) we can’t bear to wait to get all of our players back,” Pickett added. “It’s huge that we won these 4 games, but Chicago is out there a pretty good ways. We have to keep winning. I don’t see them losing anytime soon. We just have to carry on building off each win that we have, kept getting better.”
Five of Green Bay’s last 7 games will be against NFC North opponents, a stretch that might prove every bit as tough for the banged-up Packers as the difficulties they faced in the 1st half. In that stretch is a Dec. Sixteen trip to division-leading Bears (7-1), and they have still have to play Minnesota Vikings (5-4) and Detroit (4-4) twice each. Betting lines
“To do what we would like to do, you have to win your division games,” Capers expounded. “When you have 5 of 7, we’re going to get a heavy dose of men who know a lot about us and we know a lot about them. That’s always a challenge. You’ve got to put extra effort in the preparation. There’s often a bit more power that comes with division games. It’ll start right as fast as we get back.”
The players are doing their part by resting, both mentally and physically. McCarthy gave the Packers the entire week off, saying he wanted to make sure they were fresh for the last grind of the regular season, and he got no argument from his players.
“We’re going to rest and recover this next week,” Randall Cobb expounded, “and then it’s back to work.”