For the first time since NFL Week 4, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings were prepared to start together, give the Minnesota Vikings matchup headaches and make a run to the playoffs. As ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reports, Nelson didn’t make it through the first quarter.
The Green Bay Packers are undoubtedly disappointed with this development, but they have been able to get along well without their No. 1 receiver, Jennings, for the majority of the season. Green Bay is 8-4 despite missing Jennings for seven full games—including two wins without Jennings or Nelson. Those two wins were a function of the competition (the Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals), the venue (both wins were at home) and the deepest wide receiver corps in the NFL.
That’s why Green Bay doesn’t have to rush Nelson back this week: Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jennings can take care of matters while Nelson gets right.
In Week 11, the Packers beat the Detroit Lions on the road without Jennings. In Week 14, those same Lions will visit Lambeau Field, where they’ve been handled every time Jennings suited up against them in his career.
It would be advantageous for Green Bay to have Nelson in the lineup while it attempts to sweep the Chicago Bears this season (Week 15). The Seattle Seahawks may have finally repaid their debt to Green Bay from Week 3 by knocking off the Bears at Soldier Field, placing the Pack in first place in the NFC North.
A home date with the Tennessee Titans (Week 16) and a rematch with the Vikings in Minnesota (Week 17) should set the Packers up to compile at least a 3-1 record over the fourth quarter of the season.
If that happens, Green Bay would finish 2012 at 11-5: a record that would be good enough to secure a wild-card spot should Chicago win out. The Bears play each of their division rivals in the season’s final month, along with a Week 16 matchup with the Cardinals that could get downright ugly.
If the Packers can beat the Bears in Chicago, the division is all but theirs.
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