The Packers will now turn their attention to another division foe with a matchup against the Chicago Bears in Week 9. The Bears are coming off a bye week, but major injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and outside linebacker Lance Briggs make the Packers early favorites to walk away with another win.
Here's a look at everything you need to know about the Packers heading into Week 9.
|Green Bay Packers||5-2||vs. Chicago Bears|
|Detroit Lions||5-3||Bye Week|
|Chicago Bears||4-3||@ Green Bay Packers|
|Minnesota Vikings||1-6||@ Dallas Cowboys|
With a win over the Vikings, the Packers remain atop the NFC North for another week. The Detroit Lions also got a much-needed win over the Dallas Cowboys to remain within striking distance of the Packers.
The biggest matchup next week is obviously the game between Green Bay and Chicago. A win by the Packers will push them a full game over the Lions and two games ahead of the Bears. However, a loss by the Packers will make the NFC North extremely interesting for the second half of the season.
As for the Vikings, they'll likely lose to the Dallas Cowboys this week to move to 1-7 on the season. With that loss, they'll likely need to forget any chance of a postseason berth.
Week 9 could turn out to be a rather vital week for the NFC North.
For the first time all season, the Packers didn't suffer any major injuries this week. In fact, this game proved to be a sort of return-from-injury game for Green Bay.
Cornerback Casey Hayward played his first snaps of the season. He actually played more snaps than either of his backups this game, according to Bryan Hall of Pro Football Focus:
Casey Hayward with 23 snaps, Micah Hyde 19 and Davon House 11— Bryan Hall (@PFF_BryanHall) October 28, 2013
The Packers also got running back James Starks back from his knee injury. He finished Sunday's game with seven carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Another injury to monitor is that of outside linebacker Nick Perry. He surprisingly returned to practice last week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN:
Big surprise at #Packers practice: OLB Nick Perry (foot) returned less than 2 weeks after his injury.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) October 25, 2013
There is also more good news, as wide receiver James Jones is likely to play next week. His return will give the Packers another weapon on an offense that has really started to jell these past few weeks.
While there are still plenty of major injuries Green Bay has to deal with, there are definitely signs of improvement. Within the next few weeks, this team could be rather healthy, which should be scary to the rest of the NFL.
What Must Improve
There are really two areas in which the Packers need to improve heading into Week 9.
For starters, their special teams coverage needs to get much better. Sunday was the second straight game in which Green Bay allowed huge returns. This time, it was rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson who took the opening kickoff 109 yards for six points.
It's this type of play on special teams that can come back to haunt the Packers. Sure, they were able to counter Sunday night with a long scoring drive of their own, but had they gone three-and-out, they could have possibly given Minnesota a huge amount of momentum to work with.
Will the Packers beat the Bears?
The Packers also need to improve in closing out games. We've seen this for a long time with head coach Mike McCarthy, who always seems to let teams back into games after getting up big. It almost seems like McCarthy lacks the killer instinct to simply put teams away.
This happened against the Vikings when the Packers gave up 14 points in the final five minutes of the game. Against a more potent offense, the Packers could have potentially been in trouble.
With the Green Bay offense looking incredibly potent and the defense improving on a weekly basis, these are really the only areas in which the team can improve. If the Packers can get their special teams coverage figured out and revive their killer instinct, they should have no difficulty winning the remainder of their games rather easily.