Green Bay Packers: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 12

Matt SteinCorrespondent IINovember 19, 2013

The Green Bay Packers are at a make-or-break point heading into Week 12.
The Green Bay Packers are at a make-or-break point heading into Week 12.Elsa/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers extended their losing streak to three games with a 27-13 loss at the hands of the rising New York Giants on Sunday. With a .500 record heading into Week 12, it wouldn't be a stretch at all to call this a make-or-break game for Green Bay.

The matchup against the Minnesota Vikings this week is a familiar one. The Packers will also get to play Minnesota at Lambeau Field, which will give them another advantage.

There's plenty else you need to know heading into Week 12, so let's take a look.


Division Standings

NFC North Division Standings
TeamRecordNext Game
Detroit Lions6-4vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago Bears6-4@ St. Louis Rams
Green Bay Packers5-5vs. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings2-8@ Green Bay Packers

The Packers could have been in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC North had they won in Week 11. With the Detroit Lions losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears beating the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay remains one game back of both Chicago and Detroit.

The good news for the Packers is that they have an extremely winnable game this week, while both the Bears and Lions have difficult matchups. Chicago plays the St. Louis Rams and their extremely dominant pass rush. Detroit's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks easy on the surface, but Tampa Bay played extremely well the past two weeks.

As long as the Packers win this week, it won't really matter what the other teams in the NFC North do. At worst, the Packers will still only be one game out of the lead. However, a loss this week could potentially push them two games back and would make a playoff run extremely difficult.


Injury Report

Green Bay Packers Injury Report
Don BarclayOLKnee
Casey HaywardCBHamstring
Johnny JollyDLGroin
Nick PerryLBFoot
Aaron RodgersQBCollarbone
Sam ShieldsCBHamstring

For the first time in a long time, the Packers didn't have a ridiculous amount of injuries to report after a game. In fact, only one player was injured during Sunday's game, defensive end Johnny Jolly. Considering Jolly had been battling a groin injury throughout the week, the fact that he left the game early really wasn't surprising.

The biggest injury remains the one to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but the injury that kept cornerback Sam Shields out of last week's game is another big one to monitor. The secondary had huge struggles against the Giants without Shields in the lineup.

Other than those two injuries, the Packers are in relatively good shape for this week's matchup.


What Must Improve

It's not so much what must improve but who must improve for the Packers this week. And that who is none other than quarterback Scott Tolzien.

There's certainly a lot to like about Tolzien, but he needs to play better, specifically in taking care of the football, if the Packers want to win games with him as the starter. He threw three interceptions against the Giants, two of which came at extremely crucial times in the game.

Tolzien had this to say after the game, via Tyler Dunne of

You have to love his recognition that he's the problem, but his words simply don't outweigh what he's done on the field so far. In two games, Tolzien has five interceptions and only one touchdown pass.

Look, we all know Tolzien is no Rodgers, but he has the same weapons Rodgers has. One touchdown pass in two games is simply unacceptable when you're throwing to wide receivers like Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jarrett Boykin.

If the Packers want to beat the Vikings, Tolzien is going to need to greatly improve his game.