No More Pressure in Green Bay

Jason PotvinContributor INovember 6, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 01:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers calls out a play against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the game at Lambeau Field on November 1, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

As Brett Favre walks out of Lambeau with two wins against his former team, the media shifts away from Green Bay for the first time this season.

There are no more reports of rivalries, betrayal, or revenge. The hype has left Wisconsin to continue following the Vikings.

With Minnesota looking ahead, with their 7-1 record (3-0 in the division), the Packers are left picking up their collective thoughts on where to go now. What's on their minds?

There are no more thoughts of beating Favre. There is only one goal from here on out.

Making the playoffs.

Playoffs? Yes, that's right. The focus has shifted from the Favre-palooza to what has always been the main concern for playing the regular season.

Standing with a 4-3 record, chances for a division title look bleak. There is now a stronger emphasis going forward on winning each game one week at a time rather than looking ahead to chase a divisional opponent with a 3 and a half game lead.

It also happens this week—as the media turns its eyes away from the Packers—that some of Rodgers' supporting cast members return to the lineup.

Chad Clifton, who has been suffering a high ankle sprain, took all of the left tackle reps during Wednesday’s practice and looks to return to protect Aaron's blindside. TJ Lang had performed well in protection versus Cleveland and Detroit, but gave up two sacks to Jared Allen last Sunday.

After nine months from reconstructive knee surgery, Mark Tauscher is expected to reclaim his starting position from incumbent Allen Barbre at right tackle. Barbre has been strong as a run blocker but has struggled in pass protection, where he allowed six pressures Sunday.

Scott Wells looks to keep his starting job at center with Jason Spitz still recovering from back spasms. The spasms do not appear to be getting better.

With two former veteran starters returning to the line, Rodgers' protection should be greatly improved. Rodgers' leads the league with his 31 sacks but should take less of a beating from here on out so long as the veterans remain healthy. Rodgers' passer rating of a 110.4 is the highest in the league and with the added protection along the offensive line, should translate to more wins and less bruises.

With a team that is no longer in the spotlight and is improving its greatest problem throughout the first seven games, the Packers look to go under the radar and quietly climb back into contention in order to make the playoffs.