We'll start with the obvious: Beginning with WR Jordy Nelson in the preseason, the Packers -- especially on offense -- have suffered a lot of injuries. WR Davante Adams (ankle) hasn't played in a month, RB Eddie Lacy (ankle) missed some time and still seems hampered, S Morgan Burnett (calf) has played in just one game, DT B.J. Raji is currently hurt. Green Bay has six players on injured reserve and has had more games missed by injured players than any other team in the league this season. In 2010, they also were beset by injuries and then won the Super Bowl; still, that's not the ideal approach.
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They're undefeated, but . . .
At 6-0, the Packers are in first place in the NFC North and one of just five teams in the NFL without a loss. That's all well and good, but they haven't exactly been taking down titans. Green Bay hasn't yet played a team with a winning record – or even one that's currently .500 – and their opponents' combined winning percentage is .324 (12-25 record on the season). Starting when they get back, on the road against the 6-0 Denver Broncos, the schedule gets more difficult.
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Their division rivals have helped
The Packers have played just one game against an NFC North opponent, beating the Chicago Bears in Week 1, while their bumbling rivals beat up on each other. The division was supposed to be fairly competitive this season; the Lions were 11-5 and made the playoffs last year, the Vikings were considered an up-and-coming team that was getting Adrian Peterson back, and the Bears . . . well, the Bears still suck. And yet, the rest of the NFC North has a combined record of 6-11, with only the 3-2 Vikings within sniffing distance of the first-place Packers. But for a solid month, from Weeks 10-13, Green Bay will play four straight divisional opponents.
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They're running the ball effectively (sort of)
The Packers' vaunted offense has been rumbling along the ground rather than riding through the air so far this season. Partly because of injuries, QB Aaron Rodgers' passing game has been more efficient (15 touchdowns, two interceptions, 115.9 rating) than explosive (236.8 yards per game, 20th in the NFL). So Green Bay has committed to the run – seventh in rushing attempts, fourth in yards gained – through thick and thin. The thick has included James Starks' three-week midseason malaise (31 carries for 77 yards, 2.48 average from Weeks 3-5) and Eddie Lacy's horrid last two games (17 for 30, 1.76 average). But the thin times have seen Lacy produce three games with at least a 4.5-yard average, and Starks score a 65-yard touchdown during his 112-yard day against the Chargers.
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Rodgers can make receivers better, but only so much so
Without Nelson and Adams, the Packers have lacked a true deep threat. Veteran James Jones, signed just before the season, is tied for the league lead in catches of at least 25 yards, but he's not regarded as a downfield burner. Jones has been a revelation, but Randall Cobb – a Pro Bowler last year – has been encumbered by a sore shoulder and frequent double teams. Into the receiving void, fleetingly, had stepped rookie Ty Montgomery (four receptions for 59 yards and a 31-yard touchdown in Week 5), but he's been hurt, too. Unless Jared Abbrederis or Jeff Janis steps up (two combined catches), and until the Packers get healthier at the position, Rodgers will have to keep working with a limited offensive budget.
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The defense is improved and has an identity
Since 2011, the Packers have been impugned for allowing huge yardage and spoiling the offense's work. This year, the script's flipped. Green Bay's defense is leading the way with a voracious pass rush (23 sacks, second in the NFL) and an opportunistic secondary (eight interceptions, tied for third). Last time they were top-2 in those categories they won the Super Bowl. Julius Peppers (5.5 sacks) and Clay Matthews (4.5) are doing their thing, but three oft-maligned players that've finally been (mostly) healthy have made an impact -- Nick Perry, Mike Neal and Datone Jones missed two games and combined for 6.5 sacks. In the defensive backfield, Sam Shields (two interceptions, eight passes defensed) and rookies Damarious Randall (seven passes defensed) and Quinten Rollins (two interceptions, one touchdown) have made the Packers dangerous.