Each week, Press-Gazette Media will look at national stories involving the Green Bay Packers as well as stories about their opponents this season:
Packers: Green Bay’s shorthanded receiving corps isn’t getting open, but it’s a problem that can be fixed, writes Andy Benoit for SI.com’s MMQB. “Green Bay’s problem is defeating man coverage,” Benoit writes. “The answer for how to fix this is the same as for all the other teams enduring poor receiver play: more ‘man-beater’ play designs. If guys aren’t getting open physically, help them get open tactically.”
Packers: With their lack of skill players, the Packers (6-1) are relying more on Aaron Rodgers to buy time with his legs to help receivers get open, writes Mike Sando of ESPN.com. That comes with some risk: “No team is likely to limit Rodgers to the degree Denver did Sunday night,” Sando writes, “but as more of the burden falls onto the Packers’ resourceful quarterback, the greater the likelihood for injury figures to become.”
Packers: Green Bay’s odds of winning the Super Bowl took a hit with Sunday’s loss, according to projections by FiveThirtyEight.com. The Packers’ odds slipped to 13 percent, putting them third behind New England (26 percent) and Denver (17 percent) but still ahead of unbeaten Cincinnati (12 percent) and Carolina (11 percent).
Panthers: Carolina (7-0) realizes that Sunday’s game against Green Bay has implications that could extend into January, writes Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. “I think they understand and they know what’s at stake,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll be aware of it, but we’ll focus on what it means now and hopefully be able to stay in the now.”
Panthers: Defensive end Jared Allen vividly remembers a 2011 sack of Aaron Rodgers that later was ruled a “team sack” because Rodgers fumbled during the play, because it ended up costing Allen the NFL single-season sack record, writes the Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan Jones. Allen, then playing for the Vikings, finished the season with 22 sacks, one shy of breaking Michael Strahan’s record of 22 ½. “It’s just fun,” Allen said of competing against Rodgers. “When you get a chance to get a quarterback at that level, you remember them all.”
Lions: Martha Firestone Ford took a big first step Wednesday by firing team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew, but more important for the Lions (1-7) is what the 90-year-old owner does next, writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press. “The problem with Ford ownership,” Sharp writes, “never has been when it finally has had enough of coaches and executives. It’s their inability to identify the right replacements.”
Vikings: Sunday’s game against the Rams in Minnesota (5-2) shapes up as a showdown between the next Adrian Peterson and the original, writes Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The “next” Peterson would be Rams rookie Todd Gurley, who is drawing comparisons with the veteran Vikings star after rushing for 100-plus yards in four consecutive games (including one Oct. 11 against the Packers).
Bears: Coach John Fox faces the challenge of keeping his 2-5 team motivated during a daunting November stretch after heart-wrenching losses to the Lions and Vikings, according to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune. “The Bears have reached a critical juncture,” Wiederer writes, “a ledge where their belief and investment will be tested, a point where John Fox’s leadership ability will be needed more than ever.”
Cowboys: Did Dallas (2-5) err by letting free agent DeMarco Murray depart to join the Eagles and trusting that Joseph Randle could fill the void? The results are in, writes David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, and they don’t look good after Randle’s release this week. But Cowboys officials aren’t expressing regret publicly, with Executive Vice President Stephen Jones saying, “That ship has sailed. We don’t look back at the past. We’d make that same decision again.”
Cardinals: Coach Bruce Arians doesn’t hesitate to call out his players publicly, notes Kent Somer of the Arizona Republic, which is unusual in the NFL. And the Cardinals (6-2) accept it because Arians is consistent. “After a win, it’s the same as after a loss,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “You’ve got to be ready to be chewed out after a win or a loss. He wants to put that pressure on you, that kind of tough-minded, never-good-enough mentality because he knows that’s what it takes to win.”