Each Tuesday, Press-Gazette Media will turn to the week ahead with three storylines for the Green Bay Packers’ next game. This week, the opponent is the Oakland Raiders. Here’s a glimpse of what to watch for when the Packers travel to Oakland for a 3:05 p.m. kickoff Sunday.
1. Charles Woodson vs. Aaron Rodgers: It turned out Charles Woodson still had plenty of good football left. The former Packers defensive back — a lock to be in the team’s hall of fame — was released in 2012 after multiple injuries. It could have been the end for a 36-year-old who had done everything in his career, including winning a 2009 defensive player of the year award and a 2010 Super Bowl ring.
Instead, Woodson returned to the team that drafted him, and he hasn’t missed a start with the Raiders in almost three full years. Now, Woodson gets to face his former team, and more specifically quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
While the two fiery competitors had a close friendship in Green Bay, you know Woodson would like nothing more than to intercept his former quarterback.
2. Play calling: Maybe it’s coincidence the Packers' offense had its best game in months with Mike McCarthy, one of the NFL’s best play callers over the past decade, reassuming play-calling responsibilities. But probably not.
The Packers finally had offensive rhythm and balance against the Cowboys. There was more patience, running the football 44 times with 35 passes, a run-first ratio that probably should remain the rest of the season. And, of course, they had more points than the 13 and 16 they had in two previous home games against the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.
Maybe McCarthy’s decision to return to his old role will be the lifeboat that carries the Packers to a Super Bowl. It was probably their last shot.
3. Not the same old Raiders: For most of the past decade, the Raiders have been an emblem for inept football. Few teams have been worse.
The Raiders have drafted in the top five four times since 2007, including each of the past two years. Finally, they’ve started to show signs of life.
The Raiders won 15-12 at Denver last week, and if that doesn’t seem overly impressive, consider what happened when the Packers visited the Broncos at the start of November. Never have they been as dominated this season as their 29-10 loss at the Broncos.
The Packers have every reason to believe they will win Sunday, but beating the Raiders on the road will be substantially more difficult than winning against the Cowboys at home.