The Green Bay Packers have some work to do.
The team returns to practice Wednesday looking to wash away the bad taste of back-to-back losses to Denver and Carolina. The performances left major questions about their offense and defense, and dropped them into a tie for first place in the NFC North with Minnesota at 6-2.
If the challenge of facing undefeated teams in consecutive weeks wasn't enough, the Packers now must overcome four division opponents in 19 days. It will mark the first time Green Bay has had a stretch of four consecutive regular-season division games since 2000.
“It’ll probably determine our season in some respects,” defensive tackle B.J. Raji said of the upcoming stretch. “This is definitely a big 20 days or whatever it is. We have a lot of work to do and a short time to do it.”
That stretch includes two meetings with the Detroit Lions, the first of which takes place Sunday at Lambeau Field. Once again, the primary storyline likely will revolve around the Packers’ 24-game winning streak over the Lions in Wisconsin.
Nearly two dozen Packers weren’t alive the last time Detroit beat Green Bay on Wisconsin soil – a 21-17 win at Lambeau Field on Dec. 15, 1991. More importantly, the game offers a chance for Green Bay to pull itself together against a 1-7 Lions’ team that recently fired its team president and general manager.
The Lions, who also let go of Joe Lombardi as their offensive coordinator last month, are coming off an uninspired 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in London two weeks ago.
On the other hand, the Packers must rally themselves after giving up nearly 1,500 yards in their last three games while struggling to establish an offensive rhythm. The good news for Green Bay is it possesses the second-best winning percentage against division opponents (41-13-1, .755) since 2006.
Statistically, it’s not pretty. The Packers are 24th in NFL total offense and 23rd on defense. What’s saving them is a plus-6 turnover ratio and a pair of top-tier scoring offenses and defenses, particularly at home.
With a trip to Minnesota on deck, the Packers understand the key to reversing their fortunes begins with taking care of business against the Lions. There’s little the Packers can do about sitting practically three games behind the Panthers for the NFC lead.
There’s no doubt the disappointing showings against the Broncos and Panthers will stay with the Packers for the foreseeable future. However, the team also knows the best way to move on is to wrap up its seventh win of the season Sunday. Packers players were offering one common theme in Monday’s locker room: On to Detroit.
“To be honest with you, our focus right now is on Detroit,” outside linebacker Julius Peppers said. “I’m not really interested in talking about Cam Newton.”
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