The presence of Aaron Rodgers should make the Green Bay Packers a perennial contender in the NFC, but there's more to winning football games than boasting a talented roster. A team also needs luck, and in the NFL, which mostly comes down to injuries. The Packers are depleted at the moment due to injuries and probably wish their bye week didn't come so early in the season. The injuries haven't slowed Green Bay down too much, though. On Sunday, they will go for their 11th straight home victory against the Cleveland Browns.
The Packers won their second straight game against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6, but it came at a cost once again as receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb both exited the game early with injuries. Jones is questionable with a sprained knee, but Cobb was placed on the injury reserve with the designation to return after suffering a broken fibula.
The Browns' up-and-down season continues to twist and turn. After Trent Richardson was traded and the Browns announced third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer was going to start in Week 3, the team rattled off three straight wins. Hoyer's budding NFL season stopped cold when he went down with a knee injury in Week 5. With Brandon Weeden back under the helm, the Browns struggled in Week 6 and lost against the Lions, 31-17.
Meet the Packers
The Packers injured list plays out like an episode of The Walking Dead. The Packers are without Cobb, who leads the team in receptions, running back James Starks and starting linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. Fellow linebacker Brad Jones is getting better in practice and might make an appearance, while James Jones is likely to be a game-time decision.
That leaves Aaron Rodgers with Jarrett Boykin and Jordy Nelson as his two main outlets at wide receiver. Nelson stepped up to the cause against the Ravens, finishing with four receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Running back Eddie Lacy is back and ready to take a full load and has 23 carries in his past two contests. He finished against the Ravens with 120 yards, the first 100 yard rushing game of his career.
Meet the Browns
Weeden struggled against the Lions in Week 6. He finished with close to 300 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions in the process. The whole game culminated with an ill-advised shovel pass that was intercepted by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy to seal the loss for the Browns. Naturally, frustrated Cleveland fans took to the Internet to vent their frustrations in constructive ways.
Even with the injuries to the Packers offensive unit, the Browns defense will need a better showing if Cleveland is going to win. The Browns gave up 24 unanswered points in the second half against the Lions. Although they aren't as prolific as they were at the beginning of the season, the Packers are still one of the better offenses in the league. With the consistent efforts of Lacy in the past two games and Rodgers always a threat, the Browns will need to stay on their toes.
Local Takes: Packers
With all of the injuries mounting against the Packers, the folks at Acme Packing Company spend a bit of time catching the community up with each post.
Once again, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy had to spend much of his Wednesday press conference talking about a multitude of injuries. There is some good news from Wednesday's practice, but with a few other players missing practice besides the previously-known injuries, it's a net negative day on that front for the team.
Local Takes: Browns
Dawgs By Nature isn't so sure about Weeden carrying the team too far.
I was in the camp that believed Weeden might be able to do something with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron in the fold. All my belief has been tossed out the window after yesterday. I don't believe Jason Campbell is the answer, but I have to imagine that he's going to see his practice reps increase.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Acme Packing Company and Dawgs By Nature, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
I guess the omission of Manziel is planned "@DaveBorcas: Banner listed potential QB's in this order Bridgewater, Hundley, Marotta, Boyd"— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) October 17, 2013
@TyDunne - Packers beat reporter
This is what the #Packers, TT do. Rather than sign a veteran, they'd rather promote from within and restructure the offense internally.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) October 15, 2013
@RuiterWrongFAN - Browns beat reporter
The Browns haven't won at Lambeau Field since 2005. Granted, the two teams have only played once since then, but the SB Nation panel has Green Bay across the board.
The Packers opened up as 11-point favorites and it hasn't changed much as the week has gone on, according to Oddsshark.com.