It took seven games in the 2012 NFL season, but the Green Bay Packers finally sport a winning record.
Most NFL observers expected Green Bay to have a better record than 4-3 at this point of the season. Many expected the Packers to be atop the North Division standings, but that honor has been earned by the 5-1 Chicago Bears.
The surprising Minnesota Vikings stand at 5-3 after their perplexing home loss to Tampa Bay Thursday night. The Detroit Lions, expected to contend for the division crown, are a disappointing 2-4.
Green Bay can tie the Vikings for second place with a win Sunday over the ailing Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field.
While the Packers are heavy favorites, all is far from well in Titletown.
Green Bay has faced various forms of adversity in its first seven games, from a crazy opening month schedule and the referee debacle in Seattle to national media scrutiny and an avalanche of injuries.
It certainly can't be said that the first half of the NFL season has been dull.
The last form of adversity—injuries—is having the biggest impact on the Packers in their quest for a return to the Super Bowl.
From Desmond Bishop and Charles Woodson on defense to Greg Jennings and Cedric Benson on defense, the depth of this year's team and the ability of Mike McCarthy's staff to quickly prepare youthful replacements have been severely tested. The good news has been the return to form of Aaron Rodgers and the offense since a breakout victory at Houston during a brutal three-game road trip in October.
Despite the loss of key performers, Green Bay's offense has been steadily improving since its signature victory at Houston three weeks ago. Aaron Rodgers is back playing at a league MVP level, and the Packers lead the NFL in red-zone efficiency with 16 touchdowns in 21 forays in the opponents' red zone.
The defense will play against Jacksonville with Woodson, a play-making safety who leadership and on-field coaching are virtually irreplaceable.
How the Packers respond to the latest wave of injuries on Sunday remains to be seen. Green Bay definitely catches a break facing the toothless Jaguars instead of a division foe this week and the inconsistent Arizona Cardinals the following week. Then comes the best news of all: a much needed bye week.
Week 8 NFL Picks
Last Week's Record: 13-0
Despite injuries, the offense keeps the momentum going in a blow-out over out-manned Jacksonville.
Rodgers and offense scores early and often.
Packers 38, Jaguars 10