Why this game is intriguing: There's no doubt the Green Bay Packers will roll in this matchup. Aaron Rodgers has returned to MVP form, Jordy Nelson continues to establish himself as one of the league's most dangerous weapons, and the Pack are on their way. And then there's the Jacksonville Jaguars. Maurice Jones-Drew is due to miss significant time with injury, while quarterback Blaine Gabbert must deal with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Things will only get worse for this downtrodden franchise, beginning Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers are optimistic they have enough depth in the secondary to compensate for the loss of Charles Woodson, and they have few worries on the other side of the ball with a red-hot Aaron Rodgers guiding their passing attack.
The offensively challenged Jacksonville Jaguars have much bigger problems.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert hopes to play, but Maurice Jones-Drew definitely won't Sunday as Jacksonville visits Lambeau Field, where the also banged-up Packers have won 15 of their last 16 regular-season games.
The 36-year-old Woodson broke his left clavicle in last week's 30-20 victory over St. Louis -- the same injury he suffered in Green Bay's Super Bowl XLV win over Pittsburgh -- and the former NFL defensive player of the year is expected to miss at least six weeks.
"Obviously, Charles is a leader. He's been a very productive guy on the field and that's the way you develop into a leader. I think there's an awful lot of respect for him," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "Now, we've got to have some other guys step up and produce."
Green Bay believes it has solid contributors to replace Woodson for the time being. Capers said Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings will see increased playing time.
"That's one of the reasons our first six draft picks (this year) were on defense. You have to have someone to turn to," Capers said. "One thing about youth is they have a lot of energy. There are a few bumps in the road because they haven't seen the things Charles Woodson has seen, but they improve as you go along."
It doesn't appear the Packers (4-3) will have much trouble stopping the Jaguars' offense no matter who is on the field. Jacksonville (1-5) is averaging an NFL-worst 235.8 yards per game and blew a 14-point second-half lead in last week's 26-23 overtime loss at Oakland.
It didn't help that Jones-Drew sprained his left foot on the first play of the game and Gabbert reportedly suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in the first half.
Jones-Drew will be out Sunday and possibly longer, and Rashad Jennings will start in his place. Jennings rushed 21 times for 44 yards and a touchdown versus the Raiders.
Gabbert was suited up for practice Wednesday, and the QB said he expects to face Green Bay. If Gabbert can't go, Chad Henne would start after going 9 for 20 for 71 yards while being sacked three times in relief last week.
"We were very inept in a lot of the things we did. A lot of frustrating things offensively," coach Mike Mularkey said. "We've got to protect (the quarterback) obviously better. He had some chances finally to throw the ball down the field and (Henne) got real clean runners right at him where he had no chance.
"It's hard to give a guy a grade when the protection is not up to the standards that we need to win."
It seems like a stretch to think the Jaguars will have any better luck protecting whomever is under center Sunday. The Packers lead the NFL with 24 sacks.
Green Bay's passing attack, meanwhile, is in good hands with Rodgers, who has completed 71.4 percent of his passes while throwing 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions over his last four games. He finished 30 of 37 for 342 yards and three TDs -- two to Randall Cobb-- in last week's win.
Rodgers may need to count on Cobb more than ever this week. In addition to Greg Jennings being out for the foreseeable future due to surgery on his injured groin, leading receiver Jordy Nelson's status is up in the air after he pulled a hamstring in practice Wednesday.
If Nelson can't go, Cobb and James Jones would start with Donald Driver and rookie Jarrett Boykin behind them.
The Packers certainly can't count on their ground game, which was already shaky beforeCedric Benson's injury, to carry them. Alex Green ran 20 times for only 35 yards last week and is averaging 2.4 yards per carry in his two starts.
Jacksonville, though, ranks 29th against the run. It's allowing 147.3 yards per game -- 29th in the league -- despite holding Oakland to 69 last week.
The Jaguars have lost 11 of their last 13 road games, which doesn't bode well for facing a Packers team that has lost only one regular-season home game in two years -- a 30-22 defeat to San Francisco in Week 1.
Jacksonville won 28-25 on Dec. 19, 2004, in the only meeting in Green Bay. The teams have split four all-time matchups.