Why this game is intriguing: This one might not be pretty. The Green Bay Packersmight be getting Jordy Nelson back -- making an explosive offense ... even more explosive -- while the Arizona Cardinals clearly have lost their early-season mojo. Four straight losses for the Cards has them soul-searching. So, if everything continues in the direction it's going, this game might be over before it starts (especially considering it's in Lambeau). But I moved it up a few notches for its upset potential. This physical Arizona team can get after quarterback Aaron Rodgers, cover with authority and throw the Packers off their game. Essentially, the Cardinals can do what they did to the New England Patriots in Week 2. There's a chance this might not be easy for Green Bay -- but a slim one.
There are few ways to prepare for the multitude of injuries the Green Bay Packers have incured, but coach Mike McCarthy is doing his best to help his team move on in spite of them.
Facing a depleted squad may be exactly what the Arizona Cardinals need to end their skid.
Short-handed Green Bay seeks a fourth straight win while Arizona looks to avoid a five-game losing streak Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The Packers already were dealing with long-term injuries to receiver Greg Jennings (torn abdominal muscle), running back Cedric Benson (sprained foot) and defensive back Charles Woodson (broken collarbone) when receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring) was ruled out of last week's 24-15 victory over lowly Jacksonville.
During that contest, defensive ends Jerel Worthy (concussion) and Mike Neal (knee) also suffered injuries, and minor nicks to others leaves Green Bay (5-3) wondering who will be in uniform Sunday.
Nelson won't practice until at least Friday, while Worthy and Neal are questionable. McCarthy, though, said no one is going to feel sorry for his team.
"The injuries are part of the game. It's unfortunate on a personal level," McCarthy said. "There's things that go on in our world in the game of football that are just unsaid. It's just the way you go about your business. It's what you accept and it's part of the grind of an NFL season."
Green Bay will have a chance to recuperate during its bye week following this game, but facing an Arizona team determined to end its skid comes first.
"The players clearly know the importance of this game," McCarthy said. "We may have made the mistake of looking forward to the bye week in the past, and that's losing your focus. We're focused on the Cardinals."
Arizona's 4-0 start now seems a distant memory, suffering its fourth straight defeat after being routed 24-3 by San Francisco on Monday night. The Cardinals' seven rushing yards were their fewest since totaling minus-1 on Oct. 18, 1953.
"My biggest sense is that I feel like I've let our fans down," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We've let our fans down as a team, and that hurts."
John Skelton set career highs with 32 completions and 52 attempts while tossing an interception Monday, and he will start a third straight game Sunday.
Whisenhunt said he doesn't plan to make any major changes despite the team's struggles.
"We'll get on these guys more, and I think one of the things is we'll have the players get on the players," Whisenhunt said. "Peer pressure plays a part in that. You've got to get on your leaders to do that, but let's not get into a panic here and start changing things up. We're going to continue to do what we do, and we're going to do it better."
The Packers likely are hoping for a better performance as well after totaling a season-low 238 yards in a lackluster victory over one of the NFL's worst teams.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 11 TDs and no interceptions during the three-game winning streak.
"It's good to be on this side of an ugly win," Rodgers said. "The expectations were we were going to come out and maybe blow them out, but we didn't start fast. We didn't have enough juice early on and didn't play well enough on offense to get that done."
Arizona's offense is quite familiar with that sentiment, ranking 31st in the NFL averaging 289.9 yards. The Cardinals possess the league's sixth-ranked defense, though, giving up 312.8 yards per game and likely will need a more complete effort to snap out of their funk.
"Times are bad right now," center Lyle Sendlein said. "The only way to get out of that is to win games. You do that by going to work Monday through Saturday. We just have to start punching people in the mouth."
Neither team's offense had much trouble the last time they met, as Arizona beat Green Bay 51-45 in overtime Jan. 10, 2010, in the highest-scoring playoff game in NFL history.
Rodgers threw for 423 yards in that contest, exactly one week after completing 21 of 26 passes for 235 yards and a score in a 33-7 win over the Cardinals in his only other start against them.