Dec 8, 2011
THE STORY: Aaron Rodgers proved last week just how difficult it will be to hand the Green Bay Packers their first loss. And with three of Green Bay's final four games at Lambeau Field, the 1972 Miami Dolphins' champagne may be on ice for a while. Rodgers and the NFC North champion Packers look to secure a first-round bye Sunday when they continue their pursuit of perfection against the visiting Oakland Raiders. The signature moment of Rodgers' other-worldly season came last week when he led the Packers to a last-second, 38-35 road win over the New York Giants - their 18th straight victory. The Raiders, who haven't reached the postseason since 2002, had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 34-14 loss to Miami. The loss dropped Oakland into a tie with Denver atop the AFC West.
TV: CBS, 4:15 p.m. ET. LINE: Packers -11, O/U 52.5
ABOUT THE RAIDERS (7-5): The Raiders trailed 13-0 before they recorded a first down last week. As a result, Oakland's fourth-ranked rushing attack (140.6 ypg) was a non-factor (14 carries, 46 yards). In fact, the Raiders running game also struggled the previous week (73 yards vs. Chicago). Prior to that, Michael Bush averaged nearly 121 yards in three contests while filling in for Darren McFadden (foot), who's expected to miss a sixth straight game. McFadden isn't the only one hurting. Carson Palmer's receiving corps has been decimated by injuries. Chaz Schilens (six catches, 89 yards vs. Miami) had been one of the only healthy receivers, but even he's dealing with a foot injury. Oakland is 27th in in the league in scoring defense (25.7 ppg), but it has the ability to pressure Rodgers (33 sacks, seventh in the league).
ABOUT THE PACKERS (12-0): Green Bay joined the 1998 Denver Broncos as the only defending Super Bowl champions to start 12-0 by surviving its closest call to date. That's because Rodgers' brilliance continues to mask the Packers' defensive deficiencies (31st, 397.8 ypg). After the Giants tied it with 58 seconds left, Rodgers needed just five plays to set Mason Crosby up for a 31-yard game-winning field goal. Rodgers was 28 of 46 for 369 yards and four touchdowns and has now thrown at least two scores in 12 straight games, one shy of tying the NFL record shared by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Green Bay leads the league with 23 interceptions and should have former Raider Charles Woodson available. Woodson (concussion) practiced Wednesday and is expected to face the team with which he spent the first eight years of his career.
1. The Packers' winning streak is tied for the second longest in NFL history. The 2003-04 New England Patriots hold the record with 21 straight wins.
2. Raiders CB Chris Johnson left the team Wednesday to be with his family after his sister was shot and killed during a domestic dispute. He is expected to play on Sunday.
3. Green Bay will clinch a first-round bye with a win or a New Orleans loss.
PREDICTION: Packers 34, Raiders 27. Oakland may come out inspired after getting embarrassed, much like the Giants did, but Rodgers will shrug them off too.
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