Starter Pack: Season-defining stretch

A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

In many ways, the Packers may be about to embark on a stretch of games that will define their season.

On the same day they assumed the lead in the NFC North with a 31-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field, the Packers (4-2) also saw their injury situation become even more critical after the scary-looking neck injury that forced tight end Jermichael Finley to be wheeled off the field on a stretcher.

He became the third Packers’ offensive playmaker to go down in the past two games after receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones were injured the previous week. Cobb won’t be back until mid-December because of a fractured fibula, and Jones couldn’t get back from his knee injury in time to play the Browns.

And Finley’s status remains up in the air.

It’s one thing to have injuries. But the NFL is about playmakers, and the Packers keep losing them.

“When you’ve got three of our best offensive players now that are injured, it’s tough,” Packers right guard T.J. Lang said. “But you can’t really spend too much time thinking about it or sulking about it. You’ve got other guys in this locker room that have to step up and be productive when their number is called.

Even without the injuries, the next six weeks were going to play a major role in determining the course of their season. Beginning with Sunday night’s game at Minnesota, four of the next six games are against NFC North teams. It begins with back-to-back prime-time games against the Vikings and the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football."

“We’ve got two really big division games coming up,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Sunday’s game. “We’ve kind of got to regroup tomorrow and set a good plan and travel over to Minnesota.”