- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Power Rankings: Preseason: 12. This week: 17
Where they stand: The Packers are 4-4 and tied with Chicago for second place in the NFC North. A pair of losses to Minnesota has all but scuttled the Packers’ chances for the division title, but there are greater concerns about this team. Three of its four victories have come against opponents who are currently 1-7: St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit. Green Bay has given up an NFL-high 37 sacks and have faced the ignominy of watching former quarterback Brett Favre lead Minnesota to a 7-1 start.
Disappointments: The Packers have failed to establish the consistency they hoped to achieve on the offensive line. Instead, the line is in as much disarray as ever. The only Week 1 starter who seems on solid ground is right guard Josh Sitton. Otherwise, both tackle positions are in flux and left guard Daryn Colledge has regressed. First-round draft pick B.J. Raji missed the beginning of training camp in a contract holdout, promptly sprained his ankle and has made minimal impact on the defensive line. No one should be surprised, but veteran Aaron Kampman hasn’t made an impact at linebacker in the Packers’ new 3-4 scheme and has been spending more time as a traditional defensive end.
Surprises: Linebacker Brandon Chillar emerged from training camp as one of the Packers’ top linebackers and has fit well into the scheme. But as per Green Bay’s luck, Chillar fractured his hand two weeks ago and is sidelined. Most observers thought A.J. Hawk would be a natural fit for the 3-4 defense. He wasn’t quite fast enough as an outside linebacker in the 4-3 and perhaps not big enough to be a middle linebacker in that alignment. But Hawk hasn’t made much impact as a 3-4 inside linebacker, either, and has seen his playing time diminish significantly.
Outlook: Based on the strength (or weakness) of the Packers’ victories this season, it’s hard to paint a rosy picture for the second half of the season. It’s also difficult to conceive of a quick fix to their season-long problems on the offensive line. Barring sudden cohesion there, the second half of the Packers’ season could devolve into a referendum on the futures of general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy. Both have long-term contracts in place, but these days angst is high in Green Bay.