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Though the Green Bay Packers (6-3) were on a roll with four straight wins, they desperately needed their bye this week.
Three more starters -- Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson and Bryan Bulaga -- were hurt in Sunday's 31-17 victory over Arizona. and Bulaga's hip injury appears serious enough to keep him out for an extended period of time. Matthews doesn't feel his hamstring is as bad as it's been in the past, coach Mike McCarthy said, but it still could sideline him for "a couple weeks."
Matthews leads the Packers with nine sacks, which ties him with the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware and Broncos' Von Miller for second in the league behind the Texans' J.J. Watt (10½).
"Clay's a difference maker," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Monday, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. "Hopefully, we'll get good news, and hopefully he'll be back sooner than what we think."
The Packers' injured list was already cramped, with top receiver Greg Jennings, perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Charles Woodson and workhorse running back Cedric Benson among the headliners.
"We need the physical rest, get our bodies back," Ryan Pickett said. "We've got two weeks to get them right, get them closer to playing. And guys that have been hurt before that, we have a chance to get them back. So this bye is at the perfect time, the ideal time for us.
"We've got a lot of fighters -- guys going down, guys stepping up, it shows a lot of character. (But) we can't wait to get all our players back. It's huge that we won these four games, but Chicago is out there a pretty good ways. We have to keep winning. I don't see them losing anytime soon. We just have to keep building off each win that we have, keep getting better."
Five of Green Bay's last seven games will be against NFC North opponents, a stretch that could prove every bit as tough for the banged-up Packers as the challenges they faced in the first half. In that stretch is a Dec. 16 visit to division-leading Chicago (7-1), and they still have to play Minnesota (5-4) and Detroit (4-4) twice each.
"To do what we want to do, you have to win your division games," Capers said. "When you have five of seven, we're going to get a heavy dose of guys who know a lot about us and we know a lot about them. That's always a challenge. You've got to put extra effort in the preparation. There's always a little more intensity that comes with division games. It'll start right as soon as we get back."
The players are doing their part by resting, both mentally and physically. McCarthy gave the Packers the entire week off, saying he wanted to make sure they were fresh for the final grind of the regular season, and he got no argument from his players.
"We're going to rest and recover this next week," Randall Cobb said, "and then it's back to work."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.