1:00 PM ET, October 17, 2010
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
The Green Bay Packers entered the season with high hopes of making a Super Bowl run, but they've had to work through major inconsistency throughout their first five games.
Their growing list of injuries may present an even bigger challenge.
Although Aaron Rodgers is likely to play despite a concussion, Green Bay still has concerns entering Sunday's matchup with the visiting Miami Dolphins, who come out of their bye hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss.
The Packers (3-2) have already played without running back Ryan Grant since he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1, and they suffered several other losses during a 16-13 overtime defeat at Washington last Sunday.
Rodgers and NFL sacks leader Clay Matthews are the two most important players in a banged-up group that also includes defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, tight end Donald Lee and offensive lineman Mark Tauscher. Cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby, meanwhile, have yet to play this season.
"It's one of them seasons, man, where everybody is getting hit, and we just got to bounce back," Finley said. "Hopefully at the end of the season it could be a story, you know, about us still being in the Super Bowl. I still got faith in this team."
Matthews is doubtful with a strained left hamstring, but Rodgers expects to start after passing a series of neurological tests and practicing Thursday and Friday.
"Having never had a concussion before, it was definitely a learning process to understand how my body feels," Rodgers said. "Because obviously I've been dinged in the head a number of times, everything from in high school seeing the stars and stuff to the different shots you take along the way. I think it was just a great learning process to understand how my body reacts to different situations."
Green Bay has also encountered problems on the field, including eight turnovers in the last three weeks during two losses and a shaky home victory over Detroit on Oct. 3.
The Packers committed 18 penalties in a 20-17 loss at NFC North-leading Chicago on Sept. 27 and nine more last Sunday -- one reason they lost despite an improved running game that racked up 157 yards on 17 carries.
"I think we all know yards don't mean anything," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's about points."
Green Bay ranked third in the NFL in scoring last season but has been held under 20 points in both defeats, something that happened once in all of 2009.
Miami's defense was stingy the first two weeks, allowing a total of 20 points in victories at Buffalo and Minnesota, but then AFC East contenders New York and New England combined for 72 points in their wins in south Florida.
The Patriots did much of their damage on defense and special teams in a 41-14 victory Oct. 4, becoming the first team in NFL history to get a touchdown from an interception return, a blocked field goal return and a kickoff return in the same game.
The Dolphins (2-2) promptly fired special teams coach John Bonamego and spent their bye week trying to correct the problems.
"I want my core players to play better on special teams," coach Tony Sparano said. "If we need to put some starters out there, then we will."
Quarterback Chad Henne also had plenty to think about during the week off. While Henne has passed for 668 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games, he's also thrown four interceptions in that stretch -- matching a career high with three against New England.
Sparano still thinks Henne is making progress, and Henne believes he's capable of leading the Dolphins to the playoffs.
"Definitely. There's no question," Henne said. "I see myself each and every day getting better at things that I wasn't so good at last year."
In addition to reigning NFL defensive player of the year Charles Woodson likely leading coverage of top target Brandon Marshall, Henne will find a stiff challenge playing at Lambeau Field for the first time.
The Packers have won six straight at home dating to last season, and the Dolphins lost their last two visits to Green Bay in 1997 and 2002.
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Dolphins-Packers: 10 observations
After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Dolphins-Packers matchup.
1. Special teams! Everyone saw Miami's special-teams debacle in a Monday night game in Week 4 against New England. It really doesn't get any worse than that. Although Green Bay isn't great on special teams, surely it has studied that film intensely and will attempt some strategies that New England employed in all phases of special-teams play. The Dolphins do have a new special-teams coach since that fateful night, Darren Rizzi.
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Green Bay Packers
|Avg Points Allowed||22.4||18.7|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||MIA|
|Rush Yds Allowed||MIA|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 2-1|
|Oct 22, 2006||MIA 24, GB 34|
|Nov 4, 2002||MIA 10, @GB 24|
The Packers have been by hit hard by significant injuries to several key players and it was announced Monday that QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion) and TE Jermichael Finley (knee) may miss some time. Jermichael Finley still leads the Packers in receiving yards, yards per catch, and 20+ yard receptions despite not recording a single catch in Packers loss to the Redskins after getting knocked out early in the game because of a knee injury. Finley is expected to miss three weeks recovering from the injury.[+]
The Dolphins have been like night and day is primetime games this season. Their defense has been atrocious and Chad Henne has been a turnover machine. Home-field advantage has also been nonexistent as the fins are winless at home.[+]
Miami Dolphins, This Season
ESPN Stats & Information