Pregame warmup: No three-way tie after this week

Posted by Mike Spofford on November 10, 2013 – 10:56 am

Kickoff is an hour away, so here’s your final rundown on what’s up today between the Packers and Eagles at Lambeau Field.

NFC North race

Entering the day, the Packers, Bears and Lions are all tied atop the division at 5-3, but it won’t stay that way. The Bears and Lions play each other in Chicago, so one of them will improve to 6-3. The question is whether the Packers will remain tied for first with a win, or drop one game behind the leader with a loss.

The Bears are expected to get starting QB Jay Cutler back from a groin injury as Chicago tries to even their season series with Detroit. The Lions won at Ford Field earlier this season.

Wallace at the helm

Seneca Wallace today becomes just the second player other than Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers to start a game at QB for Green Bay since 1992. The other was Matt Flynn, who started one game each in 2010 and 2011. Wallace also becomes the first African-American to start at QB for the Packers in franchise history.

Wallace has only been with the Packers a little over two months, signing in Week 1 following the release of backup QBs Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman and Vince Young as training camp concluded. The Packers are committed to making it work with Wallace, turning the offense over to him rather than signing a veteran backup following Aaron Rodgers’ injury. He has spent the bulk of his 11-year career in Seattle in the West Coast offense, and he functioned well enough in an emergency situation off the bench last week to produce 17 points.

The offense’s biggest downfall last Monday was third downs, going just 1-for-8 with Wallace under center. Pass-protection breakdowns hurt the cause, particularly on a pair of third downs in the fourth quarter around midfield, where the Packers probably needed just one conversion to get into field-goal range.

Injury update

Some of those pass-protection breakdowns were the result of T.J. Lang’s concussion, which forced RT Don Barclay to slide over and play RG for Lang, with Marshall Newhouse coming off the bench to replace Barclay at RT.

But Lang is back this week, getting medical clearance on a short week, so the Packers’ starting offensive line is expected to be intact.

Also, the defense should get a boost from the return of OLBs Clay Matthews (thumb) and Nick Perry (foot). Both are active. Matthews will be playing with a club-cast on his right hand after missing the last four games. Perry has missed the last 3 1/2 contests, and the Packers haven’t had a sack from an outside linebacker when Matthews and Perry have both been absent.

Cool fall weather

It’s a decent fall day in Green Bay, with temperatures in the low to mid-40s, winds around 12-13 mph and no chance of rain, according to the forecast.

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