Pregame warmup: Packers need win to keep pace in NFC

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 8, 2014 – 6:04 pm

GREEN BAY — The Packers are aiming for their 10th win of the season on Monday night vs. Atlanta, and they need it to keep pace with the top teams in the NFC.

Arizona got its 10th win on Sunday, while Seattle, Detroit and Dallas all got their ninth this week. Philadelphia also has nine wins after losing to Seattle.

The Packers need to win to stay one game ahead of the Lions in the NFC North standings and to stay tied with the Cardinals for the top record in the conference. The NFC North perhaps won’t be decided until Week 17, but the jockeying for playoff positioning, including byes and home-field advantage, will be ongoing between now and then.

Injury update: The Packers are getting CB Sam Shields back for this game following his concussion. Shields left in the first half against New England last week and didn’t practice all week while going through the concussion protocol. He received medical clearance and has been activated to play.

Weather update: It’s snowing in Green Bay, but accumulation remains minimal as the temperature hovers around 32-33 degrees, where it is expected to remain for most of the game. Winds are light.

Lambeau Field was covered with a tarp until about two hours before kickoff, as a rain-snow mix fell for much of the afternoon. Whether the moisture has any impact on the field conditions remains to be seen.

Top receivers: All eyes are on the wide receivers for both teams in this game. Last week, Packers WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb became the first Green Bay duo to reach double digits in TD catches in the same season. Both have 10 with four games remaining.

Meanwhile, Atlanta WR Julio Jones came into this week ranked third in the league in both receptions and yards, and he’s coming off his best game of the season, a 10-catch, 189-yard effort in the Falcons’ victory over the Cardinals last week. Also, the Falcons are getting veteran WR Roddy White back from an ankle injury for this game. He is active and expected to play.

Cousins square off: Packers LB Clay Matthews and Falcons T Jake Matthews are cousins, and the two very well could square off one-on-one at times in Monday night’s game. For more on that potential matchup, click here.

New hero?: The Packers’ last two wins over the Falcons, in 2011 and ’13, have required major contributions from some rather unsung heroes. Does that mean another new hero will be emerging tonight? Ponder that by clicking here.

What lies ahead: Tonight’s game wraps up a stretch of four home games in five weeks for the Packers since their bye. They hit the road the next two weeks, traveling to Buffalo and Tampa Bay, before returning home for the Week 17 showdown with Detroit.

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