Streak Provides Momentum

The Packers are confident that their new best friend, Mo, will be waiting for them after the bye. Green Bay has won three straight to surge to the front of the NFC North race.

The Packers have a new friend Mo -- short for momentum -- and they fully expect him to be waiting for them when they return from their one week of vacation.

"Nah, nah, not worried," said cornerback Charles Woodson, when asked about the possibility of Mo abandoning the Packers and disappearing because they went away for a while.

When the Packers get back to work Monday after coach Mike McCarthy gave the players a full seven days off for the bye, their longtime buddies Confidence and Swagger will be hanging out with them. Green Bay has been buoyed by a season-best three straight victories that has it in sole possession of the NFC North lead with a 6-3 record.

The cocksure attitude that several players projected before the season started -- what with chatter of going to the Super Bowl and a public display of wearing cowboy hats to signify the team's mission to get to Cowboys Stadium for the title game in February -- simmered down some when a rash of early-season injuries left the Packers an ordinary team with a .500 record out of the gate.

Yet, the eternal optimism is brewing again after the resilient Packers exacted revenge on former teammate Brett Favre and the Vikings with a 28-24 win on Oct. 24 in Green Bay. They followed that up by silencing the previously red-hot Jets 9-0 on the road on Halloween, and then sealed the midseason firing of Dallas coach Wade Phillips with a 45-7 beat-down of the Cowboys on Sunday night.

"I think we played a full team game for 60 minutes -- defense, offense and special teams," running back John Kuhn said of the latest conquest. "It took nine weeks to do it, but we finally put a team game together and looked pretty good."

Or, as star linebacker Clay Matthews summed up, "We're playing in sync now."

Matthews and the rest of the defense are on top of their game despite being three starters down (safety Morgan Burnett and linebackers Nick Barnett and Brad Jones) the rest of the season.

The Packers have been relentless with their pressure of the quarterback with a league-leading 28 sacks, including Matthews' unrivaled 10.5. They also are generating takeaways with regularity (10 during the three-game surge) after those were hard to come by in the early going (nine during the 3-3 start). What's more, Green Bay's patchwork group has begun resembling its No. 1-rated run defense from last season.

"I think we're just putting it all together now," Matthews said. "Defensively, we're playing lights out, and we kind of understand where we're at. We need to shut down the run, we need to force quarterbacks to make bad passes, and we're comfortable with our guys getting pressure and our guys in the deep end making plays. I think we've always felt like that, but it's just about putting it together, and that's kind of where we're at."

The Packers offense surely isn't humming at the high level that was expected on that side, but Sunday's fireworks of 415 yards, precise timing and throwing between Aaron Rodgers and his receivers, satisfactory gains on the ground, an unusually high rate of converting third downs and throwing up 31 points on the scoreboard (to go with 14 from the defense and special teams) was more like it.

Regardless of the disinterested Cowboys defense they exploited, the Packers were starving to unload in such a way on an opponent even without top running back Ryan Grant and dynamic tight end Jermichael Finley, who also are out for the season, as well as hobbled receiver Donald Driver.

"I think people saw what we're capable of," Kuhn said. "That's what our offense is made of. That's what we did in preseason that got everybody excited, and we're still capable of doing it."

Keeping Mo on their side will be as important, if not more so, when the Packers reconvene after their week's hiatus. They will either be tied with Chicago for the division lead or holding a slim edge on both the Bears (5-3) and the Vikings (3-5) -- those teams meet Sunday in Chicago -- and staring at a daunting schedule to begin the stretch run.

Green Bay will play four of its next five games on the road, starting with back-to-back visits to Minnesota and NFC South-leading Atlanta.

"We do have some momentum going, and hopefully we can continue that coming back with a week off," Matthews said.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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