-- The resilient Packers enter the stretch run where they were pegged to be when the season started: atop the NFC North. They ripped off three straight wins before the bye, exacting some sweet revenge against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings and then shutting out the New York Jets before rolling over the Dallas Cowboys by 38 points.
-- Coordinator Dom Capers has been doing wonders of late with a defense decimated by injuries. Thanks in no small measure to Clay Matthews, Green Bay has allowed only seven points the last two games, is among the league leaders with 28 sacks and rekindled its knack from last season for creating turnovers and stopping the run.
-- As long as Aaron Rodgers is on the field and running the offense - a sturdy line has kept him relatively clean with only 17 sacks after he absorbed a league-high 50 in 2009 - Green Bay has the capability to score at will, which finally happened against Dallas.
-- If the Packers are going to fulfill the expectations of many, including their own, and not only win the division but get to the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years, they probably can't withstand any more injuries to key players. They lead the league with 11 players on injured reserve, including six starters.
-- The firepower of the offense has been in short supply too much. The season-ending losses of back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley have contributed to the inconsistent performances, which have been marked by occasional disconnect between Rodgers and his receivers as well as third-down misery (39.4 percent conversion rate).
-- The remaining schedule isn't favorable for the Packers. They play four of their next five games on the road, including visits to the Vikings, Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.
Inside the Vikings
Quarterback Brett Favre put it about as bluntly as possible after the Vikings' 27-13 loss at Chicago on Sunday dropped Minnesota to 3-6.
"We're running out of games," Favre said. "At the rate we're playing, it won't take but a couple more, and we'll be out of it. And that's just being honest. I don't know how to sugar-coat it. If we don't play any better than we did today, or we did for 56 minutes last week (against Arizona), the writing's on the wall. So, I'd love to sit here and tell you something different, but that's the way it is."
It's possible the Vikings and Favre already have run out of games.
Players tried to remain optimistic Sunday, saying that if they win their final seven that will mean a very respectable 10-6 finish, but there is little reason to believe the 2010 Vikings are capable of putting together a seven-game run.
"It's getting old, the same song and dance," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said. "Different game, same story. We're just inconsistent. We've shown times of being really good. It really just comes down to playing with energy and effort and executing your job, and when we do that we're pretty good. When we don't, you see what happens."
The Bears improved to 6-3 with the victory and are now tied with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North. Both teams are three games ahead of division rival Minnesota.
The Vikings will play host to the Packers on Sunday and Green Bay will have the benefit of being fresh coming off its bye week.
"I don't know," coach Brad Childress said when asked if the Packers game presented a do-or-die situation. "It's too crazy a league to get in the prediction business."
As the Vikings' struggles continue, so does the speculation that Childress will lose his job at some point this season. Rumors were flying a couple of weeks ago that Childress might be gone after he decided to release wide receiver Randy Moss without consulting ownership.
While Childress managed to dodge that bullet, the fact the Vikings looked apathetic at times against the Bears isn't going to help his case.
"You deal with it," Childress said when asked how he feels about the fact many will call for him to be dismissed. "It's not something you're happy to deal with but you deal with what's out there. My name's behind the Vikings team and it all starts with me. So if it gets directed there that's part of the equation."
Childress also likely will hear many chants calling for his ouster on Sunday at Mall of America Field but he said he has every intention of being on the sideline.
"Until I get told any differently, yeah, (I expect to be coaching)," he said.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.