Oakland Raiders (7-5) at Green Bay Packers (12-0)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 3:15 p.m.
SURFACE: Natural grass
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Packers have turned an NFL-high 23 interceptions into 67 points, which has been the saving grace for the league's second-worst pass defense. By contrast, Oakland leads the NFL with 67 plays of at least 20-plus yards. Translation: the Raiders should move the ball, but how well they capitalize on those drives will determine how competitive the game is. Oakland's power ground game will also take aim at Green Bay's banged-up linebacker corps. But will it be enough with the Packers averaging 35 points per game? QB Aaron Rodgers gets rid of the ball quickly enough to negate the Raiders' pass rush, meaning Oakland must find a way to disrupt his rhythm and generate a few turnovers because the Packers simply have too many downfield weapons.
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 5-5. Green Bay takes a five-game winning streak into the interconference teams' first meeting since Dec. 9, 2007, a 38-7 Packers rout at Lambeau Field. The Raiders won the first five regular-season matchups, the last coming in 1987 at Green Bay. The teams' first encounter came in Super Bowl II at the end of the 1967 season the Packers won a second straight AFL-NFL title with a 33-14 triumph in Miami.
TEAM STATISTICAL RANKINGS: Packers offense — first in scoring with 35.0 ppg (Fourth in total yards; 29th rushing; third passing). Raiders defense — 27th in scoring with 25.7 ppg (26th in total yards; 28th rushing; 17th passing). Packers defense — 17th in scoring with 21.8 ppg (31st in total yards; 13th rushing; 31st passing). Raiders offense — 15th in scoring with 22.8 ppg (12th in total yards; fourth rushing; 16th passing).
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 — Quarterbacks who have thrown at least 40 touchdown passes in a season. The Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who has a league-high 37, is on the verge of joining the New England Patriots' Tom Brady (50 in 2007), the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning (49 in 2004), the Miami Dolphins' Dan Marino (48 in 1984, 44 in 1986) and the St. Louis Rams' Kurt Warner (41 in 1999). 58 — Green Bay has allowed 58 plays of at least 20 yards, including 51 through the air. 210.6 — Average number of yards rushing the Raiders have allowed in their five losses.
GAME PLAN: The magic number will be 30 for the Packers to likely assure themselves of hiking their record to a lucky 13-0. Green Bay has scored at least 30 points eight times, including five of the last six games, in compiling a league-best scoring average of 35 points. The Raiders, conversely, have gone into the 30s only twice and not since a 34-24 win over the New York Jets in Week 3. Piling up the points may take some doing for the Packers, especially if their 31st-rated defense spends considerable time on the field. Oakland wants nothing more than to pound the football with its fourth-ranked rushing offense (140.6 yards per game) and limit the opportunities Aaron Rodgers has to go against its defense. Darren McFadden will miss a sixth consecutive game with a foot injury, but Michael Bush can do enough damage on his own if Green Bay's banged-up defense continues to have issues with containment and making tackles. The Packers are vulnerable to the big play through the air, so the Raiders will be tempted to pick their spots when to have Carson Palmer take some deep shots.
Too bad the Packers don't have even a respectable run game to speak of because Oakland's defense has allowed 172 and 209 rushing yards in the last two outings. The Packers' 29th-ranked rush offense might be without top producer James Starks because of an aggravated ankle injury. Unless Ryan Grant and/or undrafted rookie Brandon Saine can rip off a few promising runs in the early going, expect head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy to go with the tried-and-true formula of keeping the football in Rodgers' hands and firing away. The burden will be on a patchwork offensive line to stem the push Oakland can bring with abandon up front. The Raiders have 33 sacks, allowed a meager passer rating of 75.5 to opposing quarterbacks and not given up 300 passing yards in each of the last seven games.