Packers notebook

Bigby named NFC player of month; location reason for extra day off; win total matches record; 2008 opponents

Packers safety Atari Bigby was named NFC Defensive player of the month for December, the NFL announced today.

Bigby tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions during the month in just four games. The Packers posted a 3-1 record in December and clinched the NFC North division, locking up the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Bigby posted an interception in three of Green Bay's four December games. He had a 22-yard interception in Week 14 and recorded a career-high two interceptions the next week against St. Louis. Bigby finished the month with an interception in the Packers' win over Detroit.

In his second year from Central Florida, this is Bigby's first career Player of the Month Award. He is the second Packers player to be named Defensive Player of the Month this year, joining Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman (October).

Location, location, location
With no direct flights between Green Bay and most U.S. airports, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy built in an additional day for the break he gave his players for the bye week in the playoffs.

Most of the players were allowed to get away and visit family and friends from Monday to Thursday. The team reconvenes Friday morning for the first of two straight days of practice.

"Just to be honest, three days off was something that I was probably more comfortable with," McCarthy said. "But, twice last year, I went with a three-day format as far as time off and when you travel from this part of the country -- and some of our players live in Florida and on the West Coast -- you really need to allow an extra day for travel. That's where that formula came from."

Win total matches record
By not letting up in their meaningless regular-season finale Sunday and throttling Detroit 34-13, the Packers finished 13-3 to equal the most victories in franchise history.

"Anytime you talk about tying 'the best ever' in Green Bay, it's a big deal with the teams of the past. It's a big accomplishment," center Scott Wells said.

Thirteen wins proved to be a favorable benchmark the other three times it happened in the regular season for Green Bay.

The 1962 team went 13-1 in 1962 and won the NFL Championship.

The 1996 and '97 teams each went 13-3 and advanced to the Super Bowl, with the former winning the league title.

McCarthy is counting on the baker's dozen in the victory column to be a springboard to a deep run in the postseason this season.

"Anytime you can stand here and say that you've set an all-time record in the history of the Green Bay Packers, that speaks volumes," he said. "But, more importantly, it's what you do with the 13 wins, and that's our focus."

2008 schedule will be challenging
Not that anyone associated with the team is looking ahead to next season, but the Packers could have their work cut out for them in 2008.

They will have six games -- four on the road -- against teams that are joining them in the playoffs this season. The home schedule features potential primetime matchups against Dallas and Indianapolis, while Seattle and Jacksonville stick out on the away slate.

Green Bay's opponents had a combined record of 136-120 this season.

29th at best in first round of NFL draft
Based on their regular-season finish, the Packers will pick no higher than 29th in the first round of the April 26-27 draft.

Green Bay could go as low as 30th (currently held by Dallas) if it wins the NFC title and 31st (held by San Francisco via Indianapolis) if it wins the Super Bowl. The first round will consist of 31 picks because New England was stripped of its selection as part of the punishment from earlier this season for videotaping transgressions.

The Packers last had a first-round pick as low as 29 in 2003, when they took linebacker Nick Barnett out of Oregon State at No. 29.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Occurrences in which the Packers had an opening-round bye in the NFC playoffs. Besides this season, the club also had a week off in its Super Bowl seasons of 1996 and '97.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm a little bit surprised by the turnaround, but I've played long enough to know anything can happen. It's been a dramatic turnaround, I will say that. I'm glad I've been a part of it. I'm glad I've been productive. It makes my decision to come back seem like the right decision, which I felt that it was when I made that decision. And, I'm sure if we have a game here in the playoffs and lose, I'll have to answer those questions again or think about that. And, there's going to come a time -- even if we're fortunate enough to win the Super Bowl -- that I'm going to have to face that question."
-- Quarterback Brett Favre, on retirement questions posed to him at the end of the previous two non-playoff seasons, compared to looking forward to postseason football with a 13-3 team this season.


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