November 25, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by New York Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn (93) during the first quarter of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Vikings vs. Packers Preview: 5 Questions With Lombardi Ave.

Ray Rivard of Lombardi Ave. does the honors this week…

1. Why can’t the Packers beat the Giants?

A. The Packers can beat the Giants and did so last season, you might remember, in New York on a last second kick from none other than the 2012 struggling Mason Crosby. The past two games (playoff and last Sunday’s) were difficult to figure out. In both games, the Packers were out-coached and out-played. It was like in both games that the Packers didn’t want it as much as the Giants. It might be that it’s a case of losing the battle in hopes of winning the war, but it didn’t look good for the Packers last week. But even more importantly the thing for Green Bay isn’t that they lost to the Giants last week, but how they respond this week against the Vikings.

2. It looks like Greg Jennings will get back on the field this weekend. How big a difference will it make having him back out there?

A. I think it will be significant, especially for Aaron Rodgers. Even if Jennings only catches a couple of passes Sunday, just having him on the field will be a boost for the Packers. His presence will give Rodgers that extra target that he hasn’t had, really, since the first game of the season when Jennings was first hurt. He tried going against Seattle in the season’s third game, but aggravated the injury and hasn’t seen the field since. It will be great for the Packers to have him back on the field and should he stay injury-free the rest of the season, he will certainly help the Packers in their drive for a playoff berth.

3. How much has the loss of Clay Matthews hurt the defense?

A. Measuring Matthews’ value is difficult. No question, when you take away the team’s leading sack leader, it’s going to have an effect. He’s a leader and a producer. His replacements, Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo, have been adequate, but they don’t add up to a single Matthews. Getting him back will be crucial for the Packers defense and necessary if this team is going to have any chance of winning these upcoming divisional match ups.

4. Mason Crosby’s struggles must be driving everyone nuts over there. Why not call up Ryan Longwell? His leg should be well rested.

A. Mike McCarthy hasn’t blinked in his support of Crosby, but putting him on the field for a 55-yard field goal in windy New York didn’t help the kicker’s confidence. Ryan Longwell is ok for the golf course, but certainly isn’t ready to hit the football field. In my opinion, this could be a very important week for Crosby. It sounds like the weather will be good at Lambeau Field Sunday and if he’s able to get a couple of kicks to be true, it could go a long way in helping him snap out of the funk he’s in.

5. The Packers are sort of grinding along. Big change from last year when they steamrolled through the regular season. Can they put it together for a true Super Bowl run or is this team just too flawed?

A. Amid all the injuries and the warts that have erupted on this team, there’s no question they can still make a run to the Playoffs and certainly toward another Super Bowl. The next month’s games against NFC North Division rivals will be the key. They could get into the Playoffs through the wild card, but the Packers certainly want to win the division and get at least one home Playoff game. The thing playing in the Packers advantage is the fact that they should be getting some important players – Woodson, Matthews, Shields – back from injuries. First things first, however. It all starts with Sunday’s game against the Vikings and the need to get back to winning.

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