One of those 12 losses would indeed come against the Browns, a 26-24 defeat that foretold just how miserable the 2005 season was going to be for Green Bay. The following season, Mike McCarthy took over as the 16th head coach in Packers' history, and it didn't take long for him to restore the storied franchise of Green Bay.
McCarthy remains comfortably in the driver's seat, but he has been forced to deal with all sorts of adversity in 2013. The past two weeks have brought along injury after injury, nearly wiping out the entire starting linebacker corps as well as half of Green Bay's wide receivers.
Somehow, the Packers still found a way to escape Baltimore with a 19-17 victory to improve to 3-2 on the season, but as opposed to past years, the Brown are no joke. They have an impressive defense and enter Week 7 with a 3-3 record, so let's find out what to watch for during Sunday's late-afternoon showdown.
Jermichael Finley split out wide
James Jones' status is still unclear for Sunday -- he has yet to practice this week -- and we already know the Packers will be devoid of Randall Cobb's services for at least a month. All signs point to Green Bay having three active wide receivers with the promotion of Myles White from the practice squad to the active roster.
There's a reason the Packers didn't go out and bring in another receiver, and that's because tight end Jermichael Finley might play the role of No. 3 receiver, perhaps even out of the slot at times. Finley was used almost exclusively out wide after Jones and Cobb exited against the Baltimore Ravens.
Rather than use a lot of White in three-receiver sets, the Packers are better off using Finley as a receiver and increasing the role of Andrew Quarless at tight end.
The "next men up"
You hear it a lot from Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers -- the next man up mentality, in reference to those who fill the void of an injured player. Well, there are a lot of players asking to be the next man up against the Browns, including Jarrett Boykin at receiver, and Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba at linebacker.
There would have been widespread panic if entering the season, these three players were featured in prominent roles. The terror hasn't quite set in, as Mulumba as well as Jamari Lattimore at middle linebacker have performed admirably in increased roles.
But Boykin dropped two passes after entering against the Ravens, and Green Bay is down to two active outside linebackers if Mike Neal (bruised shoulder) is unable to suit up on Sunday. The Packers really can't afford any more injuries at receiver or linebacker, or really any injuries in general -- they may struggle to fill out the 46-man roster on game day.
A turnover-minded Packers defense
The secret's out -- Brandon Weeden isn't all that good at playing quarterback, and he wouldn't even be starting this week if Brain Hoyer hadn't torn his ACL earlier this season. In fact, according to Craigslist, Weeden's job is up for grabs.
Green Bay's secondary has to be licking its chops, as Weeden is usually good for at least one interception a game. The Browns do feature a few weapons in the passing game, but they only rush for 86.8 yards per game and the Packers have a Top 3 run defense.
That should put the ball in Weeden's hands early and often, which means Green Bay's defense needs to be opportunistic, getting pressure on the quarterback and ball hawking in the defensive backfield.
Can Packers stay balanced on offense?
As noted above, Cleveland has an excellent defense, allowing under 100 rushing yards and just 214 passing yards per game. That puts the Browns in the Top 10 in each category, as well as No. 7 in all of football in total defense.
It's difficult to say this with a straight face, but the Browns may choose to put more emphasis on stopping the run. Seriously. The Packers have the fifth-best running game in the NFL, and considering the injuries at wide receiver, Rodgers may continue to struggle (by his standards) throwing the football.
Joe Haden at cornerback, Barkevious Mingo at linebacker and Desmond Bryant at defensive tackle give the Browns a playmaker at every level of the defense. It will be no walk in the park putting points up against Cleveland, especially if the Packers remain dismal in the redzone.
A "salty" Aaron Rodgers
That's right. Aaron Rodgers is now a pirate.
Well, not really. At least as far as we know. But what we believe Mike McCarthy meant by his comment about Rodgers during his Monday press conference was that he likes when Rodgers has an edge to him; when he's dealing with adversity and facing criticism from outside voices.
The adversity would be the injuries Green Bay has been dealt at receiver, and that criticism is a product of Rodgers appearing to be off his game as of late. He completed only 53.1 percent of his passes against the Ravens and also threw an interception in the endzone.
Basically, that chip on Rodgers' shoulder we all know so well has reappeared, and that usually spells trouble for opposing defenses. The usual weapons aren't at his disposal, but we saw Rodgers begin to turn it up once the Packers became shorthanded at receiver last Sunday.
We'll see if that carries over to this Sunday.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe.
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- Green Bay Packers
- Cleveland Browns
- Aaron Rodgers
- the Browns
- Jermichael Finley
- Brandon Weeden