As his arsenal of weapons dwindle, Brett Favre’s ammunition may be nearing empty.
Green Bay is coming off an absolutely heartbreaking defeat on Sunday in Minnesota. The Vikings rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit and used a game-winning 56-yard field goal on the game’s final play to stun the Packers.
Making matters worse, the Packers lost running back Ahman Green for the season and will be without the services of wide receiver Robert Ferguson. Green ruptured his right thigh tendon Sunday and coach Mike Sherman announced that he will undergo surgery this week.
Ferguson could be sidelined for up to a month with a torn lateral cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Without their top two running backs and three top receivers, the Packers head into a brutal stretch, in which four of their next five opponents are among the league’s best teams: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Minnesota and Philadelphia.
“I don’t think we’re in a position where we think about having our backs broken,” Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson said. “This is the NFL. Things like this happen in the NFL. Obviously, we’re very sad that a player, especially a quality player like Ahman Green, gets hurt like that.
“You can’t cry in your milk. You pick yourself up and try to help your team as much as you can. This is a big man’s league and you have to act like big boys and keep plugging along.”
As bad as it has been for the 1-5 Packers this season, they may take some solace knowing that they’re not out of the race yet in the league’s weakest division—the NFC North.
Heading into its matchup in Cincinnati, the last-place Packers trail the 2-4 Vikings and Chicago and Detroit, who are tied atop the division at 3-3.
If Favre is going to get the 171 passing yards and 26 attempts needed to surpass John Elway (51,475, 7,250) for second all-time in each statistical category, he’s going to have to do it with his new arsenal this Sunday.
Donald Driver will likely be double-teamed by Cincinnati’s defense.
“This is the hand we’re dealt, and these are the cards we have to play with,” Sherman said.
The Bengals, meanwhile, are hoping to exploit Green Bay’s vulnerability and bounce back following last week’s disappointing home loss.
After defeating suspect opponents en route to a 5-1 record, the Bengals missed the chance to prove they belong with the AFC’s elite teams in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to Pittsburgh as the Steelers racked up 221 rushing yards.
Cincinnati, which missed a chance to pad its lead atop the AFC North, hopes Sunday’s loss serves as a wake-up call for the remainder of the season.
“As a team, we’ve got to grow up and quit being so silly,” Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson said. “When you play teams like Pittsburgh, they’ve got 53 grown men out there playing together for a common goal, not to see who’s the biggest star, who’s the biggest name.
“I know we’re a young team, but we’ve got to grow up and say we’re playing in a league of grown men. You can laugh and have fun, but you’d better be getting ready to go out there for a fight.”
The Bengals, who lead the league with 23 takeaways (15 interceptions, eight fumbles) this season, should be able to exploit Green Bay’s possible lack of offensive chemistry due to its numerous injuries.
Despite a bruised left (non-throwing) shoulder sustained against Pittsburgh, quarterback Carson Palmer says his team should be over the fallout from their big loss and ready to host Green Bay.
“I don’t think Sunday can come soon enough for this team,” Palmer said.
The last meeting between these teams dates back to Sept. 20, 1998, when Green Bay recorded a 13-6 road victory over the Bengals. The Packers are 0-3 on the road this season.