Green Bay Packers
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Packers search for 60-minute game
In 2016, the Green Bay Packers were 4-6 when quarterback Aaron Rodgers proclaimed the team was capable of running the table. On cue, the Packers reeled off six consecutive wins to get in the playoffs, then advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
This season, the Packers are 3-4-1 headed into Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins. They are in the middle of a five-game gauntlet of games at the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, home vs. Miami, then back on the road to face the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay lost the first two legs of this pivotal stretch. If it's going to rebound and make a run at a playoff berth, it will be up to Rodgers to play much better than he did against New England.
While Rodgers has thrown a sizzling 15 touchdown passes vs. one interception, he ranks near the bottom of the league in completion percentage. In a 31-17 loss at New England, Rodgers completed only 24 of 43 passes (55.8 percent). When the offense absolutely needed to score in the fourth quarter, it couldn't even get to midfield.
"I just feel like we have to play better, consistently, 60 minutes, try to eliminate some of the lulls we've been having," Rodgers said. "We have to play with confidence and play up to the level we're capable of playing."
The Dolphins will pose a stiff challenge, even as they go from the heat of Miami to a projected 32-degree day at Lambeau Field. Miami leads the NFL with 15 interceptions. Four of those came in last week's 13-6 victory over the Jets.
"Maybe he'll change his mind this game," Dolphins head coach Adam Gase joked of Rodgers' ability to avoid interceptions.
For the Packers, who are in third place in the NFC North and 10th place in the NFC, this is practically a must-win game. As head coach Mike McCarthy likes to say, there's no reason to discuss the playoffs until a team gets to win No. 10. For Green Bay to get to 10 wins, it must go 7-1 down the stretch.
"It's always good to be at home," McCarthy said. "You have to take care of your homefield advantage. That's something that's a great part of our focus this week. Really, the benefits of being at home is the repetition, particularly when you get to the end of the week. You've got to make sure you take advantage of that. To play in front of your home crowd, that's something that we've always enjoyed. We also know what's coming after it, too."
SERIES HISTORY: 15th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 10-4. Green Bay's .286 winning percentage against Miami is its worst against any opponent. The Packers won the last matchup 27-24 at Miami on Aaron Rodgers' fake-spike touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Quarless with three seconds remaining.