Starter Pack: Just getting started?

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
8:00
AM ET
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It may be hard to believe that after all the Packers have been through in the last 16 weeks -- the 5-2 start, Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone and a bevy of other injuries plus four starting quarterbacks and a five-game winless streak -- that they're one win away from a third straight NFC North title and a fifth straight playoff appearance.

One of coach Mike McCarthy's biggest tasks this week in the days leading up to the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field might be getting his 7-7-1 team to believe it's all possible.

“We're playing for a division championship, and it's been a wild ride so far,” McCarthy said Monday. “And I like to think we're just getting started. That's what I'm selling. Hopefully they're buying it."

McCarthy will deliver his message on Tuesday, when the players reconvene for the first time since Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers -- a defeat that had them on the verge of elimination before they even reached Week 17.

It's far different message than he left the players with on Sunday, when he was under the impression that their playoff hopes had been dashed.

Their Christmas week work will entail a rare working Tuesday (normally the players' day off) followed by an off day on Wednesday (normally the start of their work week) for the holiday. They're scheduled for only two days of on-field practice (Thursday and Friday) this week.

“It's late in the year, obviously we've had a lot of challenges from an injury standpoint, and on a personal note, I think it's important for people to be with their family on Christmas,” McCarthy said.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
  • McCarthy doesn't want the Rodgers' situation to drag out this week like it has in recent weeks. That's good for all parties involved, perhaps especially for Rodgers given that it's clear he has become more frustrated the longer he has waited to return.
  • There won't be any waiting for linebacker Clay Matthews, who reinjured his broken thumb and appears to be out again.
  • After reviewing the game film and listening to McCarthy talk about the final 10 seconds of the Steelers' loss, the Packers might have a legitimate beef about the way the officials handled things. An NFL spokesman said the league is investigating.
  • In the weekly Upon Further Review feature, we looked back at some of the hot topics from the Steelers' loss.
  • Looking ahead to Sunday's game, ESPN Bears reporter Michael C. Wright and I discussed the matchup in video form.
Elsewhere:

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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Insider

NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8