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Starter Pack: Favorable schedule awaits

A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers’ beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers don’t know -- or at least they aren’t saying -- when quarterback Aaron Rodgers will return from his broken collarbone.

But with or without him, they might still have a fighting chance to save their season.

Despite three straight losses that have left them at 5-5, they are only one game behind NFC North co-leaders Detroit and Chicago.

But perhaps more importantly, they entered Week 12 with the fourth-easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Packers’ remaining opponents went into the week with a combined winning percentage of .417. Only the Buffalo Bills (whose remaining opponents had a combined winning percentage of .340), the Jacksonville Jaguars (.377) and the Lions (.377) will face an easier schedule.

Beginning with Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings (2-8), the Packers have only two games remaining against teams that currently have winning records: the Lions (6-4) and Bears (6-4).

Then again, maybe by the time Rodgers gets back they will be too far out of the playoff picture.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:

  • Although Rodgers remained sidelined with his broken collarbone, he did some light throwing on the practice field Thursday.

  • Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had one of his fines rescinded and another reduced after his appeal was heard, he told ESPN.com.

  • As productive as backup quarterback Scott Tolzien has been the past two weeks, he has struggled against the blitz.

  • The Packers added another cornerback, rookie Micah Hyde, to their injury report, leaving them short-handed at the position.

  • The Packers were a near-unanimous choice to beat the Vikings on Sunday in our panel’s picks.

  • Also, both Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and I picked the Packers in our Double Coverage preview.

Elsewhere:

  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Sarah Barshop wrote that the Packers slowed down Vikings running back Adrian Peterson once already this season, but they know that have to do it again on Sunday.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein wrote that tight end Brandon Bostick has shown the potential to be an adequate replacement for Jermichael Finley, whose career with the Packers may be over after his neck injury.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Weston Hodkiewicz wrote that without Rodgers, the Packers need their special teams to come through more than ever, especially the kickoff return unit to help out Tolzien with field position. Pete Dougherty noted that running back Eddie Lacy leads the NFL in carries since Week 4, but the Packers aren’t concerned he will hit the rookie wall.

  • And finally here’s one for the only-in-Green-Bay file: A local couple whose baby was born with a broken collarbone named the child Aaron Rodger, dropping the ‘s’ from Rodgers, who sustained his broken collarbone two weeks earlier.