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Green Bay (2-3): Injuries. Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins is out for the season and cornerback Al Harris is out indefinitely, meaning the Packers are without two top defenders. The other cornerback, Charles Woodson, is playing with a broken toe, and safety Atari Bigby didn't play in Sunday's 27-24 loss to Atlanta.
Then there's Aaron Rodgers, who played Sunday with a sore shoulder and threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns. It was obvious at times the shoulder bothered him, but he carried on. Why didn't the Packers at least sign a veteran backup in the offseason? The one positive: Chicago is only a game ahead, and the Bears, while decent, are clearly beatable.
Minnesota (2-3). The problem starts with the passing game. Gus Frerotte took over after two games, but at 37 is simply a placeholder until Jackson develops or a new QB is found (Marc Bulger, anyone?). The Vikings were 8-8 last year and the acquisition of Jared Allen and Bernard Berrian raised visions of Super Bowl trips. That was premature, especially without a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback. Berrian is a decent deep threat as a complement in a good receiving corps, but he's not a Randy Moss or Terrell Owens with a unit that otherwise is barely average.
Philadelphia (2-3). Sunday's 23-17 loss to Washington was almost a must win for the Eagles because the NFC East is so good you have to hold serve at home against a division opponent, especially after taking a 14-0 lead. Brian Westbrook broke his ribs after coming back from an ankle injury. Yes, rookie DeSean Jackson is a weapon, but the Eagles don't go very far without a healthy Westbrook.
In any case, 2-3 would be OK in another division. Not in one where the other three teams are 4-0, 4-1 and 4-1. Overall, the Giants, Cowboys, Redskins and Eagles are 12-1 against everyone else and the one loss was by Philly in Chicago.
Yes, it's early.
But none of these teams is the 2005 Steelers or the 2007 Giants. Maybe two or three will make the playoffs.
Or maybe not.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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