December 16, 2015

Eddie Lacy's roller-coaster season took a positive turn for the Green Bay Packers last weekend, but he might not find things as easy against the Oakland Raiders.

That could leave the game on the right arm of Aaron Rodgers, who simply hasn't been as sharp while posting his worst passer rating in seven years.

The visiting Packers hope to maintain their slim lead in the NFC North on Sunday with their seventh straight victory over the Raiders, who are looking to move to .500 this late in a season for the first time since 2011.

Lacy had been an afterthought at times during a disappointing start in which he averaged 38.5 yards over his first eight contests following back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

He finally showed signs of breaking through with consecutive 100-yard performances in Weeks 11 and 12, but fell into disfavor with coach Mike McCarthy because he reportedly missed curfew the night before a 27-23 win over Detroit on Dec. 3.

After he only had five carries against the Lions, Lacy made the most of another chance last Sunday with a season-high 124 yards and a touchdown on 24 rushes in a 28-7 victory over Dallas.

''We all make a couple bad decisions along the way and that doesn't change my opinion of Eddie,'' said McCarthy after his first game since taking over the play-calling duties from associate head coach Tom Clements. ''So he needed to refocus and he did that.''

Since falling behind Minnesota during a 1-4 stretch in November, Green Bay has taken the top spot back with back-to-back victories while the Vikings have dropped their past two.

Although Lacy has gotten back on track, the Packers (9-4) might not be able to ride him again as they take on Oakland (6-7). Green Bay has won by an average of 23.3 points during a run in this series that goes back to the Raiders' time in Los Angeles.

Oakland, however, has held opponents to under 100 yards on the ground in eight of its last 11 games. It has given up 55.7 per game in the last three after limiting Denver to a season-low 34 in last Sunday's 15-12 road win.

The Raiders hope to reach .500 this late for the first time since finishing 8-8 in 2011.

Oakland's tough run defense could leave the ball in Rodgers' hands. Though that wouldn't be wise in most seasons, the two-time MVP has his lowest completion percentage (61.2) since becoming a full-time starter and his worst passer rating (97.5) since 2008.

Rodgers has only thrown for 300 yards three times after completing 22 of 35 passes for 218 and two touchdowns last weekend. The Raiders rank 28th against the pass, allowing 271.5 yards per game, but they've piled up 19 sacks over the past five.

Khalil Mack had a franchise record-tying five sacks last weekend, leaving him with a league-best 14. He's two away from matching Derrick Burgess' team record set in 2005.

''Hard work pays off,'' Mack said. ''You go out and you work on your craft every day and every week, so when you see it working on the stat sheet, it's pretty cool to see.''

Rodgers has been dropped 31 times, the fourth-most in the NFC. He'll get his first look at former teammate Charles Woodson since he left for Oakland in 2013.

The 39-year-old Woodson, who helped the Packers win the Super Bowl in 2010, is tied for third in the league with five interceptions and is first with four forced fumbles.

''He was a great leader for us at a time when we needed that type of leadership and he took us to a special place and had a lot of memories together," Rodgers said.

Oakland's Derek Carr seemed to be on his way toward a breakout second season when he threw for an average of 290.4 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions in Weeks 2-9. Since then, however, he's thrown for 243.8 per game with nine scores and five picks.

Carr completed a season-low 41.4 percent of his attempts for 135 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday. It certainly didn't help that Amari Cooper, who has a team-high 920 receiving yards, was held without a catch on eight targets while dealing with a foot injury.

Latavius Murray hasn't provided much in the running game, averaging 50.0 yards on 2.8 per carry over his last four. He'll try to reverse that trend against a Green Bay team that ranks 23rd with 116.4 rushing yards allowed per game.

The Packers have been much better against the pass, ranking 11th with 233.8 yards allowed per game. Cornerback Sam Shields, though, has been ruled out because of a concussion.

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