Trying to predict the 2021 NFL season has seemed like an exercise in futility.

It is a year that has served as a perfect illustration of the NFL being a 'week-to-week league'; upsets have been frequent, making the elite teams tougher to discern, even with 10 weeks in the books.

Only four teams in the AFC are below .500 while, of those currently outside the playoffs in the NFC, every team aside from the winless Detroit Lions is at worst a game back in the loss column of the final Wild Card berth.

It sets the stage for a fascinating stretch run in the regular season and, for fantasy purposes, can sow doubt around players who would otherwise be considered sure things.

But, in Week 11, there are some clear standouts who look primed for highly productive performances. Once again, Stats Perform has identified four offensive players and a defense that deserve starting spots this week.

Quarterback: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals @ Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders were shredded by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs last week as their commitment to playing coverage looks featuring a single-high safety backfired spectacularly.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley seems steadfast in sticking with such coverages and the evidence suggests it will prove the Raiders' downfall again versus the Bengals.

Though the Bengals enter the game on a two-game losing streak, they can afford to have confidence in Burrow flourishing in Las Vegas.

Burrow is delivering a well-thrown, accurate ball on 84.4 per cent of his pass attempts against Cover 1 robber looks and on 90.2 per cent of throws versus Cover 3 zone.

The Raiders, therefore, represent the ideal matchup as the Bengals and Burrow look to bounce back. 

Running Back: A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings

The Packers will be without starting running back Aaron Jones because of a knee sprain, however, Dillon has proven himself an impressive complement and should excel filling the void while Jones is on the sideline.

Dillon was not efficient in the Packers' win over the Seattle Seahawks last time out, averaging only 3.1 yards per carry while finding the endzone twice.

However, he has averaged at least 4.9 yards per rush in the three other games where he has received at least 10 carries this year.

Against a Vikings defense giving up the third-most yards per rush in the league (4.74), Dillon will have the workload and the matchup to enjoy a career day in Jones' absence.

Wide Receiver: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys @ Kansas City Chiefs

The second-year wideout is on a tear, Lamb having racked up 378 receiving yards and four touchdowns over the last four games.

He is establishing himself as Dak Prescott's top target on a loaded offense few have managed to slow down in 2021.

The Chiefs have improved on defense of late but theirs is a unit allowing the third-most pass yards per play in the NFL (7.41). It is tough to have faith in Kansas City to slow down a receiver in Lamb's vein of form.

Tight End: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts

Returning from a fractured hand, Knox was targeted just once in the Bills' blowout win over the New York Jets.

The game script did not really call for Knox to be heavily involved as Buffalo built an insurmountable lead.

However, things are likely to be closer against the Colts, meaning Knox may need to reproduce the breakout form he delivered earlier in the season.

Knox has a touchdown in four of his seven games in 2021. Against a Colts defense allowing the seventh-most TD drives in the NFL (27), he's a strong bet to find the endzone again.

Defense: Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Miami's ultra-aggressive defense created havoc in their stunning win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. The Dolphins sacked Lamar Jackson four times, their commitment to relentlessly blitzing defensive backs derailing Baltimore's passing game, intercepted him once and forced two fumbles, with one returned for a touchdown.

Now they face a Jets team that has turned the ball over 22 times this season, committing 13 giveaways in their last four games.

They have turned to Joe Flacco in the belief the veteran, and not ailing second overall pick Zach Wilson or Mike White, gives them the best chance to win. However, Flacco threw an interception in each of his previous three appearances for the Jets last season. Despite the quarterback change, the signs still point to Miami's defense enjoying another disruptive day.

Having raised eyebrows across the NFL universe by trading up for Jordan Love in the first round, the Green Bay Packers sprung another surprise in the second round of the 2020 draft, with the selection of a power running back by the name of A.J. Dillon.

It was a pick that prompted a variety of reactions, ranging from anger and bemusement to outright hilarity from those astonished the Packers, with Aaron Jones already established as their top running back and an obvious need at wide receiver, would take the Boston College star so high.

Yet as Green Bay prepare for potentially two weeks without Jones due to a knee sprain, the primary feeling in the Packers' front office may be vindication.

The Packers moved to 8-2 on Sunday with a hard-fought shutout win over the Seattle Seahawks in the snow at Lambeau Field.

With Aaron Rodgers looking rusty at best following his coronavirus-enforced absence, Dillon thrived in the kind of game for which he was made.

He ploughed in for the game's only two touchdowns to secure a 17-0 triumph for Green Bay, finishing with 66 yards on 21 carries.

That average of 3.1 yards per attempt is not an impressive one, but Dillon's performances in his second year in the league have been increasingly eye-catching.

Having averaged 5.3 yards per rush as a rookie on 46 carries, he is racking up 4.3 yards per carry on the significantly larger sample size of 97 attempts.

A slightly more granular look at his production reveals that Dillon is doing precisely what Green Bay drafted him for as a complementary piece to Jones.

Dillon is averaging 2.38 yards after contact per attempt, above the league-wide average of 1.91 yards for running backs. In essence, he is allowing the Packers to mix downhill thump into a scheme that has traditionally focused on wide zone runs.

Ahead of Week 10, Dillon had 20 iso runs, a staple power running play. On those attempts, Dillon had an average of 3.58 yards after contact on runs to the left tackle side (league average – 1.99) and 2.63 yards after contact on carries to the right tackle side (league average – 1.76).

Yet Dillon has also enjoyed success when asked to run outside zone, averaging 4.75 yards per attempt, 2.50 yards after contact and 3.80 yards on such carries where there was a run disruption by a defender prior to this Sunday.

Those numbers suggest Dillon, who also made an impact in the passing game against the Seahawks with two catches for 62 yards, is transcending the 'power back' label assigned to him coming out of college and making himself at home in Matt LaFleur's offense.

That apparent ability to excel on both power and zone runs will be a necessity if the Packers are to stay on course to be the NFC's number one seed over the coming weeks without Jones, as they face division rivals the Minnesota Vikings on the road before welcoming the Los Angeles Rams to Lambeau in a rematch of last season's NFC Divisional Round clash.

Those are two different beasts in terms of run defense. The Vikings rank 30th in rush yards per carry allowed, giving up 4.74 yards per rush, while the Rams (4.15) are ninth going into their Monday Night Football clash with the San Francisco 49ers.

The formulas for winning those battles with two extremely talented offensive teams may therefore be different. Yet if Jones is out for both games, then Green Bay may need Dillon to make the most of a skill set that is more versatile than most thought to ensure the Packers do not become overly reliant on reigning MVP Rodgers.

Green Bay's process in picking Dillon so early remains questionable but, should he succeed in that aim in Jones' absence, you will not find many questioning the results.

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will undergo tests on the knee injury that saw him leave the field in the 17-0 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Jones is suspected to have suffered an MCL sprain in the closing stages of the third quarter after being tackled by Bobby Wagner, having racked up 86 scrimmage yards in the contest.

The Packers improved to 8-2 with a solid outing against the Seahawks (3-6) but it was a win that came at a cost, with defensive players Whitney Mercilus (biceps) and Rashan Gary (elbow) also going down.

If the initial diagnosis is confirmed at his MRI, Jones would miss time but likely still be able to return before the end of the season. Mercilus and Gary will also be tested on Monday.

"That's a big blow," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said to ESPN of Jones' injury, which he stressed he did not have an update on.

"It's hard to replace a guy like that. Just everything he brings to this football team on a daily basis. Just watching him out at practice, the effort that he plays with. 

"Here's a guy that, he's always the same. He's super consistent in his approach, his work ethic, his attitude, his energy. Yeah, you miss that when somebody's not in the lineup. 

"But other guys are going to have to step up, and we're going to have to do a great job as a staff of making sure that we supplement that in a different area, whatever that may be, whether it's throwing the football, and we've got to find ways to still produce without him."

A.J. Dillon, who impressed with 128 yards and two touchdowns to make the difference against Seattle, will be set for an increased role in Jones' absence.

The Packers welcomed back quarterback Aaron Rodgers from his coronavirus absence in the shutout win.

They are tied with the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans for the best record in the NFL going into the Week 11 divisional game at the Minnesota Vikings.

After turning in one of the worst performances of his NFL career, Russell Wilson insisted he did not return too quickly from his finger injury. 

Wilson completed just 20 of 40 passes for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times as the Seattle Seahawks fell 17-0 at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. 

The 32-year-old had missed the previous three games with an injury to the middle finger on this throwing hand that required surgery. 

Wilson's 39.7 passer rating Sunday was the fourth-worst of his 166 career regular-season and playoff games, and Seattle (3-6) were shut out for the first time ever with Wilson at quarterback.

Despite those ugly numbers, both Wilson and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said they did not believe the quarterback's finger was a factor. 

"My finger felt fine," Wilson told reporters. "I know myself really well. I know what I can and can’t do. I felt I could do everything tonight. I had some runs.

"The first third down, for example. If I was second-guessing my hand, I wouldn’t go for that, you know, getting hit like that. So I felt confident in my hand. I felt confident in all the hard work.

"I didn’t play timid, at all ... It was just a bad game. Those two plays, I mean, that really were the defining moments in the game." 

The two plays in question were a pair of second-half interceptions nabbed by Packers defenders in their own end zone, back-breakers for the Seahawks' hopes of winning at Lambeau Field for the first time since 1999. 

While Seattle's defence negated the first of those mistakes by returning the favour with an interception of Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, the Packers took advantage of the second pick by marching downfield for the touchdown that sealed the win. 

The Seahawks did take some measures to protect Wilson, who did not take any snaps under center, working solely from the shotgun formation to minimise the impact on his finger, but they also were up against one of the hottest defences in the NFL. 

Facing Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray the last three games, the Packers have allowed just 34 points. 

That track record was no consolation to Wilson, who blamed himself for critical errors Sunday but vowed to bounce back. 

"Unfortunately, it comes on my shoulders because I didn’t fulfil those two big plays in those two moments. I don’t want to shy away from it," Wilson said. "When you play this position at the highest, highest level there’s going to be some stuff you have to weigh on your shoulders.

“What I do know is, I’ll be better. I’ll be better. I always believe in myself. My confidence never wavers. It’s not going to waver now. I will be back."

After an emotionally charged couple of weeks, Aaron Rodgers finally had a release on Sunday as he walked off the field following the Green Bay Packers' 17-0 shutout of the Seattle Seahawks. 

Rodgers missed the Packers' loss at the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9 after testing positive for COVID-19 and has been at the centre of a public debate ever since. 

Though he was far from his best after missing two weeks of practice, reigning NFL MVP Rodgers was grateful just to be back in his comfort zone at Lambeau Field as he led the Packers (8-2) to another victory. 

"Good to be back with the guys, good to be back at home, good to be on the field, really," Rodgers told reporters via videoconference. 

"The most emotions from the whole night was probably walking off the field after the game. It definitely got me a little misty."

Asked why he thought he felt that way, Rodgers responded: "I don't take these things for granted, walking off the field as a winner." 

Rodgers completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards in his return, but the Packers' only touchdowns came on fourth-quarter runs by AJ Dillon. 

On a night that saw his counterpart Russell Wilson become the latest star quarterback swallowed up by the Green Bay defence, Rodgers threw a key interception in the end zone late in the third quarter but otherwise avoided major mistakes. 

"I felt pretty good for the most part," Rodgers said. "I feel like I played fairly solid. Obviously I had the one bad decision in the red zone and probably missed a couple of throws."

Rodgers did acknowledge afterward that he felt a bit like "Anchorman" character Ron Burgundy, merely repeating what Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur said via his headset to the team in huddles because he did not have a feel for the flow of the game after missing so much practice. 

The 37-year-old quarterback also told reporters after the game that he was tired – "It's been a long 10 days" – and LaFleur echoed that sentiment about the team as a whole. 

"I think our team is tired, to be honest with you," LaFleur said. "It definitely felt like you could feel the energy was maybe a little bit off." 

The good news for the Packers is their defence is showing no signs of fatigue. Facing Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray the last three games, the Packers have allowed just 34 points. 

"It's so important to be able to win games in different fashions in this league," LaFleur said, "and I thought our defence really carried the night."

It took Aaron Rodgers a while to find his rhythm as he returned on Sunday, but the Green Bay Packers' defence eased the way for him in a 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. 

Rodgers missed the Packers' Week 9 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19 and sat out practice all this week before being cleared to play on Saturday.

That rust was evident in his comeback as the Packers (8-2) could not find the end zone until AJ Dillon rushed for the first of his two fourth-quarter touchdowns with 10:37 to play in the game. 

Rodgers ended up completing 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards with an interception, but the good news for Green Bay was that Seahawks star Russell Wilson was even less effective in his own return.

Seattle (3-6) were shut out for the first time ever with Wilson at quarterback after he went just 20-of-40 passing for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times.

Wilson's 39.7 passer rating was the fourth-worst of his 166 career regular-season and playoff games following his comeback from finger surgery.

 

Panthers pound Cardinals in Newton's return

Just three days after signing with his former team, Cam Newton made an immediate impact for the Carolina Panthers as they handed the Arizona Cardinals just their second loss of the season with a 34-10 defeat.

Carolina drove deep into Arizona territory on their first two possessions of the game and sent Newton in to replace starter P.J. Walker at quarterback, with the Panthers favourite running for and passing for touchdowns on his first two snaps. 

Those scores put Carolina (5-5) on the path to a 23-0 half-time lead and Arizona (8-2) could not find a way back with Kyler Murray still absent due to an ankle injury. While his backup Colt McCoy played well in a Week 9 victory, he completed just 11 of 20 passes for 107 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against Carolina. 

Walker was 22-of-29 passing for 167 yards with an interception for Carolina, while Christian McCaffrey led all players with 95 rushing yards and 66 receiving yards. 

Week 9 saw the NFL world robbed of an extremely compelling quarterback matchup, Aaron Rodgers left to watch from home as the Green Bay Packers fell to defeat against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, Rodgers is set to return from his controversial coronavirus-enforced hiatus on Sunday at Lambeau Field, where he will face another likely future Hall of Fame quarterback set to return to the field.

Russell Wilson lived up to praise from head coach Pete Carroll, who described him as "one of the great healers of all time" after a finger injury suffered in the Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, surpassing expectations by recovering in time to lead the Seattle Seahawks against Green Bay as they bid to salvage their season.

The Seahawks are not dead at 3-5. Seattle enter the week just a game out of the final Wild Card berth; however, Wilson and Co. have little room for error ahead of a road game with a member of the NFC's elite.

It is a contest that may be decided by which quarterback can shake off the rust faster. Wilson has been on the sideline longer, but Rodgers will enter the game having missed two weeks of practice amid the fallout from his positive test and his comments around his vaccination status.

What other factors will play a role in determining the outcome of an enticing quarterback battle? Stats Perform digs into the numbers to answer that question.

Can Collins gash Packers on ground?

The Packers defense has quietly been one of the best in the NFL when it comes to limiting efficient production from their opponents.

Indeed, Green Bay rank fifth in opponent yards per play allowed, giving up just 5.27.

However, the Packers have proven susceptible to the run, with only six teams allowing more yards per rush than Green Bay's 4.55.

With Chris Carson still unavailable for the Seahawks, the onus will be on Alex Collins to take advantage of the Packers' apparent vulnerability on rush defense.

Collins has proven adept at making the most of his carries even on plays where the defense gets into the backfield. He is putting up 3.00 yards per carry on attempts where there is a run disruption, above the league average of 2.80.

His ability to excel in that regard could be key in getting the Packers' defense out of looks that have proven successful against Wilson.

Two-high looks could spell trouble for Wilson

In last week's loss to the Chiefs, the Packers played a significant amount of two-deep safety coverages to deal with the threat of Mahomes and a usually explosive pass game that has stuttered this season.

It worked as the Chiefs were held to just 13 points, and the numbers suggest Green Bay will lean on two-high looks again to try to slow down Wilson on his return.

When faced with Cover 2 this season, Wilson has delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball 80.0 per cent of the time; the league average is 83.4.

He has fared even worse against Cover 4 or 'Quarters', posting a well-thrown percentage of 72.4 (79.6 per cent is the average), and that number dips further to 62.5 per cent versus cover 6 (average 77.3 per cent).

Against Tampa 2, which is a variant of Cover 2 with a linebacker dropping into the deep middle at the snap, Wilson's well-thrown percentage is 75.0, again below the average of 82.7.

Wilson has already outperformed expectations by returning this quickly from injury and has made a career out of making the improbable possible. Yet, if Collins cannot succeed on the ground and force the Packers to bring a safety down into the box to stop the run, it could be a difficult day for Wilson facing coverages against which he has not excelled.

Seahawks must capitalise on Bakhtiari blow

The Packers had hoped to have David Bakhtiari back at left tackle, but he was listed as doubtful on the injury report as he attempts to make his return from a knee injury.

Bakhtiari's likely absence is a boost to a Seahawks defense that may see its best hope of slowing down Rodgers as being in their ability to get consistent pressure on the reigning MVP and magnify the impact of any potential rust.

While the Seahawks are a middle-of-the-road defense in terms of yards per play, in which they rank 16th (5.55), they are a top-half unit when it comes to creating pressure.

Their 139 pressures this season are 13th in the NFL and, in Rodgers, they are facing a quarterback who has proven particularly susceptible to opposing pass rushes in 2021.

Only team-mate Jordan Love (40.0) and Zach Wilson (53.7) have worse well-thrown percentages than Rodgers (55.2) when under duress among quarterbacks to have attempted 10 passes under pressure.

And Rodgers' pickable pass rate of 8.62 per cent under pressure is substantially worse than the average for quarterbacks (min. 10 attempts) of 4.82.

The spotlight will be firmly on Rodgers after a fortnight he will not forget in a hurry. It is the Seahawks, though, who enter the game with their backs against the wall, and it may take an instrumental performance from Collins and a potent pass rush to prevent Seattle slipping further towards playoff irrelevance.

Aaron Rodgers is off the reserve/COVID-19 list and should feature for the Green Bay Packers in Sunday's clash with the Seattle Seahawks.

Rodgers was absent against the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19. The quarterback is unvaccinated.

The Packers missed their talisman, with a 13-7 loss ending their seven-game winning streak. Green Bay have now scored seven or fewer points twice this season, tied for second most in the NFL.

They have, however, scored 24 or more in seven games, also tied for second most in the NFL, and Rodgers' return will provide a timely boost for the Week 10 meeting with Seattle, who have lost nine straight games against Green Bay in a run stretching back to 2003 (including playoffs).

Rodgers played in all eight of Green Bay's opening games and threw for 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

The 37-year-old does have a toe problem and has been added to the injury report, though does not have a game-status designation for this weekend, suggesting he should be fit to feature.

Earlier this week, the Packers and Rodgers were fined by the NFL after the league opened an investigation following the positive coronavirus cases, with wide receiver Allen Lazard having also contracted the virus. 

The review found that the pair had violated protocols by not wearing masks inside the Packers' facility and also by attending a Halloween party. 

Isaac Yiadom has also been taken off the reserve/COVID-19 list, while La'Darius Hamilton has been released by the Packers, general manager Brian Gutekunst confirmed.

The Seattle Seahawks activated star quarterback Russell Wilson from injured reserve ahead of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson has been sidelined since injuring the middle finger on his right hand during an October 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The one-time NFL Super Bowl champion was initially facing six to eight weeks out but has returned early, while rookie receiver Dee Eskridge has also been activated from IR, putting the Seahawks at near full strength for the Packers clash.

"He has had a terrific week," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday.

"You could see him just feel a little bit better as the week went on, but he really didn't hold anything back and he finished great the last couple of days and he's ready to go."

Wilson has started five games this season, with a completion rate of 72.0 per cent for 1,196 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

His injury ended a 10-year run of starts, the sixth-longest such streak of any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any QB currently active within the league.

Carroll added: "I expect him to [play] just like he always plays. I don't expect anything different. Not a thing different. He is pretty hungry to play football now. He missed it. So we've got to make sure that he stays clear and all that about this opportunity.

"If anything, I'm just worried that he's too excited, too amped up. But he'll be fine. Really, I'm just so impressed with how this thing has worked out and that he's gotten us to this point, and really fired up to see him play football."

Sunday's game, however, is too soon for running back Chris Carson, who is closing in on a return from a neck injury.

Before a bye last week, the Seahawks (3-5) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home 31-7. Seattle are 7-4 (63.6) in the first game coming off a bye week since Carroll became head coach in 2010, per Stats Perform.

DK Metcalf has eight touchdowns in the Seahawks' eight games this season. That matches the best mark by a Seattle player through the team's first eight games with Daryl Turner in 1985 and Metcalf himself last year. Metcalf finished 2020 with 10 total TD catches.

Seattle have 20 red-zone drives this season – third fewest in the NFL – but has scored touchdowns on 75.0 percent of those drives, second best in the NFL. The Packers' defense have allowed touchdowns on 76.0 per cent of red-zone drives, second worst in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks have activated quarterback Russell Wilson from injured reserve ahead of Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson has been sidelined since injuring the middle finger on his right hand during an October 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The quarterback was initially facing six to eight weeks out but has returned early, while rookie receiver Dee Eskridge has also been activated from injured reserve putting the Seahawks at near full strength.

"He has had a terrific week," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle. "You could see him just feel a little bit better as the week went on, but he really didn't hold anything back and he finished great the last couple of days and he's ready to go."

He added: "I expect him to [play] just like he always plays. I don't expect anything different. Not a thing different. He is pretty hungry to play football now. He missed it. So we've got to make sure that he stays clear and all that about this opportunity.

"If anything, I'm just worried that he's too excited, too amped up. But he'll be fine. Really, I'm just so impressed with how this thing has worked out and that he's gotten us to this point, and really fired up to see him play football."

Wilson has started five games this season, with a completion rate of 72.0 per cent for 1,196 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception.

The one-time Super Bowl champion's injury ended a 10-year run of starts, the sixth-longest such streak of any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any QB currently active within the league.

Sunday's game, however, is too soon for running back Chris Carson, who is closing in on a return from a neck injury.

The Green Bay Packers are expecting reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers to return against the Seattle Seahawks, but backup quarterback Jordan Love is ready to play.

Rodgers missed last weeks' 13-7 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs after the star quarterback was left on the sidelines, having tested positive for coronavirus.

The Rodgers-less Packers (7-2) fell short with Love under center in Kansas City, where Green Bay's seven-game winning streak came to an end.

While Rodgers has not practiced this week, the Packers are set to welcome back the 37-year-old on Sunday.

However, Love – who made his first career start against the Chiefs – is waiting in the wings to face the Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

"I think it's been a normal week for me, pretty similar to last week getting all the reps," Love, who was the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, said on Friday.

"Just getting the game plan in, preparing like I'm going to be playing and then obviously the plan is for Aaron to be back Saturday so he'll be going.

"But for me, it's the same. Still playing the whole week and then we'll be ready for whatever happens."

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur added: "Had a lot of conversations with Aaron in that regard as to what he needs to be ready to go.

"It wouldn't be the first time in his career that he hadn't practiced an entire week and gone on and played a game.

"So as long as he's confident with what we're doing with him, then we'll see where he's at tomorrow [Saturday]."

The Packers have won nine straight home games against the Seahawks dating back to 2003 (including playoffs). It is Green Bay's longest home win streak against any opponent since 24 straight against the Detroit Lions (1992 to 2014), according to Stats Perform. Seattle's last win in Green Bay was in 1999.

Green Bay have scored seven or fewer points twice this season, tied for second most in the NFL. They have scored 24 or more in seven games, also tied for second most in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson said he is close to "100 per cent" after returning from finger surgery.

Wilson is set to be involved against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, having been sidelined since injuring the middle finger on his right hand during an October 7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The one-time Super Bowl champion's injury ended a 10-year run of starts, the sixth-longest such streak of any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any QB currently active within the league.

But Wilson – who was initially facing six to eight weeks out – is gearing up for his comeback against the Packers.

"I wasn't going to take six to eight," Wilson told reporters on Thursday. "That wasn't in my mind."

"I've been blessed to be able to play all the games I've been able to play and all the things I've been able to do so far in this league," Wilson said.

"I feel like it's a new beginning, it's a new start and I feel like it's time to get going again all over again."

Wilson added: "I feel great. I feel really close. I'm not 100 per cent yet, but I'm pretty dang close. I would say 90th percentile if not higher. I feel great.

"I've got great conviction about what I'm doing, how I'm doing it. My mindset is better than ever. I'm ready to roll and ready to go."

Before a bye last week, the Seahawks (3-5) beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home 31-7. Seattle are 7-4 (63.6) in the first game coming off a bye week since Carroll became head coach in 2010, per Stats Perform.

DK Metcalf has eight touchdowns in the Seahawks' eight games this season. That matches the best mark by a Seattle player through the team's first eight games with Daryl Turner in 1985 and Metcalf himself last year. Metcalf finished 2020 with 10 total TD catches.

Seattle have 20 red-zone drives this season – third fewest in the NFL – but has scored touchdowns on 75.0 percent of those drives, second best in the NFL. The Packers' defense have allowed touchdowns on 76.0 per cent of red-zone drives, second worst in the NFL.

The NFL has fined the Green Bay Packers and their quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard for violating COVID-19 protocols and warned that further transgressions could result in more severe penalties. 

ESPN first reported the discipline handed down Tuesday by the league, which will cost the team $300,000 and the players $14,650 each. 

The league opened an investigation last week after Rodgers tested positive for coronavirus, which forced him to sit out Sunday's 13-7 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs. 

He and Lazard are not vaccinated, and a league review found that they violated protocols by not wearing masks inside the Packers' facility and also by attending a Halloween party. 

"We respect the league's findings and we recognise the importance of adherence to the COVID protocols to keep our team and organisation safe and healthy," Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement.

"We will continue to educate the team regarding the importance of the protocols and remain committed to operating within the protocols."

Multiple outlets said the league told the Packers they could face a loss of draft picks or drop back in the draft order if they commit further violations, and the players also could face more significant sanctions. 

 

Aaron Rodgers acknowledged Tuesday that people might have felt "misled" by him saying he was "immunised" against COVID-19, but he sought to turn the focus away from his decisions and back to the field. 

The Green Bay Packers quarterback missed Sunday's 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for coronavirus last week, and the revelation that he had not been vaccinated as many believed he had implied during the preseason ignited a firestorm of criticism. 

Rodgers sought to move past that in an appearance Tuesday on the Pat McAfee Show, though he continued to stand by his decision. 

"I'm an athlete, I'm not an activist," Rodgers said. "So I'm going to get back to doing what I do best, and that's playing ball.

"I shared my opinion. It wasn't one that was come to frivolously. It involved a lot of study and what I felt like was in my best interest for my body."

Under the NFL's protocols, Rodgers will not be able to practice with the Packers this week but he could be cleared Saturday to play in Sunday's home game against the Seattle Seahawks. 

He said he hopes the reception from the crowd at Lambeau Field, the only home he has known in his 17-year NFL career, will be the same as it ever has been whenever he next takes the field there. 

That would be a welcome change from the blow-back he has received over the last few days, which Rodgers acknowledged Tuesday. 

"I'm human, stuff can definitely hurt your feelings," he said. "But, look, I shared an opinion that is polarising. I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments.

"But, in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I'm about. And I stand behind the things that I said.

"I have a ton of empathy for people who have been going through the worst part of this pandemic, which has affected all of us in different ways, but so many people with, like I said, lives that were lost, lives that were forever changed, and I have a ton of compassion and empathy for those people. I have tried to help out as much as I can.

"The other stuff is so out of my control, and there's going to be people that don't like you, and hate you for things you said or might not understand what you said or know what you said and might've just seen a headline. And that's fine.

"I believe that people are entitled to their opinion, even if it's an opinion that's unfavourable to me."

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said he and his staff are preparing separate game plans that feature either Rodgers or backup Jordan Love starting at quarterback. 

Love struggled in his first NFL start, completing 19 of 34 passes for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a 69.5 passer rating, but Rodgers had nothing but praise for the 23-year-old. 

"I'm proud of Jordan. I thought he hung in there," Rodgers said. "The only thing I told him during the week was just to trust his feet because he is a very athletic guy.

"I thought he did a nice job of avoiding sacks, getting out of the pocket, making positive plays out of potential sacks. I might have got sacked in certain situations; he was able to elusively get out of the pocket there and have positive gains."

Patrick Mahomes believes the Kansas City Chiefs are close to being "the team everybody knows and loves" despite another poor performance on offense in Week 9.

The Chiefs improved to 5-4 in what has been a thoroughly unconvincing season from a team looking to win their third successive AFC Championship and atone for their Super Bowl LVI loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last term.

Andy Reid's team have endured struggles on both sides of the ball in 2021 but, while an often-porous defense stepped up to hold the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers to seven points, Mahomes and the offense continued to sputter. 

Mahomes was held to 166 passing yards, the second-lowest total of his career behind the 76 he had against the Denver Broncos in a 2019 game in which he suffered a knee injury.

But the 13 points the Chiefs scored proved enough for Kansas City to hold on and claim a crucial win and Mahomes does not think a return to the kind of explosive offensive performances that helped them become a juggernaut is far away.

"I feel like we're close," Mahomes said. "You can see drives here and there where we're the team everybody knows and loves, but you've got to consistently be able to do that throughout every single drive in a game. We're just not executing at a higher level. 

"I'm still extremely confident, I know we're going to find it as an offense.

"We have too many good players, we have too special of coaches in this organisation to not find it.

"The offensive line, I'm really confident in them, they're playing really good football these last few weeks. I expect us to start making plays here soon."

Though he is hopeful the offense will eventually resume normal service, Mahomes made it clear he is unconcerned with his individual yardage.

"I'd rather be walking away with a win than with a lot of yards, so I'm glad we got the win," he added.

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