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Cheese Curds, 12/23: Packers defense slowly regaining health

Clay Matthews says his injured shoulder feels better than it did last week.

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Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers continue their march towards an NFC North title this week against the first of two divisional opponents. While momentum appears to favor them, the NFL landscape can quickly change, shifting the outlook considerably. After all, the Packers appeared dead in the water just four weeks ago.

To prevent a downturn in their prospects, Green Bay would surely like for its defense to improve. That can only happen if some of their injured stars begin to heal, starting with outside linebacker Clay Matthews.

Clay Matthews' sprained shoulder feeling better |

Clay Matthews acknowledged last week that his shoulder will likely require surgery in the offseason, but that doesn't necessarily mean it can't improve in the interim. Given that he has only played 40 percent of the team's defensive snaps over the last three games and hasn't registered a sack in nearly a month, any progress could prove to be a boon to the defense.

Packers' supplemental run game explodes vs. Bears |

Come for the detailed breakdown of Ty Montgomery and the Packers rejuvenated run game, stay for the spotlight of Lane Taylor juking a defender out of his shoes.

What was the best Packers team of all-time? |

Comparing teams of vastly different eras rarely result in any consensus. The 1962 Packers certainly make a strong argument for themselves, not least of which is the 11 members that ended up enshrined in Canton. Still, the NFL had fewer teams and no true free agency at that time, which necessarily affects how one considers those squads. For what it's worth, the 1996 Packers own the second-best total DVOA (42 percent) of any Super Bowl champion in Football Outsiders' records, which go back to 1989. That team also had the league MVP, Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre.

James Starks' SUV was hit by semi in crash |

As most of you probably know, James Starks missed the Packers' game against the Chicago Bears and most of this week's practices while dealing with a concussion sustained during a car accident. What you may not have known is the severity of the accident, which involved a semi tractor-trailer driven by a man later charged with "inattentive driving." The Range Rover Starks drove incurred extensive damage as a result. That he should fully recover seems like a minor miracle.

Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. He covers the NFL for Sports on Earth and SB Nation. He also serves as the senior writer and editor for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog.