PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush identifies three players or position groups on the rise as well as three players or position groups going in the opposite direction.
Green Bay ground game: Despite injuries that kept James Starks (ankle) out of the Raiders game entirely and also forced rookie Brandon Saine (concussion) to leave the game early, the Packers' 136-yard rushing output Sunday matched their season high against the Chargers back in Week Nine. After that game in San Diego, the Pack went into a ground-game funk until Sunday, when RB Ryan Grant carried the load (10-85-2). In his previous five games, Grant had only 35-87 rushing. Grant's 47-yard TD run that got Green Bay's offense going vs. Oakland was the team's longest run of the season. FB John Kuhn pitched in with 10 carries for 46 yards, as the Packers gained a most-impressive 5.7 yards per carry.
Packers' run defense: After having previous problems with big, physical backs (Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount particularly comes to mind), the Packers had very few problems holding Raiders bullish RB Michael Bush in check despite missing starting ILBs Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk for the second consecutive game. Bush was limited to 23-78 rushing (3.4 ypc).
OL Derek Sherrod: The Packers decided Sunday the time was right to give their first-round draft pick some meaningful minutes at left tackle in place of Marshall Newhouse, who has been adequate in place of injured veteran starter Chad Clifton. It seems this trend is likely to continue, especially since Clifton isn't showing any signs of being ready to return yet, and the team could have a problem if Newhouse should get hurt.
WR Greg Jennings: It remained to be seen at this writing just how severely the team's No. 1 wideout injured his knee vs. Oakland, but early indications suggest Jennings could be out for an extended period. The speculation entering Monday was that he suffered a torn MCL, which does not require surgery but generally requires 2-6 weeks of recovery time.
RB Brandon Saine: Just when it looked like the promising, undrafted rookie could be ready for his biggest day as a pro — he had a seven-yard gain before leaving the game — Saine was forced out of the game with a concussion. As is the case with Jennings, it's a bit too early to tell how long Saine might be out, but with Grant playing so well vs. Oakland, Saine suddenly seems like less of a reliable rushing alternative.
Protection for QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers was sacked three times Sunday and hit five times — a scary omen with more injuries stating to take their toll down the stretch. The hopeful return of ORG Josh Sitton (knee) next Sunday in Kansas City should help.