THE FIFTH DOWN; Sunday Matchup

Bears (7-7) at Packers (13-1) 8:20 p.m., Eastern; NBC

Line: Packers by 13

Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) is out. Left tackle Chad Clifton (back) is easing his way back after missing two months; he has been limited in practice and is unlikely to play. The primary backup tackle, Derek Sherrod, is out for the season with a broken leg. Green Bay’s injury situation became so dire in its loss to the Chiefs that T. J. Lang took snaps at right tackle, a position he had never played, even in practice. ”It’s next guy up,” Coach Mike McCarthy said of the injuries, which is all well and good, except that the next guy might be Jerry Kramer. Health problems on the line can easily become health problems for Aaron Rodgers, but the Bears have played so badly in the wake of the Jay Cutler-Matt Forte injuries that the Packers could put a cardboard Rodgers cutout in the pocket and it would make little difference.

Pick: Packers

(Pick does not reflect the betting line)

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.

Once Beaten, Often Doubted, Packers Limp Into Game Against Bears

Dungy, however, is not Packers Coach Mike McCarthy. 

“I feel very good about our football team,” McCarthy said after his team’s first loss of the season, 19-14, at Kansas City last Sunday. “We’re 13-1. Our team clearly understands the roller-coaster ride that everybody likes to take you on. We knew the ride would just go that way. So it’s important to stay in touch with reality.”

The reality is the Packers, who had won 19 consecutive games — the second-longest streak in N.F.L. history — lost for the first time in the calendar year. A defense that finished second in fewest points allowed last season has not performed anywhere close to that level this season — the Packers are tied for 14th in points allowed. It had not mattered, however, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers leading an offensive juggernaut that until last week was threatening the N.F.L.’s single-season scoring record established by the undefeated New England Patriots of 2007.

, however, Rodgers completed less than 50 percent of his passes for only the third time in his career and was sacked four times. Kansas City rushed three or four players on about 80 percent of Rodgers’s dropbacks, playing press coverage on the receivers and keeping two safeties deep.

Whether that strategy can be used as a blueprint for beating the Packers in the playoffs remains to be seen, though Rodgers has an opinion.

“Well, I think it’s baloney,” he said. “They have a blueprint for winning any game. If you control the football, you don’t turn the ball over and you can shut the other team down on third down and hold them to 14 points, you should win the game. Other teams have played similar styles of coverages and ideas of rushing four and dropping seven or rushing three and dropping or playing man with two high safeties, and we beat those teams. We just didn’t execute well.”

The more pressing issue is injuries. Green Bay, which won the Super Bowl last year with six starters among 15 players on injured reserve, was unable to persevere last week.

Against Oakland on Dec. 11, the Packers lost the Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings for at least the rest of the regular season with a knee sprain. Against the Chiefs, right tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost for a week or two with a sprained kneecap. His backup, the first-round pick Derek Sherrod, broke his leg and will be out for the rest of the season. Already without the Pro Bowl left tackle Chad Clifton since Oct. 9 because of an injured hamstring, Green Bay’s offensive line will go into Sunday night’s game against Chicago without three of its top four offensive tackles.

Only center Scott Wells and right guard Josh Sitton will be at their usual spots. Marshall Newhouse will be making his 10th consecutive start at left tackle, left guard T. J. Lang play will at right tackle and by Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh on Thanksgiving — will take Lang’s spot at guard.

Considering than Rodgers, the problems up front could not have come at a worse time. Chicago’s front seven is anchored by Julius Peppers, who is one sack from being the 28th player in N.F.L. history with 100 for his career.

The Packers, of course, could run more frequently and turn to more quick-hitting passes to avoid the Bears’ rush, but that is typically not the way McCarthy operates. There is no greater evidence of that than the Atlanta game, when Bulaga was inactive and Clifton exited about five minutes into the second quarter. The Packers had 35 pass plays and only 7 runs with the backups before the final minutes of the game.

“Let’s say you’re going to throw the ball, and a team has a four-man line — there’s only X amount of ways you can figure out how to block those four guys,” the offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “We’re not going to change a whole bunch. It’s Dec. 22 and we’ve been at this since July 29, so we’re not staying up inventing new things. We think we have a sound offense, we think we’ve got sound protection schemes, but the foundation of it is if guys block.”

Lang said he expected McCarthy to call a typically aggressive game and to rely on Rodgers, regardless of who was blocking or who they were blocking.

“We have a mentality around here that when somebody gets injured, the next guy steps up and fills his spot,” Lang said. “That’s something, especially on the offensive line, that we take pride in is if you have to come in and fill in, we don’t want to change up the whole game plan. We’re expecting things to be the same. We trust in the guys we’re going to have out there and we trust in the game plan.”

Packers Lineman Raji Secures Win With Interception

“I’m like, B. J, you’re three-something,” said Bishop, referring to Raji’s weight. “I don’t really believe you.”

But after watching Raji slip into pass coverage, intercept a pass by the Bears’ third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie and rumble 18 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter — the deciding score in Green Bay’s 21-14 win over Chicago in the N.F.C. title game — Bishop decided Raji was not so crazy after all.

“He made a believer out of me,” Bishop said. “To drop back in coverage and get an interception, then run it to the end zone, I’m a believer.”

So, apparently, is Packers Coach Mike McCarthy.

“We’ve been using him on goal line,” McCarthy said, “so I guess now we have to throw him the ball, since he can show he can catch and score.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’s magnificent play has gotten most of the news media attention surrounding the Packers. But the defensive coordinator Dom Capers has quietly put together a unit that, despite key injuries, has been more than reliable. From linebacker Clay Matthews, with a third-generation pedigree, to the undrafted rookie cornerback Sam Shields, it is a unit that was fifth in the league in total defense and second in interceptions with 24 during the regular season. On Sunday, the Packers had three interceptions and limited the Bears to one third-down conversion in 13 attempts.

“We play as one,” said Bishop, a fourth-year player. “We’re one heartbeat out there with a whole bunch of talented guys. We never worry.” He added, “We know that somebody is going to make a play.”

But Raji? In coverage? Bishop could not remember that happening this season, and Capers was cagey when asked about it.

“We’ve got a few things where he’ll pop out there, but we don’t do it a lot,” Capers said, smiling. “It’s kind of uncommon to have a 340-pound guy roaming around back there.”

Then again, the Packers have already used Raji in one unusual role — as a blocker in their three-back, or bone, formation. That was how Raji got the nickname Freezer, a riff on the Refrigerator sobriquet given to William Perry, who lined up at fullback in goal-line situations for the Bears during their season in 1985.

But with a little more than six minutes to play Sunday and the Packers leading, 14-7, pass coverage was where Raji ended up. On a third-and-5 from the Bears’ 15, Raji said, his job was to read Hanie, then track running back Matt Forte if he ran a crossing route. So when Forte swung wide, Raji slid to his right.

“The running back came right to me, so I was right there for the play,” Raji said.

And suddenly, there was the ball, big as day. “I was just like, he really threw this?” Raji said. “All I had to do was catch it. I knew I was going to the end zone if I could catch it.”

Raji was so confident that he would score that he held the ball out in his right hand for the last 5 yards, a showy move that made Bishop recall Leon Lett’s botched fumble return in Super Bowl XXVII. Buffalo’s Don Beebe chased down Dallas’s Lett and knocked the ball loose as Lett held it in his right hand and neared the end zone.

“I kind of had a flash of that play where — was it Don Beebe who stripped it?” Bishop said. “I kind of had a flash of that when I saw them knock it out and we jumped on it.”

Shields, whose second interception of the game secured the victory with less than a minute to go, could not stop laughing. “That was real funny to me, seeing him with the ball in the air,” he said.

Even Raji had to acknowledge that, saying: “You never dream about having a touchdown as a nose tackle. It’s one of those things that ain’t in my head.”

Now with the Packers headed for the Super Bowl, Bishop could not think about anything else.

“It’s great for a D-lineman to do it, because it’s so rare,” he said. “And it was at a big moment. It was a great thing, and I’m happy for him.”