GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Still trying to make sense of one of the toughest losses in his successful tenure as Green Bay Packers coach, Mike McCarthy made it clear what his struggling team must accomplish.
Speaking Friday morning, a day after the Packers were embarrassed 40-10 by the Detroit Lions, McCarthy feels the Packers must win their remaining four games.
"I would think so, yes," McCarthy said.
Even that might not be enough to get the two-time NFC North champions back in the playoffs. Winless in its last five games (0-4-1), Green Bay is in a big bind going into the final month of the regular season. The Packers have tumbled from the top of the division to third place with a 5-6-1 record.
Not only is Green Bay trailing NFC North leader Detroit (7-5) by 1½ games, the Packers have never reached the playoffs with a sub-.500 record after 12 games since the NFL expanded the schedule to 16 games in 1978.
McCarthy didn't downplay the predicament facing his team.
"Oh, we're in a hole," he said. "We felt like we were in the hole going into the Detroit game. We've got two division losses and a tie. That's not where you want to be."
The Packers are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008, when they had a five-game losing skid late in the season and finished 6-10. That was Aaron Rodgers' first year as the team's leader on offense.
Green Bay doesn't play again until it hosts the last-place Falcons on Dec. 8, but McCarthy isn't sure if Rodgers will resume playing then. The star quarterback has missed the last four games because of a broken left collarbone.
Rodgers was cleared to practice on a limited basis earlier this week and did some throwing on the field Tuesday and Wednesday.
He told ESPN's Bob Holtzman before Thursday's game that he hopes to play on Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Rodgers told ESPN that he is not completely certain that his fractured collarbone, which has not been X-rayed recently, is completely healed. The former league MVP said he is concerned about his strength and flexibility -- and he thinks he will regain them in time to return against the Falcons.
When asked Friday whether Rodgers has a chance to play against Atlanta, McCarthy replied, "I don't know that."
"I just know when we came off the field Wednesday that he wasn't ready to play yet," McCarthy added. "So, we'll see how the testing goes. But it needs to be the right thing. I know he wants to play, I know he's trying to gear up each and every week to play, but we'll see what happens next week."
Led by their formidable front line, the Lions sacked Matt Flynn seven times and held Green Bay to a season-low 24 yards rushing.
Flynn, the fourth starter at quarterback for Green Bay in the last five games, also had three turnovers.
"We got drilled by a very good football team that played very well,'' McCarthy said. "So we'll take that hard lesson, swallow, they'll be accountable for it, and we'll be ready to go when Atlanta comes in here.''
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.