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In danger of losing three straight for the first time in four seasons, the Denver Broncos face their former coach without their future Hall-of-Famer under center.

With Peyton Manning sidelined, Brock Osweiler makes his first career start Sunday when the visiting Broncos face John Fox's improving Chicago Bears.

 width=A season that looked promising has become concerning for Denver, which followed a 7-0 start by dropping two straight for the first time since September 2012 - the season after the Broncos last lost three in a row.

They'll try to avoid doing it again without Manning, who was benched last Sunday after throwing four interceptions in a 29-13 loss to Kansas City. A day later the Broncos announced that Manning has a torn plantar fascia in his right foot and coach Gary Kubiak decided to hand the offense over to Osweiler.

After allowing an average of 35.0 points during an 0-3 start, the Bears are yielding 21.5. Chicago gave up a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open Sunday's game, then held the Rams to 205 yards and two field goals in the 37-13 rout. The Bears did so without linebacker and defensive leader Pernell McPhee, who could miss a second straight game with a knee injury.

Rookie Jeremy Langford has rushed for 145 yards, caught 10 passes for 179 and scored three TDs while replacing the injured Matt Forte (knee) the last two games. It's uncertain if Forte will return to face a Denver defense that's allowed 56 points in the last two contests after yielding an average of 16.0 in the first seven.

Denver will have cornerback Aqib Talib back after he served a one-game suspension for poking Indianapolis' Dwayne Allen in the eye. Safety T.J. Ward, meanwhile, won't be suspended after being ejected for taking a swing at Kansas City's Jeremy Maclin.

DeMarcus Ware, who has a team-leading 6 1/2 of Denver's 32 sacks, could sit a second straight contest with a back injury.

>>Packers Face Stiff Road Test With Vikings Next

The Green Bay Packers have been the class of the NFC North for the past four years, while the Minnesota Vikings have been mired in mediocrity for much of that period.

It's the Packers that appear to be searching for some stability ahead of Sunday's battle for first place in Minneapolis, however, especially with Aaron Rodgers hurting.

 width=Green Bay (6-3) lost Sunday in one of the season's biggest upsets, 18-16 at home to a one-win Detroit team that hadn't earned a victory at Lambeau Field since 1991. The Packers failed to score at least 20 points for just the second time in their last 37 at home.

The team's third straight defeat was much different than the first two against Denver and Carolina, which are a combined 16-2. The Lions were coming off a 45-10 loss to sub-.500 Kansas City a week earlier.

Meanwhile, the Vikings (7-2) have won five in a row, surging to the top of a division the Packers are trying to win for the fifth straight season. No NFC team has done that since Dallas won the East from 1992-96.

Green Bay will be looking to avoid its first four-game skid since dropping five in a row in 2008 - Rodgers' first year as the starter.

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