GREEN BAY, Wis. Randy Coffield Jersey Retro . - The Green Bay Packers are in playoff mode, even after a loss on Sunday at Buffalo clouded their post-season prospects.Breaking from the norm, coach Mike McCarthy had his players elect playoff captains Monday, six days ahead of a critical game at Tampa Bay. Usually, that voting isnt conducted until the Monday after the conclusion of the regular season.Were looking at this game as really the start of our playoff approach, playoff mindset, McCarthy said Wednesday. This is a road game that we have to have. We clearly understand the importance of winning in December, but we feel like we need to take it up a notch as a football team to make sure that we improve not only as a team but, most importantly, in the win column. This is a playoff-type preparation. We discussed it in the team meeting.Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Jordy Nelson were selected on offence, linebacker Julius Peppers and safety Morgan Burnett on defence, and Randall Cobb and Jarrett Bush on special teams.Of course, the Packers wont need playoff captains if they dont play better than they did in a 21-13 loss at Buffalo. If Green Bay wins at Tampa Bay and either Philadelphia loses to Washington or Dallas beats Indianapolis, the Packers will clinch a playoff berth. Beat Tampa Bay and then Detroit, which is tied with Green Bay for the NFC North lead, and the Packers will earn the division title and a coveted first-round playoff bye.Offensively, it starts with Rodgers bouncing back after what statistically was the worst game of his career. The Packers, who entered last week with the most points scored and fewest giveaways in the league, managed only one touchdown while turning over the ball twice.I think its a mindset of dealing with adversity in a positive way and pushing through it, and when the going gets tough, they say the tough get going, Rodgers said. (Being) mentally tough, I think, is a trait that allows you to overcome some rough performances, and thats what I rely on after a poor performance is my mental preparation and my mental fortitude.Its not only Rodgers whos looking to put last weeks performance behind him. The Packers dropped six passes after entering the game with only 17 for the season, according to STATS. The receivers didnt do any more ball drills than usual, Nelson said, and the only recourse was to move on to this weeks game.The focus level and guys working hard and trying to continue to improve (are the keys), said Nelson, who dropped what might have been a 94-yard touchdown that could have changed the outcome against Buffalo. Even though its late in the year, you cant start settling for where youre at, and theres always areas to improve each and every week, whether its individually or as an offence. I think weve got professional guys in here that take a lot of pride in our work, whether its in practice or if its in a game.That pride has shown up this season. After the Packers three losses, theyve bounced back to win by an average of 23 points. With a healthy Rodgers, the Packers havent dropped back-to-back games since October 2010. That starts with the leadership, McCarthy said, which is why he decided to elect playoff captains now rather than waiting a couple of weeks. Hes looking toward his leaders to take the responsibility of pushing this team past last week and into the post-season.Its that time of the year. Its the playoff time of the year, said Peppers, a quiet veteran who was added during the off-season. So yeah, if you want to say its that time to turn it up, then you can say that. Its an honour to be voted by your teammates. Any time youre voted captain, youve got to accept that responsibility and step up and be a leader.Added Nelson: Its an honour. Probably one of the higher honours you can get is when guys on your team look at you in that way. But theres also a responsibility and pressure with it, so I take that very personal and look to be a leader for this team and hopefully guide us on a playoff run.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL NFL Cheap Jerseys . -- Josh Smith made a 3-pointer as time expired and finished with 20 points to lift the Detroit Pistons to a 99-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night in both teams exhibition finale. Stan Olejniczak Jersey Retro .com) - The Toronto Raptors set their sights on a second straight victory with the Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the Air Canada Centre tonight riding a two game streak of their own.The Boston Bruins remain the top team in the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings, their third straight week ahead of the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. Holding that number one ranking doesnt mean that everything is flawless, as the Bruins did suffer back-to-back losses last week, but they rebounded with a solid win over Philadelphia Saturday afternoon and are healthier than most, if not all, of the top contenders. Surging into a playoff spot and getting Pavel Datsyuk back from injury helps the Detroit Red Wings move from 21 to 18, while the Carolina Hurricanes have been reasonably competitive, with one regulation loss in the past six, to move from 25 to 22. Heading the other way, the Los Angeles Kings fall from four to seven after one win in four games. The fall could be even more pronounced if defenceman Drew Doughty suffers ill-effects from a weekend upper-body injury. Without a regulation win in the past eight games, and with defenceman Mike Green sidelineed, the Washington Capitals slide from 17 to 20, while the Winnipeg Jets are down from 20 to 24, mostly because of injuries to right winger Dustin Byfuglien and defenceman Zach Bogosian. Jordan Bernstine Jersey Retro. The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their rankings slide, even after winning two of three last week. Losing goaltender Jonathan Bernier and left winger Joffrey Lupul for the season, contributes to the Leafs landing at a season-low 26, down from 23. The rest of the Canadian teams, coincidentally, all moved up one spot, the Montreal Canadiens are up to nine, the Calgary Flames, finishing strong, to 21, the Vancouver Canucks to 23, Ottawa Senators to 25 and Edmonton Oilers to 27. Yes, with one week remaining in the season, that leaves six Canadian teams ranked in the bottom 10. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. ' ' '