Packers are NFL’s best right now

The NFL standings are beginning to take shape as we hit mid-October and approach the midpoint of the season. And as the standings make themselves clearer it is becoming apparent which teams will be in the playoff picture, at least for the most part. In particular, if you tuned into your Direct TV NFL package for this past week’s games, you probably noticed one thing: the Green Bay Packers are making a strong case for being the only truly dominant team this year, and it’s starting to look like it will take a monumental effort for someone to dethrone the defending Super Bowl champions.

Heading into the week, most fans and analysts would have listed just a handful of teams under the heading of “dominant” or “Super Bowl contender.” The Packers, of course, would be among these teams, having coasted to a smooth 5-0 record heading into the weekend’s 6th round of games. The Lions, too, were undefeated heading into the week. Additionally, many have felt that teams like the New Orleans Saints (4-1 heading into the weekend) and New England Patriots (4-1 as well) were looking strong enough to potentially contend for titles.

This Sunday, however, the picture shifted a bit in favor of the Packers being the only team identifiable as “dominant.” The Lions suffered their first loss of the season in a tense game with San Francisco (which has quietly built up a 5-1 record of its own!). The Saints dropped a game against Tampa Bay, and at 4-2 will now have to remain more focused on contending within their division than in the league as a whole. And the Patriots – while they wound up earning a win and getting to 5-1 – needed a late comeback at home to repel the Dallas Cowboys. The Packers, meanwhile, coasted to an easy win against the St. Louis Rams, solidifying themselves as the last remaining unbeaten at 6-0.

So, what has the Packers leading the league in such a methodical way? Aside from substantial talent and considerable youth, you need look no further than quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has passed for an impressive 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns through 6 weeks (stats according to espn.com). If last season’s Super Bowl victory didn’t convince you that Rodgers is every bit as effective as the legend he replaced in Brett Favre, watching a single game this season may do the job – Rodgers is spectacular, and there’s no denying it. Add in one of the league’s best rushing defenses, and the increasingly undeniable genius of Coach McCarthy, and it’s no wonder the Packers are leading the NFL. It’s a bit of a jump to make predictions in week 6, but this team looks primed to repeat.

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  • Cody
  • @dev_eq

    YOTTOdos

  • http://Orlando Mark

    There’s a saying in Proverbs, pride goeth before the fall. I’d love for all the hype to be true but it isn’t, our deficiencies are pretty glaring. Maybe they’ll be corrected with Neal, Zombo and So’oto having a chance to heal and the run game finding itself. However, the best thing about this team is it’s ability to overcome adversity and I expect a lot of that before this season is over.

    • Deek

      On Defense, if Ponder is starting, I’d like to see an 8 man box. I don’t want AP to beat us with a 200 yard game. Let them try to beat us passing. LOL

      On offense, double-team Jared on all offensive pass plays, PERIOD! Let’s not get beat with 7 or 8 sacks.

      • I Luv Brats

        If I see that stupid mixer celebration by Allen even one time, I’m gonna puke.

        I like your idea of having Ponder trying to pass on us…..no way will he be able to.

      • iccyfan

        Both my fantasy QB’s are on bye this week and I’m thinking Ponder might be a sneaky good play. I agree the Packers defensive game plan should be to sell out and stop AP cold, seeing if Ponder can find the open man. With Nick Collins gone, Morgan Burnett wearing a club, Sam Shields concussed and Tramon still ginger with the shoulder, our defensive backfield appears susceptible. Having said this, I’ll never pick up Ponder because I can’t root for a Viking (even in fantasy), but I hope Jarrett Bush comes ready to play on Sunday!

      • Elle

        I think we’ll see more base defense with 7 men in the box on early downs rather than running nickel personnel and stacking 8.

        I definitely don’t see us running base 3-4 with 8 in the box, that would be overkill even against AP. They’d torch us in the secondary. Even a rookie QB. Look at Freeman, Newton, Bradford, etc.

        • Ed Schoenfeld

          I think they do exactly what Capers has been doing most games — play cover defense out of the nickel with Woodson mostly in the slot corner/box safety position. They’ll get burned by a few passing plays when they use the 5th Db against the run, and by a few running plays when all the D-backs cover, but they will tighten up when the red zone gives them a shorter field to defend and Capers will eventually win the chess match.

          Now I don’t think they will be able to do that every game, but AP notwithstanding the ViQueens aren’t good enough on offense to make Gren Bay pay, and not good enough on defense to stop Rodgers and Co. forever. As for better teams, Shields, Woodson, Williams and Matthews eventually have to get healthy at the same time, or at least I hope so.

  • Pierre

    Wondering if Ponder can be successful against Green Bay in his first NFL start at quarterback? Look no further than Caleb Hanie, Bears back-up QB during last years’ playoff championship game. He shredded the Packers secondary and surely had every GB fan a bit scared and amazed! If it wasn’t for that mistake he made on the Raji interception for a TD he might of lead the Bears to a victory and even looked like he might overcome that error with a super passing effort. So yea…a first start QB can throw well against the Packers…so be prepared GB.

    • I Luv Brats

      Your argument is very valid but you’re forgetting something important. Hanie has been with the Bears since 2008 and this is Ponder’s first year. A couple of years experience, even if it’s being a backup, makes a huge difference.

      • Elle

        Also our gameplan was based on Cutler, whom is a pocket passer. Hanie plays better out of the pocket.

        • Ed Schoenfeld

          There is that. I think the better comparison might be Newton, where the Packer D played very vanilla to start and got torched a few times — until Newton revealed his tendencies and Capers+Co victimized him for 4 turnovers.

  • Larry

    This is a trap game if I ever saw one. There is no way the Vikes should be in this game BUT there’s some match-ups here that I don’t like. Jared Allen will move up and down the line, double teams are going to be difficult unless there’s a back staying home and reading him. Bush will start at nickel…against a rookie looking for short quick throws and check downs…can you say “target”. I think an 8 man box is the wrong approach. Burnett can’t wrap up so giving him a shot at AP is a recipe for disaster. Let AP get his 100+ if he can against 6 but leave people in place to limit the BIG run. There’s a better chance for a pick if Ponder has to throw against zone or man with over the top help.

    Obviously a fast start like the St. Louis game changes everything but the dome noise will make play changes tough. I’m thinking Grant/Starks will have lots of opportunity early helping to set up play action and Finley should be an early target as well.

    Keeping momentum from their D is key.

  • Rick

    Green Bay just needs to dictate the game. Get up early scorewise. Take away the run game. Make the QB have to make perfect throws. And no Green Bay turnovers.

  • JeffN

    I don’t want to get ahead of myself and predict the 2nd SuperBowl (2nd of the 3 I predicted back when TT, MM and Rodgers took over) this year.

    For now let’s just enjoy the moment. It will be truely joyful to watch our Pack crush the hated Vikings. The only thing that will be missing will be the Minnesota crowd chanting FIRE CHILLY!!!. That was a truely monumental moment in Packer Lore!

  • I Luv Brats

    Trap games are for the weak teams. Overall, Green Bay is a very strong team.

  • roy jamison

    The recent Carson Palmer trade…age 31…reminds me of a similar Packer trade by one Daniel Devine. credit to blogspot
    Packers’ Coach Dan Devine’s trade for Los Angeles Rams quarterback John Hadl after the sixth game of the 1974 season is one of the most infamous in Packers history. Devine gave up five draft picks — a first, second and third in ’75 and first and third in ’76 — for the 34-year-old veteran. Hadl would play just 1-1/2 seasons for the Packers, throwing 3 touchdowns and 8 interceptions for a 54.0 quarterback rating in 1974 and 6 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for a 52.8 rating in 1975. Devine resigned at the end of the ’74 season.

  • Larry

    At what point would one call the Palmer trade fair? If Oakland/Palmer makes the playoff the next 5 years does that make this a good deal. Does it take one SB appearance or a SB victory? Valuing players and trades are sooo subjective. Frankly if the draft choices given up yield 2 more JaMarcus Russells, Gallery’s or Heyward-Beys’ Oakland is better off with the trade!

    My question is what would TT have done had Oakland offered a 2 or better for Matt Flynn whose contract expires the end of the year?

    • Rick

      Oakland gave up a lot but they have a team on the up swing in a weak division. If they did not move to aquire a talented QB then they give up on the opportunity this season has given them.
      If they do produce a playoff season then this trade is great.

      Next season sees them with Palmer vs. Campbell for the starter and and the loser is an extremely good back up.

      Kyle Boller is gone and Terrelle Pryor can be groomed and develop for a couple of years.

      So to recap
      Jason Campbell was aquired for a 4th round pick from Redskins

      Terrelle Pror was selected 3rd round of upcoming draft.

      Carson Palmer is aquired from Bengals for a 1st and 1st or a 1st and 2nd

      They have given up a reasonable amount for two starter quality QBs and a developmental player.

    • http://Orlando Mark

      Great article by Andrew Brandt about the Palmer trade. It highlights why a coach should never be a GM. One wants to win now at any cost. The other has to look at a bigger picture. Brandt worked under Wolf, Mike Sherman and TT so he’s seen both situations. He also correctly pointed out that after the new CBA, draft picks are much more valuable financially as well as having little chance of a disruptive holdout. Look how quickly rookies signed this year. Luck could hold out to go to a more desirable team like Elway but this is a once in a decade problem.

      • http://jlworden1@suddenlink.net LarryAz

        Screw Elway forver. Crybaby!

    • dave76

      I think both teams may be winners here depending on how quickly Palmer learns the system and the team. Bengals are already thrilled with Daltons potential and the fact the Bengals are 4-2. ( Last year, 4-12?) And the Badger fans remember Dalton well from the Rose Bowl last year, he could be around a long time in the NFL.

  • Larry

    In the end it boils down to great drafting. Oakland didn’t get it right a few years ago with JR and Cincy did with Dalton allowing them to move their disgruntled and aging signal caller for some high picks.

    Back again to praising TT and his staff for a job well done!!

  • Steve Cheez

    Sad news about Gale Gillingham.

    • Rick

      Prayers to his family.

  • roy jamison

    What a sad coincidence. I was just talking about the bad deal Dan Devine makes and here comes the death of one of the greatest players the Packers ever had. And, Devine switched him from guard to defensive tackle. He tears up his knee and is never the same. Did Devine make it as one of the worst coaches in NFL history list?
    Here’s a website on Gale. May his family be comforted by our prayers. God bless you Mr. Gillingham.
    http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/128848353.html

    • http://Orlando Mark

      The worst part of the Devine madness was that someone decided he should be the GM as well as the coach. I don’t remember anyone taking credit for that catastrophe. I do remember Gillingham being a bright spot in a bad era.

      • Ed Schoenfeld

        Actually, the Coach being the GM was normal at that time — Lombardi, Bengston, Devine and Starr all held both positions. Not sure about Forrest Gregg. They brought in a different player personnel guy with Braatz and Infante, but the first real split of full GM authority from the Head Coach position was with Ron Wolf and the Walrus.

        That development was a little behind the rest of the NFL, but not by much. You still had HC/GM combos as late as the mid-90s with Parcells in New England. Belichek’s Patriots are interesting in that there is a separate GM, but the Coach is clearly in full charge of the operation. So there is more than one format that can be successful, depending on the talent and discipline of the individuals involved.

        • http://Orlando Mark

          The legend of Lombardi is a big part of why we kept doing GM/coach combos long after that was shown to not work. Lombardi wasn’t the man who brought in the talent he won those championships with and his selection of our next coach was a loser. Parcells was better at it but he’d never get an Exec of the year award. Holmgren was fired as GM in Seattle he was so bad, etc.

  • iccyfan

    We went to our local high school football game last evening and stopped by a friend’s home afterwards. Another guest is a local realtor and like me, he’s a huge Packer fan. He tells me there was recently some sort of realtor recognition party at the Coralville (IA) Marriott and he dropped in the bar to grab a couple beers. Ted Thompson was sitting alone, eating a late dinner and watching the Brewer game. Dave approached him and they watched a few innings together; Ted evidently does this every season, spending a couple days watching practices in Madison and then winding his way down to Iowa City for more of the same – said he’s rarely recognized outside Wisconsin and enjoys the anonymity. Nothing earth-shattering in the story – just kinda cool to confirm Ted still sneaks away and gets back to his roots without an entourage…

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      FWIW Wolf used to do his own scouting in fall as well. I think it’s a superior operation where the guy pulling the trigger at the draft has evaluated at least some of the prospects on his own, but geez the guy is sure a workaholic :-)

  • http://jlworden1@suddenlink.net LarryAz

    Don’t really want to niggle Mark’s point, but suggest he study how many of those years were with a team he DID build. He made a lot of in-out trades he might have overlooked.

    • http://Orlando Mark

      I don’t want to take anything away from Lombardi. He was obviously a truly great coach. But coaches want to win now and when they aren’t great they can really screw up a team like Devine did.

      • http://jlworden1@suddenlink.net LarryAz

        Absolutely, do Bears and Vikes come to mind?