Back in first place

Lo and behold, what have we here? The Green Bay Packers are back in first place in the NFC North. I have to admit I didn’t think it would happen this early if at all. Thanks to the Chicago Bears excellent effort last night the Packers are all of a sudden in the driver’s seat. Not only in the division but maybe the NFC.

With only three losses there are only two teams with better records in NFC – the Falcons and 49ers. The Falcons have an incredibly easy schedule down the stretch so the Packers won’t likely catch them but the 49ers are within reach as they play at New Orleans this week and have road trips to New England and Seattle left on the schedule. A trip to Atlanta isn’t all that daunting anyway, worked out pretty well the last time.

Of course that all depends on the Packers taking care of business the next few weeks. While the Bears have an easy schedule as well, I think the Packers will beat them in Chicago December 16th to end their hopes. Also, the Bears are on the road the last two weeks of the season, at Arizona and Detroit, and I don’t think either game is a gimme. A big disadvantage for a cold weather team not to have a home game in late December.

It’s hard to believe the Packers could win out, but I think their hardest game on the slate is this Sunday in New York, and I feel fairly confident about that one. The Packers have a little score to settle and the Giants are starting to feel the Super Bowl hangover. I could see the Vikings knocking off us once, and since I will be there, probably at Lambeau Field. Another game I walk home in the third.

I am concerned about the Packers’ offensive line without Bryan Bulaga. It was a mixed performance at best against the Lions tough defensive front. Head coach Mike McCarthy took much of the blame for that by saying he called a bad game, but I’m not so sure that was the problem. The offensive line will need to play a better game next week if the Packers are to beat the Giants. The G-Men can be had if they can’t get to the QB.

The Packers’ defense, while only ranked 16th in yards are still 10th in points and doing it with a makeshift staff. I really think the lockout last year was much more hurtful for the defense than it was for the offense, and all the offensive records set last year in the NFL bear that out. The Packers’ defense is playing well and it doesn’t have to rely on turnovers to get off the field, they are making stops when they need to.

I am getting very close to raising confidence level to high. A win in New York might just do it.

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