Since all four teams have eight games under their belt (the Packers and Vikings have played nine each), it was time to do some Power Rankings for the division.
Let's start from the premise that every one of you will be unhappy. Or at least most of you.
That's how Power Rankings work.
That's fine. Going into this I know 75% will think me nuts, while 25% will agree with the 75% but not say anything because this week they are happy.
In putting together my power rankings, I take a few things into account. None of it is personal preference, by the way.
I take into account their actual records, head-to-head games, common opponents, momentum and overall team health and depth.
And my own opinion, of course.
Despite that, I willingly admit you will not all agree with these. That's fine, and I expect your thoughts in the comments section.
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Yes, the Vikings are last. But for what it's worth, only by a smidgen.
A team which started off red hot has not only cooled but collapsed as of late.
The run defense has fallen apart, as has the overall tackling. The quarterback is a mess. Percy Harvin is hurt while the rest of the receivers are so absent they might be imaginary.
The bright light at the end of the tunnel might be a train or might be Adrian Peterson,because Peterson is a monster.
If they ride Peterson, things might be okay, but the rest of the team has to catch back up. They have done it before—this season no less—and Peterson can be the fire to get them going again.
It's not too late, but this team has slipped the last month, looking less hungry, determined and focused than they did in their initial run.
They just passed the Vikings, but let's be honest—the hold on #3 is tenuous at best.
The injury to Calvin Johnson is an issue, but the offense is showing it is capable without him scoring touchdowns. They are still inconsistent and Matt Stafford hasn't quite gotten over his early issues but they are definitely pulling it together.
However, to paraphrase a bad Michael Bay flick: This @#$^ is about to get real.
Over the next eight games to finish the season they play Green Bay twice, Houston, the Vikings (who they lost to already), the Bears and Falcons.
Not only will the offense be tested but the defense—which has had more than a few lapses—had better be consistent and reduce both mental errors and penalties.
The secondary especially has to pull it together, though health is as much the issue for them as anything else.
I'm definitely concerned by the injuries on the defense in general—Clay Matthews and Nick Perry both being down is a blow, as is Charles Woodson—but if Bryan Bulaga is down for any length of time things could be ugly.
The bye week comes at the right time as there are so many banged-up players on both sides of the ball, it's ridiculous.
This is the Packers, though, and they scoff at injuries. They have depth and it is being tested, so far to little bad result.
They have some tough games coming up though and they may find themselves running low on players before long if guys can't get—much less stay—healthy.
Luckily Aaron Rodgers is just insanely good and hasn't missed a beat as he strikes up chemistry with Randall Cobb and James Jones to replace injured Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings.
They are slowly crawling up behind our number one team, who had best be looking over their shoulder.
I'll explain as I dodge bits of cheese.
The Packers beat the Bears earlier this season and that counts for something. I also get that some of their games haven't exactly been against Alabama.
That said, this is the best defense in the division, and possibly the league. It's fierce, opportunistic and deadly.
The offense has started to get going as well. We knew what they had in Matt Forte (and now, it seems, they do as well). Brandon Marshall is just about unstoppable at this point. Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are contributing.
This is not the same team the Packers whupped in Week 2, not even close. The second meeting between these teams will be a much different affair, regardless of the outcome.
The Bears also have one thing the Packers don't—health.
While they have lost a few players to injury, for the most part this is a team which isn't dealing with a lot of banged-up players. Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery is out, but back soon, and Brian Urlacher is playing through knee issues, but otherwise this team is in good shape.
That could make the difference down the stretch.
The Bears get Houston this week and we should get a real idea of what they are made of by the end of the game.
Win or lose, the Bears had better bring their 'A' game, or they could get leapfrogged by the team on a bye.