In 2010, the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. In 2011, the Packers went 15-1.
And now, in 2012, the Packers are starting to look like both of those teams, after a slow start.
Green Bay lost to San Francisco and Seattle (in a controversial game) early on, and they had some close games with teams like Jacksonville and Detroit. But now, they are finding their form, and they have proved that in the last two weeks.
The Jets and Titans battled to a close game on Monday Night Football, then the Packers obliterated the Titans 55-7. Aaron Rodgers "only" threw three touchdowns, as Green Bay racked up four touchdowns on the ground.
The offense is balanced and starting to help out Aaron Rodgers, who is in the midst of another great season. Ryan Grant and DuJuan Harris have done a nice job, and the offensive line isn't performing as terribly. As for the defense, well, they're starting to pick things up.
Green Bay is in the top 10 in total defense, and they have allowed an average of 19.9 points per game, good for seventh in the league. Clay Matthews has helped, as he is sixth in sacks with 12, even though he has only played 11 games. And Casey Hayward has been big, intercepting six passes and boosting the secondary.
Talent and experience is all over the secondary, with Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams and Morgan Burnett all around. The linebacking corps is amazing, with A.J Hawk and Clay Matthews. And the defensive line has been great, considering Green Bay is third in the league with 46 sacks.
Obviously, these impressive numbers mean nothing if Green Bay can't win games. But they have 11 wins, and they resemble the team that won Super Bowl 45 in many ways. The defense is stellar, Aaron Rodgers is dominating (he leads the league in passer rating) and the team is finding help from a lot of sources.
If Green Bay can ride the wave of momentum that they have built into Minnesota next week, they will come out on top and with a first round bye. That would pit Green Bay up against a team like San Francisco, Seattle or Washington, which is a game they can win.
San Francisco came into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers 30-22 in Week 1. But that's unlikely to happen again, due to the changes and injuries in San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick is at quarterback, Mario Manningham, Kendall Hunter, Vernon Davis, Kyle Williams and others have been hit with the injury bug, David Akers is struggling mightily, and the team as a whole is struggling to find its rhythm.
The 49ers are just 5-3 on the road, and they have been outscored by New England and Seattle 73-23 over a period of under six quarters. Alex Smith played the first game against them, and he dominated, posting a 125.6 quarterback rating. But Smith won't be playing the second time around, and Kaepernick was rattled by the Seattle Seahawks crowd.
I would give the edge to Green Bay against the 49ers. And I'd give them the edge against any team, as well.
Seattle and Atlanta are both beatable. The Falcons look very flawed, and they are 23rd in total defense. Plus, the Packers have had their way with Atlanta the last two times they have played in the Georgia Dome. Green Bay would have Seattle at home, a luxury they didn't have in Seattle's controversial Week 3 win.
The Seahawks are 7-0 at home, but they are just 3-5 on the road. They feed off of the energy provided by their rambunctious crowd, but they won't have that luxury in Green Bay. The Packers will be motivated if they play, and I think the Packers would beat Seattle quite easily.
No team at this point seems to be able to match Green Bay. The Giants trounced Green Bay, but that was in New York, and the Giants are also a long shot to make the playoffs. The Packers are rolling right now, and no one has what it takes to stop them.
And, if they keep going like this, no one in the NFC will stop them.