Are the Green Bay Packers for Real?

Torey ZiskaCorrespondent IIAugust 29, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 28:  Linebacker Aaron Kampman #74 (R) of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammate Brady Poppinga #51 after scoring a defensive touchdown during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 28, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

At the beginning of the beginning of the 2007 NFL season, no one really knew what to expect from the Green Bay Packers. Four weeks into the season, there was no question anymore; the Packers were for real.

Some guy named Favre had led his team to a 4-0 start and broke the all-time touchdown pass record. The Packers continued to play well all season and were just a play away from facing the New England Patriots in the Superbowl.

The following season, despite the ugly exit of the aforementioned Favre, the Packers had high expectations, even with a quarterback that had seen about as much of an NFL field as yours truly.

Unfortunately for Packer fans, 2008 was not what they had hoped for. The Pack finished with a record of 6-10, and were arguably the greatest 6-10 team in the history of the NFL. Of those 10 losses, Green Bay lost seven of them by a grand total of 21 points.

The Packers led in every fourth quarter of those seven games, but were unable to play defense late in games.

Despite the poor record, there was a lot of positives for the Packers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for over 4,000 yards, 28 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 93.8.

So as the 2009 preseason begins to close, the Packers find themselves with a 3-0 record. Their first string defense has given up just one touchdown, and as a team they have 16 takeaways and eight sacks in the three games.

But the improved defense is only part of it. The Packers first string offense has gotten even better, if thats possible. Against the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, the Packers put up 38 first half points. Rodgers completed 14 of 19 passes for 258 yards and three TDs (those are great stats for an entire game, let alone just two quarters).

So the question remains, are the Green Bay Packers a legitimate contender in 2009?

The answer is yes.

First of all they play a very favorable schedule. Second of all they play in the NFC North. Yes the Chicago Bears added pro-bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, but whom exactly is he supposed to throw to? Yes they still have a top running back in Matt Forte, and a fairly imposing defense. However I still don't see the Bears being a real threat to the Packers.

If anyone is going to threaten the Packers, it's going to be the Minnesota Vikings. However I still believe the Vikings best chance to win is with Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.

After watching Brett Favre finish last season with the Jet's, there is no way he can handle a full season, and it is only going to hurt the Vikings chances.

That leaves the Detroit Lions. Do I really need to explain why they won't give Green Bay any problems?

So with the fairly weak division, the easy overall schedule, and the switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense thanks to bringing in Dom Capers, the Green Bay Packers are a legitimate contender for 2009, provided they are able to stay relatively healthy.