Green Bay Packers: Why It's Too Early to Talk About an Undefeated Season
The Green Bay Packers are now 5-0, after a 25-14 road win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers trailed 14-0 early on, but responded with 25 unanswered points to beat the Falcons for the second time in 2011 at the Georgia Dome.
Green Bay outgained Atlanta by 175 yards on offense. Aaron Rodgers threw for 396 yards and two touchdown passes. Twelve different Packers made at least one catch in the game, tying a franchise record set in 2003.
Packers are now 5-0 for the seventh time in franchise history. Those previous six teams went on to win an NFL championship.
While a Super Bowl title will remain the goal of the 2011 Green Bay Packers, the team will begin to receive more attention each week as their win column increases and their loss column remains unchanged. It has happened to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and even the Tennessee Titans in recent years. Announcer Al Michaels briefly mentioned it at the end of the broadcast for the Packers-Falcons game—the possibility of a perfect 2011 season for the Green Bay Packers.
This is something only three NFL teams (1934 Chicago Bears, 1942 Chicago Bears, and 1972 Miami Dolphins) and one AAFC team (1948 Cleveland Browns) have accomplished in the history of professional football.
Other NFL champions have come close to perfection, such as the 1962 Green Bay Packers and 1985 Chicago Bears. The 2007 New England Patriots won their first 18 games and were minutes away from 19-0 before the New York Giants' David Tyree's miraculous catch in Super Bowl XLII.
How many regular season games will the Packers win?
While the Packers have been impressive in their first five games, a lot can change between now and the end of December. Injuries are always a factor. This was a big setback for the team last season, despite their Super Bowl triumph as a wild card team.
Nick Collins has already been lost for the season, and it's difficult to predict which other players could be out of action on a week to week basis. Also the NFL is the league of parity, where conceivably any team can be beaten in a given week. Green Bay was favored heading in to their game in Atlanta, but struggled early in the game before their dominate comeback effort. This was similar to their game against the Carolina Panthers earlier this season.
The Packers have a great chance to be 7-0 heading in to their bye week. They host the St. Louis Rams in their next game, before a road game at the Minnesota Vikings. However, their schedule will only get tougher in the second half of the season.
Aside from the Packers' home games with the Vikings and a visit to Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs, the rest of their schedule will be played against teams with strong playoff chances. After their bye week, they host the San Diego Chargers. Then the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving followed by the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders in consecutive weeks. All three of those teams are contending for division crowns at the moment.
Their final two regular season games may be at home, but they will be far from holidays against the Chicago Bears on Christmas and the Detroit Lions on New Year's Day. Either team may need a win to clinch a playoff berth at that point, while the Packers may have home-field advantage secured and looking to rest their starters.
Four Green Bay Packer teams (1962, 1996, 1997 and 2007) have won 13 regular season games. The 2011 edition has a great chance to surpass that total and win at least 14 games.
Talk of an unbeaten season for the Packers will increase as long their loss column remains at zero. There isn't much hype or discussion about it now, but the speculation will continue to grow if the bid for perfection goes in to November and December.
However, as long their amount of lost games is zero, the goal for Mike McCarthy and his team will be to finish the year like those previous Green Bay teams that started out 5-0, rather than hyped teams that didn't win a championship let alone finish their season with a perfect record.
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