With Week 7 of the 2011 NFL season on the books, the Green Bay Packers enter their bye week with a perfect 7-0 record. And while it may be hard to point a clear No. 2 team in the league (which may go to the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and even the San Francisco 49ers, among others), very few people will make a case against considering the defending Super Bowl champions the very best team.
It's not like there are a lot of arguments to say there's a better team in the NFL right now than the Packers. Through seven weeks, the only undefeated team left in the league has crushed its opponents by a combined score of 230-141. Aaron Rodgers has tormented opposing defenses by completing over 71.5 percent of his passes for 2,372 yards, 20 touchdowns and a mere three interceptions for an insane 125.7 passer rating.
And it's not just him. You have to account for his offensive weapons. And their defensive stars.
Quite a problem, isn't it?
While we may all have to agree the Packers are definitely the best team in the league, is all the talk about them being unstoppable really justified? Are they really who we think they are?
Just a little food for thought on these past seven weeks:
- The Packers hardly have what could be considered a tough schedule. Outside of games against the New Orleans Saints, the uprising Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and New York Giants, they have to play with a lot of currently underachieving teams in the likes of the Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears. That's without considering games against the downright bad teams like the Denver Broncos.
- Through the first seven weeks of the season, they have faced the offenses currently ranked: second (New Orleans), fifth (Carolina), 18th (Chicago), 25th (Denver), 19th (Atlanta), 28th (St. Louis) and 21st (Minnesota). The average offensive output through the season for these teams is of 2,404 yards. Against these seven teams, the Packers have earned their place as the 27th-ranked defense, allowing 2,737 yards on defense.
- The Packers haven't faced an elite defense. The best one they have played is—surprisingly—the Carolina Panthers', which currently ranks 16th on total defense. Their other opponents are ranked 20th (New Orleans), 24th (Chicago), 21st (Denver), 19th (Atlanta), 30th (St. Louis) and 18th (Minnesota) in total defense.
- The best team they have faced is the New Orleans Saints (on opening day). Yet, fact is none of the teams they have played has entered the game with a winning record.
After bye week, the Packers will return to play the second part of their schedule, which will be harder, although not considerably, given the opponents they will face. Of their remaining nine games, seven are against teams that currently have a winning record: San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions (twice), New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears. However, only two of those teams have defensive units currently ranked in the top 10 (San Diego and Detroit). On the offensive side of the ball, only the Chargers are in the top 10.
The Green Bay Packers might truly be the best team in the league, but after this second stretch of the season, we'll get a slightly clearer picture on where they really stand. I see a team that has an opportunistic defense that generates turnovers but overall has a problem stopping opposing teams from moving the ball. That has made them rely on their offense putting the game out of reach, maybe a bit more than they would like. The problem will arise if and when they face a team that poses a challenge to Rodgers and his offense.
Sounds quite familiar, doesn't it? A team with a sick offensive output but a defense that allowed too many yards per game and relied on turnovers rather than stopping opponents?
We all know how that ended for the 2010 New England Patriots, when the New York Jets found a way to slow down their offense in the playoffs.
What do you think?