Green Bay Packers: 5 NFL Teams with the Best Chance of Beating the Pack
The Green Bay Packers have silenced all talk about a Super Bowl hangover. They are undefeated, and to be honest, they haven't really been challenged by anyone so far.
How are they so dominant? It starts and ends with Aaron Rodgers, who has emphatically put an end to the Brady vs. Manning discussion of who the best quarterback in the league is.
The Packers are playing so well that one thought is beginning to linger in the minds of many. It rings as a question and is often associated with jealousy. In fact, the thought comes in the form of one word.
So will the Packers go 16-0? Here are the five teams with the best chance to derail the Packers' hopes of perfection.
As an ominous portent, let it be known only one of these teams is left on the Packer's regular-season schedule.
5. Detroit Lions
That one team is the Detroit Lions.
It's very difficult to argue for the Lions. They don't have the tools to stop Aaron Rodgers. They don't have an absolutely lethal offense.
But they're probably a better candidate than anyone else in the league.
The Lions know the Packers well, and are reasonably talented on both sides of the ball. They have Calvin Johnson, who will inevitably score at least once against any opponent.
The Packers are such a well-seasoned team though, with a perfect mix of young and old. It's difficult to see a team as young as the Lions take down a team as savvy as the Packers.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Coming in at fourth is the team that faced off against the Packers in the last Super Bowl.
The good news is that they were only six points short last February. The bad news is that the Packers have gotten better.
However, the Steelers have defensive genius Dick LeBeau, and if their defense ever gets healthy, LeBeau might be able to throw some effective wrinkles at Rodgers.
Another thing that goes in the Steelers' favor is the game plan they used against the Patriots. The Steelers held possession for over 13.5 minutes in the first quarter. Frankly, Brady couldn't do much without the ball in his hands.
The Steelers have the personnel to execute a similar game plan if they face off against the Packers in a Super Bowl rematch this year. After all, as good as Rodgers is, he can't possibly do anything without the ball in his hands, right?
Unfortunately for the Steelers, carrying out such a game plan would involve slightly more effort than it did against the Patriots, given that the receivers would actually have a man within 10 yards of them on every play.
3. Houston Texans
The Texans have always had talent. They've been projected as playoff dark horses for seemingly the past five years.
This year, the Texans are quietly working towards a playoff bye.
The Texans have the talent to execute the same game plan described in the Steelers' slide. Arian Foster, Ben Tate and one of the best offensive lines in the league can chew up the clock. Matt Schaub can throw quick strikes to Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson.
The Texans defense has been the story of the season though. They've improved under Wade Phillips to be an aggressive, tenacious defense.
Despite the improvements, I don't think the defense alone will be enough to stop the Packers. But it certainly is enough to force a couple of three-and-outs and let the offense do most the of the defending by keeping the ball away from Rodgers.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Halfway through the season, it's Aaron Rodgers, not Vick, who is seemingly unstoppable. Rodgers has a QB rating of 129.1, which is simply baffling.
Meanwhile, Vick and his team are eating their own words.
The Eagles are attempting to shake off the arrogance that blinded them at the beginning of the season. They've openly shed the "dream" label.
In a sense, they're now the "redeem" team (reference to the USA men's basketball team intended).
It can't be ignored, though, that the Eagles may be the only team in the league whose talent matches the talent of the Packers. Vick and LeSean McCoy lead an offense that can score in bunches, and the Eagles have arguably the most talented corners in the league and a lethal pass rush.
And they're a humble, hungry team now.
Are the Eagles who we thought they were? If they can topple the Pack, then they may very well be.
1. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have emerged as the consensual second best team in the league.
They've done this with an efficient offense that doesn't blow your mind away and the best defense in the league.
As I've stated before, the Packers are such a seasoned team with an incredible blend of youth and seasoning. The 49ers are one of the few teams that match the Packers in this department, particularly on defense.
The 49ers won't need an offensive explosion to beat the Packers. They'll need their offense to produce like Christian Ponder and the Vikings did against the Packers in Week 7.
And then they'll need their outstanding defense to hold up its end of the bargain.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have the coaching and offense to give the Packers some trouble, but there's no conceivable way in the universe that Rodgers doesn't take a stroll through Mister Rogers' neighborhood against the Patriots defense.
It's a similar story with the Saints as with the Patriots. And anyway, the Packers have already beaten the Saints, so it wouldn't be as speculative to list the Saints.
I can't trust that offense to keep up with the Packers.
Maybe half of the Packers roster will show up for this one. And then Peyton Manning sneakily returns. Or maybe Brett Favre signs one day before the game in a final attempt to get the better of Aaron Rodgers.
Will we see Aaron Rodgers frolicking weightlessly with Mickey Mouse again this year?
Only time will tell. But at this point, I'm not even sure if the AFC Pro Bowl team would be enough to topple the Packers.
Disagreements? Questions or thoughts? Feel free to comment below.