Top 10 Players Standing in the Way of the Green Bay Packers and 16-0
The Packers have four games to go before attaining the coveted 16-0 record. But of course, it is not going to be easy.
In the next four weeks, the Packers will face the 7-5 Raiders, who seemed to have regained their form after a struggling decade, the Chiefs, who may have lost their quarterback, but last week knocked down Green Bay's biggest rival in Chicago, and then, in the final two weeks, the Packers face two division rivals at home, the Bears and the Lions, both of whom will likely be vying for playoff spots.
In the next four games, the Packers are going to face some tough opponents and some tough players. For the Packers, one player making one big play could spell the end of the Packers' undefeated hopes.
Here are the top 10 players who may derail the Packers' hopes at a historic 16-0 record.
10. Dwayne Bowe
Dwayne Bowe might be the best receiver the Packers will have to face, with the exception of Calvin Johnson, for the remainder of the regular season. Despite the fact that Bowe is having to catch balls from Tyler Palko, he is still a talented receiver who can stretch the field like few others can.
The Chiefs offense has struggled some, but Bowe has put up solid numbers and is by far the Chiefs best receiving weapon. With a Packers defense that has given up big plays, a playmaker like Dwayne Bowe could become a big threat to the Pack in their Week 15 matchup against Kansas City.
The other problem is, will second-string quarterback Palko give Bowe the opportunities?
9. Brandon Flowers
Another strong player on a fearsome defense, Brandon Flowers has recorded four interceptions on the year, and though Aaron Rodgers has not given up a whole lot of picks, a talented corner like Flowers can certainly give Rodgers some trouble when passing the ball.
With Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs certainly have talent on their team, despite their struggles at times during the year. However, Bowe and Flowers aren't even the highest Chief on this list, as there is a teammate of theirs who is having an even bigger year; a player I will get to later.
8. Devin Hester
The Packers special teams have improved, but a player like Devin Hester can be a game-changer every time he has the chance to run a punt or a kick back.
Time after time, Hester has helped spark the Bears by running back a kick or a punt for a touchdown, and while punters and kickers are taught not to kick to Hester, it is still difficult to avoid at times. He is by far the best return man in the NFL, and has had success against the Packers in the past.
At this point in the season, an injury-ravaged Bears offense is going to have a hard time scoring, but Hester is still healthy and can still make some big plays on special teams to give the Bears a fighting chance.
7. Kamerion Wimbley
Kamerion Wimbley is quietly having a great year for the Raiders, as he has compiled seven sacks as well as an interception on the year. Wimbley is one of the best defensive players on the Raiders and can certainly cause some disruptions when he takes the field.
The Packers offensive line is beat up, having lost two of their best linemen in Josh Sitton and Chad Clifton, and certainly could find themselves trying to contain Wimbley, who could easily get a sack or two on Rodgers.
The offensive line is going to have to protect Rodgers from defenders like Wimbley, but Wimbley isn't even the biggest defensive threat the Packers will have to face for the remainder of the regular season.
6. Kyle Van Den Bosch
Kyle Van Den Bosch is another player who knows to get after the quarterback, but he's not even the biggest threat on the Lions defensive line (I'll get to him later).
However, Van Den Bosch has had a great year, recording six sacks and three forced fumbles, and is a player that Aaron Rodgers admits himself is a player that plays with an unmatched intensity, so intense that he wears red contact lenses whenever he plays, something that you can clearly see in this picture.
Van Den Bosch has had a great career and is continuing that career as a leader on a stout Detroit offensive line. He will certainly get after Rodgers, as long as Rodgers is still playing in Week 17, when the Lions rematch against the Packers on the final game of the season.
5. Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers is one of the best defensive players in football and has already proven that he could get to Aaron Rodgers; he did it in the NFC Championship Game.
Peppers got a vicious hit on Rodgers that could have easily taken Rodgers out of the game, but thanks to a little luck and a protective helmet, Rodgers continued to play, and the Packers moved on to Super Bowl XLV.
Peppers is a quarterback's worst nightmare, and if he takes Rodgers out of the game, it will seriously put the Packers' hopes at an undefeated season, and even their hopes at a Super Bowl title, in jeopardy.
4. Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali is arguably the best defensive player on the Kansas City Chiefs defense, and like many of the people on this list, knows how to get to the quarterback. This is evidenced in his eight-sack season, nearly tops in the league.
Hali is a menace for any quarterback, and when Rodgers comes to town, Hali is not going to let Rodgers have an easy day.
The Chiefs may be struggling on offense, but because they can't match the Packers offensively, their defense is going to have to get to Rodgers if they have any shot at all, and I expect the Chiefs defense to step up and play well against the Packers, as it will be the only way they have a shot of winning the game.
3. Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson is the biggest offensive threat the Packers will face. With the Chiefs, Bears and Raiders struggling at times on offense, in many ways due to injuries, the Lions may have the best shot at scoring points on the Packers, especially with such a talented reciever in Johnson.
The Packers defense has struggled to stop big plays, and Johnson, who is otherwise known as "Megatron," is one of the biggest playmakers in the NFL. Johnson will be a tough matchup for a Packers defense that has struggled this year, unless they can finally step up and contain him.
The one saving grace for the Packers defense is that they have done pretty well in keeping Calvin Johnson under control for the most part, doing a good job on Thanksgiving covering him. If they can do it again on New Year's Day, then they will be in good shape to win the game.
2. Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher may not be having a career year, but he is a key part of the Bears' defense. And perhaps more importantly, he plays Aaron Rodgers about as well as anyone has been able to.
Urlacher hasn't recorded any sacks on the year, but has recorded three interceptions, one of them which was a pick from Aaron Rodgers, in a play where Urlacher baited Rodgers into throwing an errant pass his way.
In the NFC Championship game, Urlacher picked off Rodgers and nearly returned it for a touchdown, only being stopped by Rodgers himself. Rodgers has said that Urlacher is one of his favorite defensive players to play against, as it is a constant chess match.
Urlacher may not be the guy who will take Rodgers out of the game, but he is a guy who can force Rodgers to make a key mistake at a pivotal point in the game.
1. Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh's antics may he his greatest weakness, but there is no doubt what he can do when he's on the field. He has drawn comparisons to the likes of Reggie White in terms of his athleticism and his relentlessness at getting to the quarterback. He is a young player with a lot of talent and a lot of passion, and as long as he learns to rein it in, he can be one of the most dominant players in the league.
As long as Suh doesn't do anything stupid after his suspension, he will be on the field in the final game of the year, which may give Mike McCarthy pause to play his starting quarterback in fears of the reckless defensive lineman getting to him. Suh has the physical ability, and sometimes it seems as though the desire to hurt players on the field, which could be dangerous for the Packers if they want to go on a playoff run after facing Suh and the Lions in Week 17.