In a game that pretty much lived up to the hype, the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots 26-21.
It wasn’t easy, but anything in the NFL rarely is. The game on Sunday featured the top two teams in the power rankings, and with the victory, there is no doubt that the Packers (9-3) are number one in the league right now.
But just what is the potential for this 2014 team? A division championship? An NFC championship? A Super Bowl? I say yes to all three.
Sunday’s game compared the Packers to the top team in the AFC, but in order to reach the Super Bowl, we’re going to have to see how this team ranks against the top contenders in the NFC.
So let’s see who their competition is shaping out to be.
After 13 weeks, the teams left in the playoff race include the Arizona Cardinals (9-3), Philadelphia Eagles (9-3), Atlanta Falcons (5-7), Detroit Lions (8-4), Seattle Seahawks (8-4), Dallas Cowboys (8-4), San Francisco 49ers (7-5), and New Orleans Saints (5-7).
First, I’ll start with the lowly NFC south.
Even though the Packers have already lost to the Saints this year, I don’t see them losing to them again, especially if the game is played at Lambeau Field.
Both the Falcons and Saints are fighting for the fourth seed and neither team has proved they can win consistently. They both have struggling defenses that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would tear to shreds.
The Packers should earn a top two seed, so it is almost certain that either team would have to travel to Lambeau. So just like every other team that has visited the frozen tundra this season, they most likely will not be leaving with a victory.
Next, let’s take a look at the other division leaders, the Eagles and Cardinals.
The Packers already proved that they can handle the Eagles high powered offense, and I can’t imagine a different result if these two teams played again.
The style of defense the Eagles play, which is man to man on the receivers, plays into the Packers strengths especially since the Eagles don’t have the kind of corners it takes to cover receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson.
The Cardinals are quickly falling after two straight losses and are pretenders in my book. They are a good team but are not great in any particular area.
This team has just lost too many players to suspension and injuries, the biggest being quarterback Carson Palmer. The Pack should be able to handle Arizona without a problem.
Next are two teams that the Packers have struggled with in the past, the Seahawks and 49ers.
Even though the 49ers are 7-5, they have struggled significantly this season with injuries and off the field distractions. They are in third place in their division and it is a long shot that they will even make the playoffs.
However, if these two teams were to meet, I’d have to pick the Packers due to the struggles of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He is in his third year as a starter and fails to develop as a QB. He shows flashes of great play, but cannot consistently put up the numbers it takes to succeed in this league.
The Seahawks are a different story. They are the defending Super Bowl Champions and their defense is returning to the form that they were at last year. They have already beaten the Packers, but there is a glaring weakness to this team that has been visible all season. They have a very weak receiving core.
The Seahawks traded away receiver Percy Harvin earlier in the season who was the x-factor in the week one matchup between the two teams. Add that to the fact that the game will most likely be played in Lambeau, advantage Packers.
I’m not even going to humor the Cowboys yet because they need to prove to me that they can first make the playoffs and not go 8-8. They are 8-4 right now so this is their chance to silence the doubters.
Finally, there is division rival Detroit Lions. The Lions are notorious for folding down the stretch and shooting themselves in the foot.
Last year they were 6-3 and in prime position to take the division with Rodgers hurt, and what did they do? They finished 7-9.
They have a strong defense, but their offense continues to struggle under the play of quarterback Matthew Stafford. They have yet to prove that they can take advantage of the weapons they have on both sides of the ball.
The Lions did beat the Packers in week three, but that was a completely different team than what the Pack have today. In order to prove themselves they will have to travel to Green Bay in week 17 and try to beat the Packers in a place where they haven’t won since 1992.
The Packers will go back to Lambeau to take on the Falcons in their one and only Monday night game this season. It is time for this team to follow up on what was their toughest game of the season and work towards the number one seed in the NFL. They will most likely have to win each remaining game in order to accomplish that, but I believe they can.