What do you think? Will the Green Bay Packers go to the Super Bowl because Aaron Rodgers after four weeks is beginning to heat it up? Is it because rookies Kevin King and Josh Jones have shored up the defensive backfield? Maybe you like the way the defensive line and linebackers have surprised us by snuffing out opponents’ run games?
None of those are the biggest reason I’m optimistic the Packers will go all the way this time around. My top reason: there is simply no dominant team out there standing in their way.
Sunday’s week 4 games provided a wealth of evidence to support my theory.
Going into the season, the New England Patriots were the consensus choice as the league’s top team. Even after the Patriots’ week 1 throttling by the Chiefs – at home – it looked like that was an aberration when they bounced right back with two easy wins. But then on Sunday – and again at home – a decent, but not highly regarded Panthers team served them up with another loss. The Patriots don’t have the look of immortality this season.
Yeah, but Packers fans got a good look at the Atlanta Falcons in week 2. Atlanta appeared to pick up where they left off when they let a Super Bowl win slip through their fingers in February. So what happens on Sunday? The Falcons fall to the Bills – at home, no less.
A smattering of delusional enthusiasts have big hopes for the Vikings this year. Well, they had their chance to make a statement – at home – against the Lions. Neither team, however, showed the type of passing attack needed to go deep into the playoffs. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford barely reached 200 passing yards and he had no touchdowns. The Vikings Case Keenum was back to being ordinary. Stafford finished with a passer rating of 81.2 and Keenum was worse, at 76.9. That won’t cut it.
In an event, you can put a fork in the Vikings – rookie star rusher Dalvin Cook suffered an apparent ACL tear in the game – they’re done.
The Cowboys have some big talent, but we got a clue they also had some big problems when in week 2 they were demolished, 42-17 by the Broncos. That apparently was no fluke, because on Sunday they went down to the L.A. Rams – yes, in Dallas. The Rams took control of the game in the second half, outscoring the Boys 19-6.
Who’s left to contest for the Lombardi Trophy? The Pittsburgh Steelers are well-positioned at 3-1 to make a run, but how good can a team be that lost to the Bears in week 3?
The Chiefs will be gunning for their fourth straight win in their Monday night faceoff with the Redskins. They look at this point to be the top team in the AFC. The good news, though, is that if the Packers wind up facing Kansas City this season it will be in the Super Bowl.
I have to admit the Rams have been impressive, and they just looked good again in handling the Cowboys. I wonder, though, whether any 4-12 team has ever managed such a turnaround in the space of one year. This is a team that hasn’t experienced a playoff game since 2004.
Through four weeks, I’m not about to declare that the 2017 Packers are a “super” team, but it doesn’t look like anyone else in the league is either. That renders this season a golden opportunity for some solid and opportunistic team to win it all.
It will most likely be a team with a record of winning their home games, with a roster of players who are rich in playoff experience, and with an MVP-level quarterback – preferably one’s who’s been there before.
Ladies and gents, I present to you the 2017 Green Bay Packers.