The Green Bay Packers are undefeated so far this season and have won almost every one of their games definitively. This authoritative winning is completely new for this team of young players.
Even though the Packers won the Super Bowl last year and became World Champions, they almost didn’t even make it to the playoffs. The Packers got into the playoffs by winning a wild card berth on the final day of the regular season and then had to win three games on the road in order to even make it to the Super Bowl. Even though I know there is little chance that they will go undefeated for the whole season, here are four reasons why I think they will still be able to keep the Lombardi Trophy in Green Bay:
1) Health – Last year’s team was severely depleted with injuries. From Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant on offense to Atari Bigby and Nick Barnett on defense, the injured reserve list each week almost looked like an All-Pro roster. In the playoffs last year, they were using third and fourth string running backs and wide receivers because of the injured starters. There were so many hurt that there was a squabble whether to go ahead and take a team picture at the Super Bowl or wait till some more of the first string injured players made it into town. This year’s team so far has been able to avoid the injuries that almost derailed last year’s team.
2) Defense – No doubt about it, the Packers defense is stout! But for as good as they are, they seem to really turn it on in the second half. Most of the Packers games have been close until halftime or even the end of the third quarter. When the defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, gets a feel for what the other team’s offense is trying to do, he is able to make adjustments to shut the offenses down.
For example, during the game against the Falcons earlier in the year, they were playing a lot of Cover 2 and Cover 3 in the first half and then Capers made an adjustment to man-to-man in the 2nd half and shut down the Falcons offense and held them to only 14 points the entire game (which is a touchdown below their season average). With defensive studs like Clay Matthews (15 tackles), AJ Hawk (19 tackles), BJ Raji (11 tackles, 1 sack) and Charles Woodson (19 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown and 1 fumble recovery), it is a tough unit to be consistently successful against.
3) Used to Winning – Plain and simple, they are used to winning. Winning is not something that they are have to get accustomed to, but rather what they expect every time that they step on the field. Their fans expect them to win, their coaches expect to win and they expect to win.
This isn’t something that you can coach. Winning is something better caught than taught. This is one of the most “steeped in tradition” franchises in the NFL; from their legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, to the “frozen tundra” of Lambeau Field.
4) Aaron Rodgers – Aaron Rodgers is a prolific National Football League quarterback. After a stunning career at University of California, he waited several years riding the bench behind future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Once Aaron got his chance, he unquestionably took advantage of it and made the most of his opportunity. He has the swagger, moxie and experience to lead this team to another title. The team along with the fans has full confidence in the fact that Rodgers can take over a game if he needs to with his confidence and precision passing. And what is not to have faith in? Rodgers leads the league in QB ratings with a 122.9 (Tom Brady is second with 109.5). He also leads the league in completion percentage (71.7%), yards per pass attempt (9.56), and passing Td’s (14) [all stats as of 10/14/11].
What Could Stop The Packers?
It definitely won’t be an easy road for the league’s only publically owned team. In fact, with the Detroit Lions playing so well right now, and the Lions and Packers being in the same division (NFC North), they might have to go to the playoffs through another wild card berth.
But I think you will be seeing Coach Mike McCarthy raising the Lombardi Trophy come February.
Anyone bought their tickets to the championship parade yet?