Packers perfection is realistic, but potential bumps are ahead
With 10 games remaining on their schedule, of course it's way premature and patently ridiculous to start speculating on the Green Bay Packers' chances to go through the regular season a perfect 16-0. And of course we're going to do it anyway. Premature speculation comes with the job when you cover the NFL these days.
Detroit's loss at home to the 49ers and Green Bay's 24-3 conquest of the visiting Rams left the 6-0 Packers as the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team this season, which at least makes for nice symmetry given that Mike McCarthy's guys are the defending Super Bowl champions. It's worth noting the 2007 Patriots and 2009 Colts didn't have that bit of mojo in their favor when they made their recent runs at perfection, nor did the 1972 Dolphins of 17-0 fame for that matter.
Remarkably enough given their long and storied franchise history, this is Green Bay's first 6-0 start since the 1965 season, the year before the Super Bowl era opened and also the last time the Packers were the NFL's last undefeated. But that record has always been a harbinger of ultimate success for the Packers, because all previous six times they've accomplished it, they've gone on to win the league championship that season (1929, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1962 and 1965).
Assessing the Packers' chances to run the table this season from the vantage point of mid-October doesn't seem quite so absurd when you consider they haven't lost a meaningful game since Week 15 of 2010, that Sunday night showdown in New England where the Patriots were fortunate to escape with a 31-27 victory against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers. Green Bay's 12-game winning streak (including playoffs) ties the longest streak in team history (set in 1961-62), no small feat for a franchise that boasts the coaching eras of Lambeau, Lombardi and Holmgren.
In the preseason I picked Green Bay to defend its Super Bowl title and earn a second consecutive ring, but chasing a perfect season in the process obviously would add an exponential degree of difficulty to the task. And that's before we even know if Green Bay would go for it, chasing history in the mode of the '07 Patriots, or shying away from perfection in late December like the '09 Colts. As you no doubt recall, neither story ended particularly well.
But here goes, a week-by-week assessment of the Packers' 10 remaining regular season games, broken down into the pros and cons of each particular situation: Why they will win one; and Why they might lose one. In a season in which Green Bay so far appears to be the league's clear-cut dominant team, the Packers' march to 16-0 might be the only real drama that 2011 produces.