Are the Packers really an Elite Team?

Andy Lyons

EDITOR'S NOTE: We're all pretty ticked off about this game, and rightfully so. This is a good fan reaction that tries to balance the positives and negatives over the first three weeks of the year and put them into context. - Tex

This one hurts. No loss ever feels good, but this one will sting for a while. It'll sting this week, it'll sting through the bye week, and may come back and sting again in December when the Packers are battling for playoff position. It was a game that the Packers will feel they should have won. The Pack lost a sloppy game Sunday afternoon at Paul Brown Stadium that saw eight total turnovers, multiple cheap-shots, and a demonstratively upset Aaron Rodgers. No matter how we arrived here, at the quarter mark of the season the pack are sitting at 1-2 and looking up at the Lions and Bears in the NFC North.

After the week 1 loss to the 49ers, Acme Packing's very own Brendan Kennedy explored the "what if" problems that seem to follow this version of the Packers around. But is it time to consider whether it's not just "what if", but this team just isn't as good as we originally thought?

Let's start by recapping the two losses. In losing to the 49ers, the Pack allowed Colin Kaepernick to throw for 412 yard and 3 TDs and had no answer to slow down the 49ers offense - an offense that has looked pretty pedestrian the last two weeks (Colin Kaepernick is now 5-5-1 against teams not named the Green Bay Packers). Then came the loss to the Bengals, where the defense forced 4 turnovers and the offense failed to capitalize on the short fields. What's worrisome is the Packers are finding different ways to lose on the road to playoff-caliber teams. In Cincinnati the secondary did its part, holding Andy Dalton and high-flying WR A.J. Green down for most of day, limiting the Bengals' passing attack to 215 yards. However, the offense wasted 2 opportunities inside the Bengal 5-yard line, settling for 2 FGs by Mason Crosby. If it's not one thing, it's another--and sadly this team doesn't seem capable of overcoming adversity.

It would be easy to blame it on injuries -- the defense was clearly not the same without Matthews, Hayward, Burnett et al and the offense really missed Jermichael Finley's size in the red zone. However, the fact remains elite teams overcome injuries. The Packers only need to look back to 2010 to realize elite, Super Bowl-level teams don't let injuries slow them down.

What does this all mean?

I believe the Packers are still a very good team. The offense will certainly bounce back after this weekend, and is still elite. Not to mention, they seem to have found a real running game. The defense still needs work, but should be able to get healthy over the bye week and looked dominating for stretches against Cincinnati. Lastly, we used the 2010 Packers as an example of overcoming injuries and adversity, but we'd be remiss if we didn't include the fact that that team finished 10-6 and had to win its last game to make it into the playoffs.

To conclude, the sky is not falling in Green Bay. This team will learn from this loss and get better. To quote an overly used sports cliche--It's not how you start, but how you finish, and I'm not ready to write the Packers off just yet.

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