Mike McCarthy has said the Green Bay Packers first quarter of the season was over after week 3, which both befuddles mathematicians everywhere and gives us a chance to evaluate where the Packers sit in the NFC.
A 2-1 start shouldn’t concern fans too much, but the inconsistency of the offense against the Vikings defense, and the lack of development in the secondary is causing many fans to pump the breaks on the typical Super Bowl expectations. So, what kind of competition are the Packers facing in the Conference?
The Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals are both off to 1-3 starts. With stellar defenses and offenses capable of putting up big numbers, the Panthers and Cardinals are both bad matchups for the Packers in the playoffs.
The Eagles and Rams are in first place of their respective divisions. There’s always a couple of surprise teams that push for the playoffs, and here’s to hoping Philly and LA do so. While the Rams pass rush will give any team problems, I would gladly take the matchup of the Packers top rushing defense against Todd Gurley and whatever Case Keenum can provide. The Eagles have looked solid so far, but Dom Capers excels at confusing rookie QBs, and the Eagles offense likely wouldn’t have much success against the Green Bay front 7.
The Cowboys are off to a strong start. Dallas will be a team that gets a lot of attention, but they’ve beat 3 teams that won’t be in the playoffs. They have a great running game, but that also plays into the Packers strength as a team. They didn’t do enough in the offseason to overcome a bad defense, Dez Bryant is injured and upset, and they will have a Quarterback controversy in a few weeks.
The Seahawks look good again. After struggling to get their offense going early, the Seahawks have looked strong on defense and in the passing game. Russell Wilson may not survive the season behind that porous offensive line, but the Seahawks always give the Packers fits, and it looks like they could be seeing each other in the playoffs.
The Falcons defense might be good enough. Atlanta spent a lot of money and draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, and it may be paying off. Julio Jones has been phenomenal this season, and the backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman has been giving teams trouble. The Falcons could be scary matchups in January.
The Vikings are for real. It’s time to face it – baby brother is all grown up. Minnesota has one of the top 3 defenses in the league, and they are led by a fantastic head coach. With that said, they have a terrible offensive line and a fragile Quarterback, so things can change very quickly. However, for the time being the Vikings are the class of the NFC, and the Packers will need to repair some holes to catch them.
It’s still early in the season and lots of things can change going forward. If you would have looked at the first 4 weeks of last season, most pundits would say the Packers were one of the best teams in the league (pre-offensive collapse). Injuries and schedules will play a major factor, but the Packers still find themselves in excellent shape to make the playoffs and compete deep into the postseason.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig