Anyway, with the Saints' improbable run after going 3-13 last season, it got me thinking what it would take the Packers to reach next year's Super Bowl. The obvious is Brett Favre returning, but after that there are some areas where the team must become better. Looking for the answers to this, I look no further than the NFL's final four teams — New Orleans, Chicago, New England and Indianapolis. There are reasons all remain alive, and after watching each of these teams, each has something the Packers need. With that in mind, let's start with the AFC teams:
New England: What can't the Packers use from this team? Knowing I can only pick one item, I would go with coach Bill Belichick's brain. A while back he was a failure in Cleveland and there was a sign at one game that read: "Beavis and Belichick."
Something must have happened once he left the Browns, because since taking over at New England he has become the modern day Vince Lombardi. He has guided the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in the Pats' last four postseason appearances. He takes scrapheap wide receivers like Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney and makes them look like game-breakers. Yes, I know it helps to have Tom Brady.
Also, Belichick loses players like Deion Branch and Lawyer Milloy and it has no effect on the team. Nothing against Packers coach Mike McCarthy — he had a good first season — but having a coach like this always makes you a contender.
Indianapolis: Think of the Colts and you think of offense, so I would choose the Colts' wide receivers — Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Is there a better duo in the NFL? They have been the NFL's best receiving tandem for about the last five seasons and form the NFL's best passing game with Peyton Manning at the controls. The unique thing about this twosome is they never switch sides when lining up for a play. Harrison is always on the right side and Wayne is always on the left side. It has created great chemistry in the passing game. Beyond that, both have great hands and makes play after play. They benefit from having Manning, but they also have developed into great players because of their own skills.
Chicago: The Bears' special teams might be the best in the NFL. Devin Hester might have been the best rookie this season and he wasn't a scrimmage player, for the most part. The defensive back from Miami (Fla.) returned six punts/kicks for touchdowns this season, making him a better Fantasy Football pick than some starting offensive players. He doesn't need much of a hole to go the distance and getting special teams touchdowns in a day and age when the NFL has so many close games means a lot.
Charles Woodson was solid for the Packers, and didn't muff nearly as many chances as Hester, but a gamebreaker like Hester is wanted by all 32 NFL teams.
Also, kicker Robbie Gould is as automatic as they come. He made a 49-yard field goal in overtime to beat Seattle in an NFC Divisional playoff. He might be the best kicker in the NFL today. If you have reliability like this in a kicker, it takes pressure off the offense from having to score TDs.
Dave Rayner was solid in his first season with the Packers, but Gould was better.
New Orleans: The Saints' running game comes at defenses in different ways. They can pound you with Deuce McAllister up the middle or they can throw speed and quickness at you with Reggie Bush. Furthermore, Bush caught 88 passes this season to set an NFL rookie RB record.
Because they're different, they complement each other so well, giving defensive coordinators headaches. Who would you rather have to defend? New Orleans can beat a defense up with McAllister and then when battered and tired, give the ball to Bush via run or pass and he looks faster than he actually is.
So in conclusion we have added Belichick, Harrison and Wayne, Hester and Gould and McAllister and Bush. Realistically, a team cannot add this much talent, but it's nice to dream. All this shows is the Packers need to work this off-season to get to Super Bowl XLI. It starts with Favre, but he needs help.
Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.