Packers are the real deal

Starting 5-1 is no fluke for the youngest team in the NFL, says PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh. Tevsh also suggests improvements that will help the team continue its winning ways in the final 10 regular season games.

Good NFL teams come in all different styles. The 2007 Green Bay Packers might not be the most fashionable or prettiest, but they are definitely worthy of grabbing attention.

Leaders of the NFC North with a 5-1 record at their bye week, the Packers are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the NFC. Just over a month and a half ago, a 5-1 record seemed like only a dream, but now it is a blissful reality. The Packers are at least in position for a special season.

So just how good are the Packers? Are they good enough to continue to win? To get to the playoffs? To get to the Super Bowl, for the love of St. Vince?

The Packers locker room right now has a buzz that would suggest all of the above are possible. A feeling like that can be more powerful than anything. Sometimes it can even cover apparent weak areas of a team, and the Packers definitely have their share of weaknesses.

There is still some lingering doubt that the Packers are as good as their record indicates based on the way they have won, but this scribe thinks that being able to pull out victories playing less than their best says more about the team than anything. As the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Charles Woodson, really speaking for the team, said last Sunday that the Packers have yet to play their best football. He is not alone. Head coach Mike McCarthy, for one, knows his team can play better. Just listen to his press conferences. Even quarterback Brett Favre, who always presents an honest point of view, has repeatedly said the offense has some work to do.

Whatever point of view taken, the Packers should be getting more love for being one of the NFC best teams. They are as good as their record, and by season's end, they still should be among the top three NFC teams.

Take a quick look around the conference. Outside of the Cowboys, no one really stands out. Sure, there might be a surprise team or two to emerge over the last 10 games, but it would be difficult to make a case that any are better than the Packers – in talent, in confidence, or in the standings.

To present cases where a team needs to improve, like McCarthy and Favre have, is a way of life in the NFL. It keeps teams grounded. Heck, even the seemingly unstoppable Patriots (6-0) and their head coach Bill Belichick eat some humble pie every week.

Packers' fans, and McCarthy and Favre alike, need to focus on what the team has done well and believe those things can continue to work on game days. If the Packers have done anything to become a good team this year, it is that they have overcome their faults and found a system that works. They have an identity and need to stick to it.

McCarthy needs to fight the urge to find balance on offense and continue to go with the passing flow that has gotten the team to this point. He must also trust that Brett Favre can continue to play well and make good decisions. And finally, the team needs to count on its defense to win the game each week, like it did last Sunday, keeping that thought in mind when managing each game.

The road for the Packers will get longer and tougher after the bye week. The Packers play six out of their remaining 10 games on the road including sneaky tough road games at Denver and Kansas City and visits to Detroit (on Thanksgiving) and Dallas. There will be losses, but those losses should not deter the team from deviating what has made them successful thus far.

Not every Packers' team can be like the one in 1996 or '97. Nor can it be the Patriots or the Colts. But this year's Packers' team is better than most people think, and it is time they start getting recognized as such.

Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.


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