No doubt there probably were some skeptics nationally who have been in denial about Green Bay's success throughout this season, but probably not anymore. What more does a team that has won 14 of its last 15 games have left to prove?
Those same skeptics now have few, if any, reasons to continue to poke holes in the Packers. Green Bay beat a Detroit Lions team that was determined to snap a two-game losing streak and get back into contention for the NFC North crown in front of their home crowd. Instead, they were out-played by the Packers, who lost a few key personnel along the way in cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) and pass-rushing defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilia (ankle). The Packers also played without offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (ankle) in the second half.
With substitutes, like DE Michael Montgomery, CB Frank Walker, CB Tramon Williams, OT Tony Moll filling in, the Packers kept the Lions contained. Though Detroit closed to within eight points in the fourth quarter, the Packers put the game away with a 72-yard drive that ended with Mason Crosby's 26-yard field goal and an 11-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
That's what contenders do when garbage time goes askew on, and the Packers proceeded to step on the Lions. By the end, the Packers proved that they are, indeed, contenders - in front of the nation.
Win or lose against the Cowboys next Thursday night in Dallas, the entire football world will be including the Packers as a team favored to win the NFC title this season.
A lot of so-called experts wanted to brush the Packers aside in September and October, and write off their victories to luck, or fortunate breaks. They can't do that anymore. The Packers have been creating their own breaks by playing well as a team. Mike McCarthy has kept the team focused on the game at hand and prepared. Favre is playing the best football of his career, including the mid-1990s when he won three straight MVP awards, and the team refuses to allow success to bring it down.
Injuries may eventually be factor with the Packers, including next Thursday's game, but that's about the only animal that will slow this team down. The Packers are a Super Bowl contender and playing that way. They have won six straight and have won the last three convincingly. The chemistry between the many young players and selected veterans is special, just as special as the successful teams of the 1990s. When talent, preparation and chemistry merge, good things happen, and the Packers showed everyone today that they will continue to make it happen through the rest of this season and into the playoffs.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.