With that, here is a good one for the millions of Packers' fans around the world to chew on: The real possibility exists that the 2007 Packers could be the greatest Packers' team ever.
Okay, I said it. At the risk of speaking too soon, or even being caught with an egg on my face should the Packers get upset by the 3-10 Rams this week, the statement at least has merit. With an 11-2 record, the Packers have set the stage for the most historic of all seasons since the franchise joined the NFL in 1922.
First things first, though, Coach McCarthy has a trip to St. Louis on Sunday. Should the Packers take care of business there against the Rams, and then win their remaining two games at Chicago (5-8) and against the Lions (6-7 and losers of five straight), they will post 14 regular season wins to become the first Packers' team to ever accomplish such a feat.
"It's something I haven't thought about, but anytime you say the first team in Packer history, that's something that obviously means a lot," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "I think those are types of things that when the season is completed, you look back on and appreciate."
Several of the great Packers' squads – including the '96 team, the '66 and '67 teams, and the '61 team - already had two losses by the end of November. The '62 Packers had only one loss for the entire season, the '36 team had a loss and a tie, and the '29 team remains the only unbeaten team (though they had one tie and no playoff game), but what lies ahead potentially for the '07 Packers is what would separate them from the pack.
Yes, all of the above-mentioned Packers' teams have what the '07 Packers are pursuing (a championship), but the possibility of playing and beating the Cowboys (12-1) in an NFC Championship game and the Patriots (13-0) in the Super Bowl would make this year the greatest ever for the Packers.
The Packers have a chance to play two of the most formidable opponents back-to-back in NFL history. The Cowboys have the inside track on home-field through the NFC playoffs and are a good bet to finish the regular season 15-1 while the Patriots are even a better bet to finish as the NFL's first unbeaten team in the regular season since 1972.
Think of the storylines for Packers' quarterback Brett Favre alone, who has already answered some of his critics with arguably his best season ever at age 38. He could be going back to Texas Stadium to try to exorcise his personal demons (namely a 0-9 career record there) for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Two weeks later, he then might be in Arizona for the Super Bowl to face a quarterback, Tom Brady, and a team, the Patriots, who might be on the cusp of being considered the greatest team ever.
The Packers would be heavy underdogs in both games and have much work left to get there, but the possibilities, with the foundation they have laid thus far, never could have been scripted when the season began. With the media attention the NFL draws today, both games would be two of the most anticipated and watched ever.
Two hurdles standing in the way for the Packers the rest of the regular season will be injuries and the possibility of having their playoff position locked in before the last regular season game. Both could spell at least one more defeat over the last three games, and thus end the chance at a record-breaking regular season. The Lions game at Lambeau Field (Dec. 30) to close the regular season could essentially be rendered meaningless based on what happens over the next two weeks.
The Packers are working through injury issues to no less than 10 players who were limited in practice on Wednesday. Those key players – Favre (elbow), Charles Woodson (toe), Chad Clifton (shoulder), Mark Tauscher (ankle), and Al Harris (heel) – could have a profound effect on the Packers' quest for 14 wins. McCarthy is already entertaining the idea of resting some of those players to ensure a healthier outlook for the playoffs.
"That's a great question for next week," said McCarthy on Wednesday. "There's different mindsets towards it. Some people try to treat it like preseason. You only play them so many quarters. We'll find a common ground when we're in that position. Frankly, I don't even like talking about it right now because we should be talking about the St. Louis Rams because getting to 12-2 is the most important. We talk schedules all the time, substitutions all the time, play time – those are things that are really adjusted on a weekly basis. I'd like to rest some of our veteran players down the stretch if that's possible."
The Packers can clinch a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a win this week and a Seahawks loss or tie, or with tie and a Seahawks loss. The Seahawks won the NFC West last week with a win over the Cardinals and are 9-4. They play at Carolina on Sunday.
To surpass the Cowboys for the No. 1 seed is unlikely for the Packers. They would have to win out and then need the Cowboys to lose two of their last three games (against the Eagles on Sunday, at Carolina on Dec. 22, and at Washington on Dec. 30).
The most optimistic of Packers' fans and media saw the Packers as a playoff team at the beginning of the year, but really that was about it. Another 8-8 season seemed to be more the consensus based on how the team looked in training camp and the preseason.
With a slow, but sure rise to the top of the NFL this regular season, though, the '07 Packers even being considered as one of the best in team history is a remarkable accomplishment. To think of what still might happen, not even the icons of Lambeau, Lombardi, or Holmgren in any one season could really match that.
Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.