The Vikings, whom the Packers shut up with a 24-19 victory on Monday night, look like they are again more about hype than substance (and, yes, I'm guilty of calling them the favorite to win the NFC North).
The Lions, whom the Packers face on Sunday in Detroit, look like a disaster on and off the field after their opener, even though they annually assemble some impressive talent.
That leaves the Packers, even after just one week of the season, looking like a lock to finish ahead of the Vikings and Lions in the NFC North again. Only once since 2000 have they finished lower than either team in the standings.
Clearly, the Packers separate themselves on the field based on how they operate off of it. General manager Ted Thompson always will have his critics and coach Mike McCarthy may make a game-day error here and there, but both Packers' leaders are sound in their approach. They never would get caught with their pants down like the Vikings and Lions did last week.
A few of the Vikings' defenders had been talking some trash for nearly a month before the season opener, essentially calling out Aaron Rodgers, saying he was no Brett Favre. They were right. With his 18-of-22 performance, Rodgers was better than Favre ever was (at least based on completion percentage) against the Vikings.
On the flip side, Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson continues to struggle. The Vikings could be in trouble should they continue to run their offense the way they did against the Packers. Coach Brad Childress should be criticized for allowing Jackson to throw 35 passes in a close game. His worst call was going shotgun on a third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter with the Packers leading 17-12. Jackson's pass fell miserably incomplete for Bobby Wade. The Packers scored on the next drive to take a more comfortable lead.
What about Adrian Peterson!?
Why Childress fails to use the dynamic Peterson more only trumps the organization's trouble in finding a franchise quarterback. Peterson set the tone for the game early with a 34-yard run in a strong first half, but then was essentially a non-factor. Yes, the Packers' defense did a better job on him in the second half, but how Childress fails to get him at least 25 touches every game, not making any effort to use him in the passing game, is a mystery.
Peterson is a once-in-a-generation back who gets stronger as the game wears on. Play him for now, not the future. Forget limiting his touches for the good of his health. And as good as Chester Taylor is, he is no Peterson.
As for the Lions, they head into Sunday's game coming off maybe their worst game since coach Rod Marinelli took over in 2006. With expectations a little higher than a year ago, the Lions fell flat on their face, 34-21, to arguably the NFL's worst team a year ago, the Atlanta Falcons. They got beat by a rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, making his first start, and let a running back, Michael Turner, blaze them for 220 rushing yards in his first NFL start as a full-time starter.
Perhaps even more frustrating for the Lions were a few sideline disputes between quarterback Jon Kitna and assistant coaches that were caught on camera. For a team with a supposedly old-school, disciplined coach, the scenes were telling. As one Detroit Free Press writer headlined his blog on Wednesday, the Lions' season is over. Such a statement can't bode well for Matt Millen, the Lions' president and CEO who has become the annual whipping boy for Lions fans for his failure to turn college talent into an NFL winner.
The Packers, by comparison, are off to a strong start in a pivotal season. Though some may never forgive Thompson for trading Favre, and McCarthy continually has clock management issues, the Packers' brain trust duo is one of the strongest in the league. The Vikings and Lions, much to the delight of Packers fans, fall well short.
Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.