SI's Banks: Pack is NFC Favorite

The veteran NFL writer, who will be in Green Bay for Sunday night's showdown against Chicago, called the Packers' preseason dominance like watching ‘varsity vs. JV.'

When Packers cornerback Charles Woodson mentioned the Super Bowl last week, it opened some eyes. Well, that talk has spread nationally.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Don Banks recently had the Packers ranked third in his preseason power rankings. Banks will be in Green Bay for Sunday night's Week 1 showdown against Chicago, and he talked to Packer Report publisher Bill Huber on Friday afternoon.

Wow, you had the Packers 19th in your pre-training camp rankings, and now you've got them third.

I've put them pretty high. I've been pounding the drum all preseason about them. I thought I would actually be one of the few national guys that was that high on them, but it looks like I'm hardly in the boat alone. I think there was four of us on that had them going to the Super Bowl. We're pretty robust on the Green and Gold this year.

So, you think Super Bowl this year?

Yeah, I actually picked them to come out of the NFC and play the Patriots and lose in the Super Bowl. I went through there on the second day of camp and I just got a really good vibe coming out of Packers camp. Sometimes, it's a false read, but it just seemed like (quarterback Aaron) Rodgers was completely locked and loaded to have a monster year. It seemed like their defense was really comfortable with the scheme, and I thought (defensive coordinator Dom) Capers had laid a lot of great groundwork. I think (first-round pick B.J.) Raji's going to fit really well, and I think in time they'll get more out of (fellow first-rounder) Clay Matthews, and it looks like (linebacker Aaron) Kampman at least can hold his own in playing in space. It's funny, sometimes you go through a camp and you walk away and say, ‘Wow, that team is headed for disaster.' Sometimes you go to a camp and just think, ‘This is the way it should be looking at this point.' I just got that read from Green Bay. I got the read that last year was kind of this lost season, and then that they really were all on the same page and everybody was maturing. It was a young team that was kind of coming of age all at the same time, all at the right time. We'll see. I'll be there Sunday night. I think the optimism is well-founded and a lot of people suddenly see the Packers after their dominant first three weeks of the preseason as a team that may just hit the regular season completely rolling.

It should be a heck of a good game. The Bears obviously should be pretty good.

I picked the Bears to finish second in the North and the Vikings third. I just think, to me, this is just the first step in this potential great (Jay) Cutler-Rodgers quarterback rivalry. Two guys who could conceivably put up 4,000 yards every year in this division, which is unheard of, and really redefine the division's image for awhile. I guess if there's one thing about the Packers that I still want to see is the running game come back a little. But I'm on the page that says (Jermichael) Finley's going to be a receiver in a tight end's body. He can really have an impact this year. Guys like Jordy Nelson will step up with another year. I think this offense has a chance to be a little special.

That's what I think after seeing them every day. You watch these preseason games and you keep reminding yourself that it's only the preseason. But they've been so good that you wonder how this can't be real.

You have to wait, because you don't know if it was the other team, but when it was their No. 1s out there, it did look a little bit like varsity vs. JV. I think it's wrong to totally discount that because sometimes teams just kind of grow up together, kind of come of age at the right time and everybody seems to be at that point in Green Bay. They look like they're ready to play their best football. It's pretty exciting for any team to come to that realization.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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