After five games, the Green Bay Packers are 2-3 with a strong "yeah, but" factor due to the referee fiasco in Seattle in week three. Regardless, few would have predicted even a 3-2 record for the Packers at this point. After poring over statistics, rankings and box scores, I have no idea what any of it means, and I'm immediately skeptical of those who insist that they do. At the quarter point of this NFL season, there's been so little consistency around the league that it's hard to draw any decent conclusions.
Consider ESPN's ballyhooed "Power Rankings," which have anointed Houston and Atlanta as the NFL's two best teams. The Texans, whom the Packers visit this Sunday, are 5-0 but have beaten just one team that made the playoffs last year: the struggling Denver Broncos. Same story for the Falcons, who won't face a legit test until they travel to Philadelphia in three weeks.
The team everybody wants to talk about this week, Minnesota, has managed a 4-1 record with a simplified strategy that includes a power-running offense and a defense set up to stop the run. The Vikings are two games ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North standings, but their schedule is back-loaded with two games apiece against Chicago and Green Bay and a trip to Houston in the season's final six weeks.
As for the Packers, they have so many key players who are underperforming (Jermichael Finley, Mason Crosby), injured (Greg Jennings) or getting sacked 26 times (Aaron Rodgers) that it's hard to figure out how good they should be. Sunday's game in Houston will be an indicator. A winning record by week 10, when the Packers have a bye, should be considered a difficult but realistic goal.