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Year of the Packers

The Green Bay Packers should have been in the Super Bowl last year. If not for a bevy of untimely mistakes in the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks, it would have been Aaron Rodgers and the Packers facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Instead, Green Bay was left with a sour taste in its mouth. Things only got worse during the summer, when star wide receiver Jordy Nelson was lost for the entire season with a torn ACL. Then, the Packers started playing, and all is right again in cheesehead country.

In fact, the Packers should be headed to Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50 this year. It should not even be a contest.

Green Bay is absolutely loaded on both sides of the ball. The Packers possess a well-known ability to score in bunches, but the more unknown defense is also getting the job done. Green Bay stifled Seattle in Week 2 before crushing the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers in consecutive weeks.

Clay Matthews is the face of the defense, but he has ample help in the men like Mike Daniels, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Letroy Guion, B.J. Raji and Julius Peppers. All of them can play and play well, forcing offenses to usually come from behind against a tough unit.

Offensively, the Packers might have the most dynamic group in the league. Rodgers has been simply sublime to this point, throwing for 995 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. This week, Green Bay will welcome the middling St. Louis Rams to Lambeau Field, a place Rodgers has not thrown an interception since Dec. 2012.

Rodgers enjoys the talents of running back Eddie Lacy and receivers Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, who have stepped up in the absence of Nelson. James Jones was picked up late in the summer after being released by the New York Giants and has paid huge dividends, scoring four touchdowns to tie with Cobb for the team lead.

The NFC sets up beautifully for Green Bay, which has no real challenger to speak of. The NFC East is a group of bad teams, although the Dallas Cowboys could and perhaps should get rolling when Tony Romo and Dez Bryant return. Then again, it might be too little too late. The NFC North clearly belongs to the Packers, while the NFC South features a pair of undefeated but flawed teams in the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Both will likely make the playoffs, but neither would have any chance of beating the Packers in Wisconsin.

The only division which could pose any problem is the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. The problem is Arizona and Seattle won’t beat out the Packers in all likelihood for home-field advantage. Arizona would be hard-pressed to beat the Packers in January at Lambeau, and with the way Seattle’s offensive line looks, it will be lucky to make the playoffs.

This is the year of Rodgers in the NFC.

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