Updated Sept. 6
Can a team be considered the best in the NFL, yet not be picked to win the Super Bowl?
That's how I see the Green Bay Packers.
My Super Bowl picks won't come until Thursday. But in this batch of the CBSSports.com Power Rankings, the Packers are in the top spot.
That's because I think the talent on the current roster is even better than it was for the team that won it all last February. So they have to be looking down at the rest of the league.
Even so, without revealing my Super pick -- hey, you'll have to wait -- I can tell you it won't be the Packers.
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Repeating is too darn hard.
The Packers have the benefit of having separation from their Super Bowl season with the lockout. That will help their focus, but I think even with that it's going to be a long haul to just get back to the Super Bowl.
The division will be better. The conference is better. The schedule is tougher.
And, oh by the way, you are a target every time the ball is kicked off.
That's tough to overcome.
The good news is the Packers are built for the long haul. General manager Ted Thompson, who is now more popular in Wisconsin than cheese curds, has done a great job building a roster that has sustainable success.
It starts with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but it doesn't end there. The Packers have almost all the pieces needed for long-term success. So even if they don't win it this year, they will remain a contender for the next five.
They have the NFL sustainable formula in place: Star QB + good coach + elite pass rusher + cover corners + good drafted core = staying around for a while.
I just don't think they win it this year.
But they get the right to start at the top of the rankings.
I want you to do something with these rankings. Print and save. Then in late December pull them out and laugh.
No matter how many times we think we have the pulse on the NFL, it reminds us that we don't.
That's the greatness of the league. The unpredictability draws everybody in each and every September. The league has had five new playoff teams each of the past 15 years.
The lockout could impact that happening again because some of the younger teams missed meshing time, but it's hard to argue with history.
Green Bay won't be one of those teams missing the playoffs.
I just don't see them winning it all again.