Column: RICK SOLEM
The Green Bay Packers looked like a Super Bowl bound team Sunday.
The Washington Redskins were never in the mix and the 38-20 score is no indication to how lopsided a win this was at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.
Nobody in the NFC looked better, but, perhaps, that’s because the front runners in the NFC played each other later that night … and only one team looked any good.
The San Francisco 49ers looked downright lost at Seattle in a 29-3 blowout at CenturyLink Field. Then again, most teams look lost in Seattle. The Seahawks fans set a Guinness World record for loudest stadium - twice. Initially it was set in the second quarter, but then again during a goal-line stand in the third when they reached 136.6 decibels.
But the way the Packers played and how Seattle handed San Francisco its first loss, it begs the question as to the hierarchy of the NFL two weeks into the season.
The Packers and 49ers were in a shootout Week 1 at Candlestick Park and both teams looked impressive.
And the way Green Bay played Sunday, you’d walk away wondering if anyone could stop that offense.
But if you watched the Seahawks dismantle San Francisco, you have to wonder where the Packers fit in.
These may be the best three teams in the NFL, alongside Denver, which had its way with the New York Giants on the road.
The difference in Seattle, San Francisco and Green Bay may quite simply be defense. At this point, Green Bay may not have the defense to stop Seattle - though its offense is perhaps less explosive than the 49ers - while the Seahawks may have enough to contain the Packers.
They had enough to stop the 49ers, but, then again, they had a week to figure out San Francisco’s offense is dependent on one wide receiver, Anquan Boldin.
Vernon Davis ate up Green Bay (6 catches, 98 yards, 2 TDs), but didn’t do much against the Seahawks (3-20), before leaving midway through the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury.
If you just compared the 49ers and Packers offense, San Francisco comes out looking pretty pedestrian.
If the two teams match up again, Boldin doesn’t have 13 catches for 208 yards. He had one catch for 7 yards against Seattle.
It’s hard to draw conclusions after two weeks in the NFL, but at this point, Seattle has to be the top-ranked team, then Denver. And, between Green Bay and San Francisco, you’d have to give the 49ers the edge simply because they won last week, but it’s close.
Give both teams a week to see tendencies, and Green Bay’s game plan would certainly change.
San Francisco burned the Packers 45-31 playoffs last year using Colin Kaepernick as the focal point with the read-option. Last week, they barely used it, instead throwing the ball all over the field, which certainly caught Green Bay off guard.
The Packers never adjusted, however. Boldin’s catch to secure a first down late in the fourth and allow SF to run out the clock was proof of that. Or maybe their pass defense simply needs an overhaul. Robert Griffin III put up 320 yards playing catch up.
Meanwhile, Seattle shut down Boldin, Davis and running back Frank Gore. The only thing Kaepernick could do was run (9 carries, 87 yards).
Could the Seahawks shut down Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley? They’d be less worried about a James Starks, Eddie Lacy or whoever would be lined up behind Aaron Rodgers – unless Lacy makes huge strides throughout the course of the season.
And possible, because these two teams won't meet unless it's in the playoffs. Then again, San Francisco and Seattle may have to play each other before the Packers meet the winner.
The odds are the Packers will have to go through San Francisco to get to Seattle. And going through SF will probably come on the road.
Both teams are 1-1 now, but the 49ers have at least one gimme on their schedule – Jacksonville. At this point, the gimme for Green Bay would be Cleveland … or Minnesota twice … or Detroit. Maybe the NFC North is worse than the NFC West.
But SF holds the tiebreaker.
Whatever the outcome, no NFC team is going to want to go through Seattle to get to East Rutherford, N.J. for the Super Bowl. No team, except Seattle, of course.