It’s become the norm this year to have a new No. 1 team in my NFL Power Rankings almost every week, and it’s no different leading into Week 11.
This time, it’s the Green Bay Packers, a team that had previously been in the top spot once this season, much to the chagrin of many when they were there. It’s a team that has ascended back to that spot behind something that most didn’t see being the reason — the defense.
The Packers are not just Aaron Rodgers and the passing game anymore. It’s a stark contrast to the way things have been around Green Bay for most of the Rodgers era. The Packers are the third-ranked defense in the league right now, In three consecutive games, they have limited some of the best quarterbacks in the game, winning two and losing to Kansas City only when Rodgers was out with COVID-19.
In the three games against Arizona’s Kyler Murray, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the Packers allowed one touchdown pass and four picks and held the three to a combined 34 points. The 17-0 shutout of the Seahawks Sunday was the team’s first shutout since 2018 and was also the first time Wilson was shut out in his career.
What makes the play of the defense even much more impressive is the Packers are doing it without top cornerback Jaire Alexander and pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith, who are both out recovering from injuries. Both could be back in December.
Credit goes to first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who has helped mold this unit into one of the best in the NFL. It’s helped that players like Rashan Gary, who could miss some time after suffering an elbow injury Sunday, corner Kevin King and down lineman Dean Lowry have taken their games up a notch. Rookie corner Eric Stokes has also showed off his improving cover skills, while free agent linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has proved to be a good signing. The safety tandem of Darnell Savage and…