By Paul Imig Special to Published Oct 23, 2015 at 3:06 PM

There are plenty of reasons for the Green Bay Packers to feel good about where they’re at as they enjoy a Week 7 bye. However, for a team with obvious Super Bowl aspirations, there are some reservations about what this year’s team might be able to accomplish in the big picture.

Let’s start with the positive and look at reasons for optimism.

1. An undefeated record

No matter how every game breaks down in the finer details, a win is a win. And in the NFL, that’s not an easy thing to do, especially not on six consecutive weekends to begin the regular season.

Only five unbeaten teams remain, with the Packers being joined by the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers. Two of those teams, Carolina and New England, have played five games compared to Green Bay’s six.

The Packers will get their shot on the road against the Panthers in Week 9. That should determine – at least for now – superiority in the NFC. It could also become a very important outcome down the road, when home-field advantage in the postseason might come down to those two teams.

Everyone else in the conference is chasing Green Bay in the standings at this point. NFC teams are plenty familiar with how difficult it is to come into Lambeau Field and win, too. So, even with there being issues to work out, the Packers should feel quite good to be standing undefeated in late October.

2. Overcoming injuries

A study conducted by ESPN found that Green Bay is the "most banged-up team" in the league. That is based on total starts missed, including upcoming games that players on injured reserve will obviously not be available for.

When the Packers won the Super Bowl in February 2011, they had 16 players on injured reserve. This year’s group hasn’t approached that number yet, but if Green Bay wins it all, it will have done so without wide receiver Jordy Nelson, inside linebacker Sam Barrington, defensive lineman Josh Boyd and safety Sean Richardson. Of course, with 10 regular-season games to go, that list has a high probability of growing between now and early February.

The three teams who directly follow the Packers in ESPN’s most-injured list (Washington, Pittsburgh, Chicago) have an 8-10 record. Green Bay’s oft-discussed "next man up" philosophy has been working. Nate Palmer and Joe Thomas have filled in well for Barrington, James Jones’ return helped ease the loss of Nelson, and the defensive line has been playing terrific football without Boyd. That’s a credit to the depth that general manager Ted Thompson has assembled.

3. Defense carrying the team when necessary

When the Packers reached their midseason bye in 2014, the defense was such a mess that major changes were needed. The headlining move was Clay Matthews becoming an inside linebacker, and that shift has improved Green Bay’s defense ever since.

Through six games this season, the Packers rank third in points allowed per game, second in sacks and third in interceptions. Between Weeks 3 and 4, Green Bay allowed just one touchdown.

The most important factor is that the Packers’ defense has proven itself capable of almost single-handedly winning games. On the majority of NFL weekends, if an offense goes on the road and only scores 17 points like the Packers did at San Francisco in Week 3, it results in a loss. Instead, it was a 14-point Green Bay victory.

If the final 10 games of the regular season play out similarly to the first six games, this could be the best Packers defense in quite some time.

But now, onto the negative side with the reasons for pessimism.

1. Long injury list

Overcoming injuries is a good sign for any team. But having that many injuries in the first place is never good.

It all began in preseason when Nelson, a second-team All-Pro wide receiver, suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Since then, more than a dozen key Packers players have fallen to some form of injury, with varying lengths of recovery.

The concern isn’t whether Green Bay is able to win regular-season games despite the injuries; it’s whether a Super Bowl is possible with all these injuries.

Most agree that an injury to Aaron Rodgers would end any realistic chance at carrying the Lombardi Trophy this season, but are the Packers one more key non-Rodgers injury away from finding themselves as an early postseason casualty? Would a season-ending injury to Randall Cobb sink Green Bay’s hope of a Super Bowl. How about to Matthews? Or Lacy?

The Packers had some breathing room built in, thanks to the deep roster put together by Thompson. But that depth is wearing thin already, and there’s still 62 percent of the regular season left to go.

2. Downfield passing attack

Rodgers has described it as the "Jordy Package." Green Bay is sorely missing Nelson’s ability to stretch the field and get open on deep passing routes. No one else on the roster has stepped up consistently and provided what they lost with Nelson.

There have been games this season in which Rodgers has not completed a single pass that had to travel 20 or more yards in the air. That is at least part of the explanation for why the Packers rank 20th in the NFL in passing yards. Since 2010, Green Bay had never ranked worse than ninth in that category.

Last season, the Packers had six players average more than 10 yards per catch. This season, among those who have caught at least three passes, only three are are averaging more than 10 yards per reception.

3. Eddie Lacy

Lacy hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1 in Chicago. During Green Bay’s Week 6 win, Lacy carried the ball four times for three yards. These two facts alone tell a concerning story for Lacy’s recent production.

There seems to be little doubt at this point that Lacy has been bothered by his ankle injury. He’s one of many players who is fortunate that the bye happened now. Lacy will need to show that the time off was enough to let him heal, though, because the Packers will need him down the stretch.

To spin it as a positive, Lacy wasn’t great in the first half of 2014, either. Then, he came back from the bye and finished with 97 or more rushing yards in five of the final eight regular-season games.

Paul Imig Special to
Paul Imig spent the past five years working for FOX Sports WI. He began by covering the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers before taking over the Green Bay Packers beat in 2011. In addition to his writing, Paul also made television appearances nationwide on FOX Sports 1. He can be heard on the radio statewide on The Bill Michaels Show and can be seen on Time Warner Cable's Roundtable show with Dennis Krause. Paul is the 2015 recipient of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's award for Graduate Of the Last Decade (GOLD).