By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Sep 08, 2009 at 8:23 AM

The Packers and the Super Bowl.

I never thought I'd write those two phrases in the same sentence.

But I just have, and I've done it for a reason. This is the second-best week of the year. The best week is the one before the NBA season kicks off. Think of it, a chance to watch Shaq and King James together.

The second best week is the one before the NFL season starts. This week.

And I've got to say, despite being impressed by the new Chicago Bears and very, very impressed by the Minnesota Vikings, I am absolutely dumbfounded by the 2009 Packers.

I know that nobody has run any plays that count yet, but looking at this roster and the rest of the National Football Conference, I'm not afraid to predict a berth in Super Bowl (which one is it, XXCVXVIIIIXCIIPOVIVYYXVCXV?) for the Packers.

Let's make sure we are clear here. I am the guy who doesn't like anything and who always expects the worst from his home teams. This year's Brewers clearly matched my expectations, for example.

To say that optimism is running high is an understatement of classic proportions. During the first three preseason games, this team looked like it might never lose again. Everything was great. The offense hardly had to punt. The new 3-4 defense was stout, fast and exciting. Special teams made big play after big play.

But let us never forget that preseason games don't count. Last year, you may remember, the Detroit Lions were 4-0 in preseason and when the regular season ended those four victories were still the only ones they had.

Watching this team in practice and exhibition games, the one word that comes to mind is one that is so rarely used by Packers fans. Fast!

This team is fast. It plays fast. The players get in and out of the huddle fast. They run out of the tunnel fast. They run from the sideline to the locker room fast. Everybody's fast. Ryan Pickett, for God's sake, looks fast.

The other thing about this team is that the players look like they understand each other. Football is a game of individual effort, but also a game that places a value on trusting the guy next to you. The Packers appear to have that kind of trust in abundance.

Granted, there may be problems for this team as the season progresses. For example, we have grown awfully used to having the same quarterback show up game after game, year after year. Last year was the first relatively healthy year for Aaron Rodgers. If he were to go down, I'm not sure that the drop off to Matt Flynn might not be too much for this team to overcome. But this team looks like it's got the depth to handle a normal rate of injury elsewhere in the lineup.

The other thing is that you have to be concerned about this new 3-4 defense. To expect this team to master the intricacies of this new scheme in just one year may be asking too much. The Packers didn't play against any outstanding offenses during the preseason and, while they had moments, they did give up a lot of points in three of the games.

Last year's offense gained millions of yards but the defense couldn't stop anyone. The jury is still out on this year's version, although early signs appear hopeful.

One player I'm concerned about is Al Harris, who plays the other cornerback position across from Charles Woodson. Harris made his bones playing a very tough bump man-to-man corner, but the 3-4 demands a different skill set and we'll see if Harris can adapt.

When you look at the schedule I could easily see a 12-4 record. The non-division opponent that is clearly a step up is Pittsburgh. The Packers are at least as good or better than all the rest of their opponents.

So good, in fact, that there would I would not be surprised if the Packers show up in Miami next February.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.