Rankings: Woodson talks openly about 19-0

SAN DIEGO – The Packers were halfway to perfection after Sunday's 45-38 victory over the Chargers, but veteran cornerback Charles Woodson(notes) didn't feel like celebrating. Standing at his stall in the visitors' locker room at Qualcomm Stadium – actually, it was the defense's private locker room, as the Pack's offensive players were clustered in equally cramped quarters a few yards away – Woodson gave his unit a failing midterm grade.

"Yeah, we're 8-0," Woodson said. "Offensively, we're outstanding. Defensively, we're a liability on the team."

Woodson vented for awhile before I brought up a topic I assumed would get him even more riled up: The possibility that the Packers could win out to join the 2007 Patriots as the only 16-0 team in NFL regular-season history. I figured he'd dismiss the possibility as unrealistic, premature or insignificant.

Most NFL players are programmed to think about two things: Winning the next game, and winning a championship. Everything else is just noise. And I'd assumed teams like this year's Packers likely wouldn't go undefeated in the regular season because, deep inside, they had no interest in it.

The '07 Patriots were a strange case, having reacted to the Spygate scandal by adopting a persecution complex – and embarking upon a ruthless quest to strike back at those who called them cheaters by annihilating everyone. Surely the 2011 Packers, defending Super Bowl champions who get love even in visiting stadiums from their portable fan base, wouldn't get caught up in such madness.

As it turned out, in keeping with a weekend-long theme, I'd completely misread the situation.

"We can talk about it," Woodson said, smiling. "I don't care. We're 8-0. We'd love to be 16-0 – love to. It's a realistic conversation now. We're halfway there. So yeah, let's talk about it."

I asked Woodson, the team's unquestioned leader on the defensive side of the ball, if he'd talked about the hunt for an unblemished record with his offensive counterpart, quarterback Aaron Rodgers(notes).

"Yeah, at times," Woodson said. "We know what we want."

Woodson then specified precisely what he wanted: Predictably, it wasn't to match the Pats, who won their first 18 games before suffering a stunning Super Bowl XLII upset to the Giants, but to join the 1972 Dolphins (who went 17-0) as the only untied, undefeated champions in NFL history.

"I'd love to go undefeated," Woodson said, his voice rising. "I'd absolutely love to. Not just the regular season – the whole thing."

While Rodgers ("We're taking it one game at a time") and coach Mike McCarthy ("Our goals have been pretty clear – win the division, get home-field advantage, win the Super Bowl") adopted a more cautious tone, I'd be shocked if the Packers don't take a swing at history if they keep winning into December.

[ Related: Aaron Rodgers leads all-midseason team ]

"I think it's very premature," McCarthy said of such talk. "Once you get to double-digit wins, those type of goals become more in sight."

The Packers are a pair of home victories – against the Vikings on Monday night and the Bucs six days later – from getting to double digits. After that they have a Thanksgiving showdown against the Lions in Detroit, followed by another road test against the Giants. Then they face the Raiders at home and play their final remaining road game at Kansas City before closing against the Bears and Lions at Lambeau Field.

[ Related: AccuScore breaks down Packers’ chances of winning NFC North ]

If the Packers get to 13-0 and 14-0 and clinch the top seed in the NFC, will they resist the temptation to play it safe by resting their key starters and keep the undefeated dream alive?

"Oh, we're going to," Woodson said. "No question about it."

There are, however, 32 Questions we can offer at the midpoint of the 2011 season, beginning with the team halfway to perfection and ending with the winless, Peyton Manning(notes)-less but not necessarily Luck-less franchise whose stadium will host Super Bowl XLVI in February:


1. Green Bay Packers: Does Clay Matthews(notes) insist that Woodson refer to him as "The Claymaker" in front of female acquaintances?

2. Baltimore Ravens: After John Harbaugh quoted Teddy Roosevelt in his postgame media session Sunday night, did Robin Williams feel threatened?

Jim Harbaugh's Niners have a five-game lead in the NFC West.
(Getty Images)

3. San Francisco 49ers: How crazy is it that the 49ers can theoretically clinch the NFC West title before Thanksgiving ‐ and that they've already clinched a tie for last year's division crown?

4. New York Giants: After telling reporters, "You can't spell elite without Eli," did defensive end Justin Tuck(notes) take a peek at his head coach's face and consider adding, "And you can't spell tomato without Tom"?

5. Pittsburgh Steelers: The next time the Steelers are protecting a lead, will Mike Tomlin yell "Stop the presses!" to Dick LeBeau?

6. New England Patriots: What do Chad Ochocinco(notes) and Agent Ocho Seis have in common?

7. Atlanta Falcons: When Tony Gonzalez(notes) says Julio Jones(notes) is the most talented rookie he has ever seen, is the NFL's second all-time leading receiver including glances into the mirror?

[ Video: Can Julio Jones put Atlanta over the top? ]

8. Detroit Lions: Will the sight of Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli on the Soldier Field sidelines this Sunday give the 6-2 Lions a bad flashback to 2007?

9. New Orleans Saints: How did their defense get so soft in the red zone – and can a team that ranks last in that category be a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

10. New York Jets: When John Conner(notes) rambled his way to a fourth-quarter touchdown in Sunday's victory over the Bills, was he tempted to spike the ball and scream, "You're terminated, [expletive]"?

11. Buffalo Bills: Which loss stings more – the 27-11 defeat to the Jets on Sunday, or not having Kyle Williams for the rest of the season?

12. Chicago Bears: Lovie Smith does know that oddsmakers set lines as a means of stimulating betting on both sides, and not as a judgment of a team's actual worth, RIGHT?

The Texans are fourth in the league with 24 sacks.
(US Presswire)

13. Houston Texans: Are you kidding me?

14. Cincinnati Bengals: When Domata Peko(notes) said of the Steelers, "We hate them and they hate us," shouldn't he have added, "To the extent that they know we exist"?

15. Dallas Cowboys: If DeMarco Murray(notes) really believes it's "too early to pat myself on the back," how likely is it that the scout who pushed for the team to draft him is exercising similar restraint?

16. Oakland Raiders: After giving up 299 rushing yards to the Broncos, should the Raiders' defense be nicknamed "The Tube"?



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17. Philadelphia Eagles: Who's more awkward – Chas Henry(notes) passing or Chaz Bono dancing?

18. San Diego Chargers: Which athletically gifted tight end got rounder more quicklyAntonio Gates(notes) or Alge Crumpler(notes)?

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After hearing Raheem Morris' explanation for his season-ending injury, how badly does Gerald McCoy(notes) want to lay an arm tackle on his head coach?

Chris Johnson has just one100-yard game this season.
(Getty Images)

20. Tennessee Titans: If the Titans cut Chris Johnson, how hard will Jeff Fisher be laughing after adding the halfback to the roster of the team he's coaching in 2012?

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Will Romeo Crennel soon start sending Tamba Hali(notes) after opposing quarterbacks and dropping the other 10 defenders into coverage, or will K.C.'s other pass rushers man up and stop being so sack-deficient?

22. Minnesota Vikings: As part of a stadium PR push that includes sending players to lunch with suburban business leaders, will owner Zygi Wilf ask former Vikings receiver Randy Moss(notes)and his dog – to break bread with Gov. Mark Dayton at Tinucci's Chicken and Ribs?

23. Carolina Panthers: To remain with a "special team", would Jeremy Shockey(notes) be willing to play lots and lots of special teams?

24. Denver Broncos: Did Elvis Dumervil(notes) finally emerge from the Bat Cave, and will he and Von Miller(notes) become the bookend pass rushers of John Fox's dreams?

25. Cleveland Browns: Has Peyton Hillis(notes) played his last down with the Browns – and how can someone who runs so hard be so emotionally fragile?

26. Washington Redskins: When watching Mike Shanahan debate whether the 'Skins are "rebuilding" during a media session, why did I get the feeling he wished he could take a sledgehammer to the nearest wall and scream, "Rebuild this"?

Tarvaris Jackson(notes) was sacked once and picked three times by the 'Boys.
(AP Photo)

27. Seattle Seahawks: Who's more self-destructive – Bad Hasselbeck, or "Bad Santa"?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars: Wait – Jags GM Gene Smith has a weekly radio show, and there's proof that people actually tune in?

29. Arizona Cardinals: Can 6-foot-8 Calais Campbell(notes) block out the sun – and how huge was Darnell Dockett's(notes) role in Campbell's overtime-forcing blocked field goal last Sunday?

30. St. Louis Rams: When you've lost nine of your last 10 games against the Cardinals, how atrocious is the state of your franchise?

31. Miami Dolphins: If Vontae Davis(notes) had a hangover when he showed up at practice last Saturday, how much more did his head hurt after Brandon Marshall(notes) threw a football at it?

32. Indianapolis Colts: Is this the week, or should the '08 Lions be worried?

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