The San Francisco 49ers knew their schedule was going to be difficult. In fact, it was deemed the third-hardest slate of games among any of the NFL's 32 clubs when the schedule was released in April.
Judging from the first three weeks of the season, that forecast/prediction looks accurate. San Francisco's first four opponents are currently 10-2.
The Minnesota Vikings have won two straight since losing to San Francisco in Week 1; the Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-1 having only lost to the New England Patriots on the night the Pats celebrated another Super Bowl title; and the Arizona Cardinals improved to 3-0 with a win against the 49ers in Week 3.
Now the Green Bay Packers will make their way to Levi's® Stadium as the 49ers return home following two consecutive road games. The Packers, like the Cardinals, are one of seven remaining undefeated teams in the league.
Here are six players who have played key roles in Green Bay's wins against the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Let's start with the obvious. The NFL's MVP from 2014 has already thrown a league-leading 10 touchdowns without an interception through three games this season. On Monday night, Rodgers torched the Kansas City Chiefs for 333 passing yards and five touchdowns. Rodgers' quarterback rating of 135.4 is easily tops in the league, more than 14 points ahead of Andy Dalton (121).
Rodgers continues to be one of, if not the best quarterback at making pre-snap adjustments and diagnosing defenses.
WR Randall Cobb
Cobb was been accustomed to being the 1-B to Jordy Nelson's 1-A on the pecking order of Packer's wideouts. But now that Nelson is on the shelf with an ACL tear, Cobb has stepped up as Green Bay's alpha dog. The fifth-year receiver made his first Pro Bowl in 2014 after catching 12 touchdowns, and Cobb is already a third of the way to matching his total last season.
Cobb's 20 receptions and 245 receiving yards lead the team while his four touchdowns are tied for the team lead with the next guy on the list.
WR James Jones
Jones and Rodgers share some sort of telepathic connection. Jones, now 31 years old, was with the Packers from 2007-13 before spending last season with the Oakland Raiders. After being cut by the New York Giants during training camp, the Packers swooped up the receiver who caught 14 touchdowns for them in 2012.
Jones has proved to be a strong addition in the absence of Nelson. Now reunited with Rodgers, Jones has four touchdowns and is on pace to eclipse his 2012 mark.
With Cobb primarily lining up inside, Jones serves as the Packers No. 1 outside threat.
LB Clay Matthews
Matthews has transitioned from a pass-rushing outside linebacker to an inside 'backer who patrols the middle of the field. The five-time Pro Bowler has one interception on the season and still spends plenty of time rushing the quarterback with two sacks in three games.
The linebacker is in his seventh season with the Packers since being taken in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft out of USC. Matthews is the heartbeat of Green Bay's defense, and his versatility makes him someone teams have to account for before each snap. LB Julius Peppers/DE Mike Daniels
Outside of Matthews, it's Peppers and Daniels who lead Green Bay's pass-rushing charge. They are tied for the team lead in sacks with 2.5 apiece.
Even at the age of 35, Peppers is showing he still has plenty of juice left. The linebacker is on the heels of back-to-back seven-sack campaigns and has made eight Pro Bowls now into his 14th season.
The former second-overall pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2002 has 128 career sacks, tied for 14th-most in NFL history.
Daniels is in his fourth season after being taken by the Packers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. After recording 12 sacks the last two years combined, the defensive end is continuing to make an impact thus far in 2015. Daniels also has a forced fumble to show for his efforts.