It's rare that you still have questions about a second place team in February, but Bayer Leverkusen aren't your ordinary team. Too often in past years they have been good, but not quite good enough. They have lost matches to the Bundesliga's bottom feeders or lost all semblance of form for a month, turning what could be a title run into a good, but disappointing season.
This won't be the season that Bayer finally win the league -- not with Bayern Munich playing like arguably the best team in the world and running away with the Bundesliga -- but they are second place and can finally make it through a season without a series of self-inflicted wounds. That would be progress.
Bayer's latest test will come on Sunday when they host red hot Borussia Dortmund, who have won their two matches since the winter break by a combined score 8-0. To make things even more tantalizing, Dortmund trail Bayer by only a point for second place.
The question for Dortmund is whether their defense can hold out. Sensational at their best, Dortmund and especially their centerback pairing of Nevin Subotic and Mats Hummels have been known to gift their opponent a goal or two. Against Stefan Kiebling, Andre Schurrle, Sidney Sam and Gonzalo Castro that is playing with fire.
Hannover 96 is playing with fire whenever they step on the field regardless of opponent. Their horrendous defense has been a sieve all season and yet somehow, they are 10th and just three points out of a Europa League place. See, anything is possible.
Also proving that anything is possible is Eintracht Frankfurt, who beat Hoffenheim last weekend to stay in a Champions League place. Stefan Aigner and Martin Lanig got the goals as, one again, the midfield led the attack. That shouldn't change this weekend against Hamburg either, against whom their midfield runs should pay off yet again.
But while the rest of the league will be out trying to prove themselves, Bayern Munich will continue to look down from their perch and laugh.
"Bayer, you want to prove yourselves? That's cute. Another goal conceded Hannover? Shocker. Keep that meager dream of fourth place alive, Eintracht! Even the smallest dreams are dreams. Oh, Mainz next? Serve them up."
Schedule (all times ET)
Werder Bremen vs. Hannover 96 - Friday, 2:30 p.m.
Mainz vs. Bayern Munich - Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Fortuna Dusselford vs. VfB Stuttgart - Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Schalke vs. Greuther Furth - Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Hoffenheim vs. Freiburg - Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Wolfsburg vs. Augsburg - Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
Hamburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt - Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Nurnberg vs. Borussia Monchengladbach - Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund - Sunday, 11:30 a.m.