Pretty much anyone who’s anyone is expecting a huge 2016 season from the Green Bay Packers. And there’s a good reason for that — plenty of them, in fact.
The Packers pieced together 10 victories last season despite dealing with a vast array of injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Jordy Nelson’s season-long absence in particular — the result a torn ACL — stung in a big way. It vaulted Randall Cobb into the No. 1 wide receiver role, a role for which he was barely fit to play.
He had some big outings, but was maddeningly inconsistent as the season went on. He was banged up, of course, even bruising a lung during the playoffs. But the point stands: Cobb struggled to find openings in the secondary when facing double coverage and increased attention from zone defenses that cheated his way.
The upshot? Davante Adams got plenty of experience. Though he struggled to hold on to some passes, barely catching 53 percent of his intended targets, he occasionally looked like a fringe No. 2 receiver. And now the Packers get to use him as a No. 3 option, alongside both Nelson and Cobb. That’s a huge boon for an offense that ranked 15th in points per game and 11th in total passing touchdowns last season.
Green Bay’s offense is made even more terrifying by the addition of tight end Jared Cook. Expect to see more dual-tight end sets, with him lining up beside Richard Rodgers. Both players are No. 1 caliber tight ends, giving quarterback Aaron Rodgers even more weapons with which to work.
Ah, yes. Rodgers. He is arguably the best quarterback in the game, and most certainly ranks in the top three of the NFL’s passers. His completion percentage was the lowest of his career in 2015, but that comes back to personnel issues. Just look at whom he was throwing to. His accuracy should skyrocket with Cook, Rodgers, Cobb, Adams and a healthy Nelson. Plus, he still posted a top-10 touchdown percentage last season. That will climb as well.
Rodgers’ job will (hopefully) be made even easier by Green Bay’s one-two punch in the backfield. Eddie Lacy looks like he’s in the best shape of his career. James Starks, meanwhile, is a more than adequate second-string back who can make big plays as a pass-catcher off screens.
Count on the Packers deploying a top-seven offense, at minimum, if everyone is healthy. That alone will be enough to carry them toward 11-win territory. Their offense, in fact, is the reason why they have the best odds at coming out of the NFC title game (+450), in addition to the second-best Super Bowl odds overall (+850), behind only the New England Patriots (+600).
This is no accident. The NFC is overrun with could-be and should-be Super Bowl contenders. The Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals should all be back in the mix this year, and there are two possible threats, in the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings, that loom on the fringes. But the Packers stand to tower over the rest of the field thanks to their (now-healthy) high-octane offense. It will be on the defense that will make Green Bay into an absolute juggernaut.
The Packers ranked a very palatable 12th in points allowed per game last season and didn’t suffer any offseason losses that should severely compromise that standing. Defensive tackle B.J. Raji’s retirement and cornerback Casey Hayward’s free-agency departure could adversely impact Green Bay in both the running and passing games, but the Packers picked up a defensive tackle in the first round (Kenny Clark out of UCLA). Their run defense, which ranked 23rd in the league last season, isn’t in danger of falling any further.
Still, in an NFL that is rapidly becoming more geared toward air-it-out offenses, the Packers have their work cut out for them. They ranked sixth in passing touchdowns allowed for 2015 and didn’t do much to change their secondary. That’s fine on the surface, but it may be difficult to guarantee another top-seven finish in that department.
Picking up linebacker Blake Martinez (Stanford) in the fourth round was low-key huge. He should be able to make an impact right away.
Thus, if there’s any change in the Packers’ defense, be it good or bad, the shift should be slight. Which is good. Treading water on defense will be enough to put them on the fast track for a return to absolute dominance. Again, it begins and ends with the offense’s ability to improve. And given the personnel, making a major leap shouldn’t be a problem.
View the Packers as, at worst, the second-best team in the NFC. They are a genuine Super Bowl hopeful and should be one of a few teams that, barring injury, flirt with 12 or more victories en route to a playoff bye. If everything breaks right for them on the running back front, both in terms of health and production, there’s a chance they’ll sprint away with the best record in the conference — no matter how good the Panthers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Saints and/or Vikings end up being.
Official Packers Prediction: 12 wins and an NFC title game appearance.
Odds To Win NFC North
Green Bay Packers: -140
Minnesota Vikings: +200
Chicago Bears: +900
Detroit Lions: +1000
Well, let’s get down to it then….
Last years 10 win season was damn lucky. We were 1 hail mary pass away from ending up 1 game over .500. Not too mention, without that hail mary, we wouldn’t have even made the playoffs. I attribute the 10 win season largely in part that the defense didn’t allow a lot of points. Credit earned, credit given. Also, even in Rodgers worst statistical season, he’s better than the majority of QB’s in the league throwing 31 td’s against 8 picks.
Joseph brought up that the passing defense allowed the 6th most td’s allowed last season. Despite the fact i kept hearing how we have one of the best secondary’s in the league, from tv talking heads, to Packer fans. What i do expect however is the secondary improving. Based on Rollins, and Randall getting a year of experience under their belt. Maybe more importantly, Mathews returning up on the line more or less full time, thereby using him as a pass rusher instead of neutering him as ilb.
Lastly, eliminating other reasons for a lackluster season last year. Hopefully at the end of the season we have a solidified left tackle position, and/or at least capable back up options. Not sure we can allow Rodgers to get sacked, like the 9 times he did against Arizona and then..expect, to actually win the game.
So..what to look forward to….. it looks like fast Eddie lost 10-15lbs, so maybe our early run plays can pay some dividends.
The obvious…key players coming back. Also, dare i say, Montgomery staying healthy and becoming the receiver we all feel he can be. .Jordy needs to get off that PUP list and get some practice time going. That PUP shit makes me feel uneasy. Also, the addition of Cook, and a slimmed down Richard Rodgers.
I optimistically compare this season’s offense to the prolific 2011 season. But with a better defense. As the 2011 defense gave up 1,040 more yards in offense than the 2015 defense. That difference is the equivalent to 3 games of offense in the NFL. So with that….
Go big or go home….I’m going with a prediction of 15-1.
Forgive me….Also winning the NFCCG, the SB, Rodgers league MVP, and SB MVP.
I’M ALL IN.
I think you misunderstood Joseph. The pass D had the 6th best pass D as far as TDs allowed. They were also in the top ten in lowest QB rating allowed.
In addition to all the positives indicated, I also like the depth on this team better than the last 2 or 3 years. Stay healthy and things are looking good.
Yea, i read it to fast, and wrote my post too fast, my bad.
So Howard, your prediction is……
I think 13-3 maybe 14-2.
1.The team has several players in contract years.
2. D overall has the players to be more physical.
3. There is a good mix of veterans and younger players.
4. The overall team depth is very good once Pennel is back (that dumbass). Only position I have real concerns with is punter. Masthay has provided the opposition large chunks of yards in the last two post season runs. With every yard being more important in the playoffs this cannot continue.
5. The way the schedule lays out really helps the team except for the early bye.
6. There are more playmakers available for the offense.
7. Really like the overall team speed, size, and versatility.
8. I think this team is in better physical shape overall. See 1.
One thing that no one really mentions anymore and that I did not agree with when I first read it was Shawn indicating (prior to the season) last years team would probably have a hang over from that disaster in Seattle. I thought there would be no way that would occur. I think it really did happen. Look at how many guys played out of shape and without a lot of urgency last year. That hang over has passed. No more headache and upset stomach. This team is hungry.
Assorted football thoughts at this early juncture:
Impressive new Packers from practice and game 1:
Undrafted-Brandon Burks, (showed burst and patience) Robertson Daniel, Kentrell Brice, Geronimo Allison, Joe Callahan, Brian Price.
Drafted-Jason Spriggs, Kyler Fackrell, Blake Martinez (made up for missed tackle/slow reaction with a nice pressure, good communication).
FA-Cook and McCray
Players potentially coming into their own/have a future with this tem-Jared Abbrederis, Datone Jones (again dominating in preseason), Carl Bradford, Christian Ringo, Matt Rotterham (still putting it together, going to take a while), Josh Walker (as a G, cross-training for depth purposes).
Bouncebackers-Stumblin’, bumblin’ Eddie Lacy.
Biggest IFs (Likely Bouncebackers-Elton John shades)-Cobb, Jordy, Monty, Rip, Adams, Ryan (in that order).
Continuing Risers-HHCD, Randall and Rollins, Gunter (in that order).
Wearing hot pants sitting on a diner griddle-Masthay (SSDD, where the hell is the Masthay from 2, 3 years ago who used to be deadly inside the 20?), Peter Mortadella (solid game 1, inconsistent practices), John Crockett, (and you thought Eddie Lacy looked slow), Demetri Goodson, Kennard Backman (Good News: managed to get open on one play. Bad News: no one felt he was worth covering-kinda like the dorky kid who stands at half court picking his nose alternately flicking and eating it during PE class; seriously, man, you’re losing your roster spot to an overweight male blowup doll in a Hulk Hogan wig).
Not going to make predictions on the season because I don’t like fucking with the Powers that be, especially when it comes to football, but I feel this is the deepest, youngest, most well-balanced Packer team I have seen in the past 15 years or so. A lot of IFs that need to pan out for the good guys but I don’t consider any of them to be improbable. Certainly some possibilities won’t pan out-injuries sub-par performances, Wally-Pipping, etc., but I think enough of them will to make this team one of the best in football, and not for just this year alone.
Just my 22 cents.
Coaching Staff-love the facetime for the position coaches/coordinators, credit to whoever’s (MM?) decision it was to get them more exposure. Truly do believe we have one of the best staffs in the NFL, including the dieticians (ALL those players losing and gaining weight this off-season-12, Lacy, Sitton, Rodgers, Jones, Jerry, Thomas). Really like what Trgovac, Campen, (who got shit, justly and un-, for years), Moss (see Campen), Perry (see Campen, Moss), and of course Whitt Jr. have to say. Really liking what Angelichio has brewing with the TEs, Sirmans’ goup is off too a great start as well, will see with Getsy, he has a lot of talent to work with.
Interesting. Let’s hope it comes to fruition. I’m tempering my expectations even with all the good points you guys made above. Nobody predicted they would be swept at home by division rivals last season. I don’t see that happening this season. They should be better than 11-5, and I hope I’m wrong, but I have this nagging feeling something is going to keep them from putting it all together.
I’m not gong to caveat my prediction with “if the Packers stay healthy”. They never do.
Cobb is not the guy. We complain about Adams, and he’s probably a bust, but Cobb should have stepped up with 1400 yards receiving when Nelson went down, just like Nelson, Jennings, Freeman, Brooks and Driver before him. I don’t think the Packers have a primary receiver at this point. Nelson will have issues. I would not be surprised if he starts the season on IR. The rest of the receivers are just bit players.
Lacy: here’s the thing about big backs. Their time in the NFL is short lived. After just a few years, they don’t want or can’t take the pounding anymore. There’s a good chance Lacy might not be a play maker anymore.
The offensive line will probably be better because the Packers will have more options than a banged up Don Barclay when Bulaga and Bakhtiari inevitably go down.
What is not talked about much, is that the Packers defense was a top 3 defense the last half of the season, and it’s probably going to get better as the secondary matures and Perry and Datone Jones are on the field more than Mike Neal.
I say 9-7 with an offense that’s just as bad as last season.
You made me laugh, thank you.
So then, are you assuming Cook is a bust?
That the NFC North teams with Cutler and Bridgewater are now forces in the Division?
That our schedule is tough?
That Lacy won’t perform better than last season, being lighter, and in a contract year?
That Nelson isn’t coming back?
That Cobb won’t be very effective?
That Rodgers will have back to back so called “bad” seasons?
That with an improved O line and improved defense, the team will finish 9-7? Really?….The only way this team goes 9-7 is if Rodgers misses the season on IR.
For this team to finish 9-7, you’d have to agree with every point i listed above.
You sir, are out of your fucking mind.
When a couple of fans here proclaimed Rodgers was finished back in Jan., i told them back then, that i will not forget and will be reminding them of their proclamation. This is no different…Enjoy my friend.
Sounds like you need a new bandwagon to jump on. Vikings perhaps?
9-7? Really? I don’t think the offense will have a repeat of last season, with or without Nelson. Whatever their shortcoming will be, I doubt 1 game over .500 is realistic. I’ll be as surprised as anyone if that happens. Not likely however.
TWO games, not ONE….