Everything went against the Green Bay Packers in 2017. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a serious collarbone injury and that all but ended Green Bay’s chances of topping the NFC North. The Packers struggled to inspire confidence down the stretch and finished with more losses than wins for the first time since 2008. That can’t happen again this year.
The entire Green Bay offense revolves around Rodgers. He is the difference between a deep playoff run and falling short in the regular season. To put his efforts into perspective, Rodgers has a 313 to 78 touchdown to interception ratio since he was drafted in 2005. At his best, he might just be the most talented quarterback in the league.
A healthy Rodgers puts the Packers firmly in the driving seat to unseat the Minnesota Vikings as the top spot in the NFC North. On paper, there isn’t much to split the two teams other than Rodgers. The Vikings have gambled on quarterback Kirk Cousins and that decision may come back to haunt Minnesota if the former Washington Redskins starter falls short.
Not surprisingly, the latest NFL odds favor the Packers to trump the Vikings in 2018. Green Bay is +138.00 to secure the NFC North this season at Bet365. Mike McCarthy’s men have won the division in five of the previous seven years and a sixth looks likely if everything goes to plan.
With Jordy Nelson now plying his trade for the Oakland Raiders, the onus will be on Davante Adams to step up as Green Bay’s number one receiving option. Selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2017, Adams enjoyed a productive year; notching 74 receptions for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns. That production came without Rodgers for over half of Adams’ games.
The Rodgers-Adams combination should flourish in 2018 but Green Bay will need the likes of Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison and free agent acquisition Jimmy Graham to offer support in the receiving game. Cobb has had three down years in a row and needs to step up. Graham can still be one of the best tight ends in the game when used properly as an outside receiver. Surround Rodgers with talent and the Packers offense will sparkle.
Defensively, the Packers will be young, but that could work to their advantage. The likes of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Josh Jones and rookies Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson will look to form a solid relationship in the secondary, where the Packers have consistently struggled to contain the pass. A significant improvement in that department will see Green Bay move above their divisional rivals.
No one expects much from the Detroit Lions or the Chicago Bears this year. It looks like a two-horse race between the Packers and the Vikings. Keeping Rodgers healthy will give Green Bay a real advantage on offense and the talent is there to build a solid defensive unit.