After two losing seasons, the Packers organization was steadfast in not wanting to rebuild with a new head coach. We find out this year if that was the right decision.
It was February of 2011, the Green Bay Packers had just won their first Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers and like Brett Favre before him, Rodgers seemed destined for more rings. Fast forward to today and Rodgers is off two injury-plagued seasons and is showing signs of a player who will be 36 during the season, that he might not last as long as Tom Brady or Drew Brees.
But with front office changes and a different approach, Green Bay has switched gears from always building through the draft to combining that with free agents signing to win now with Rodgers.
Not that any head coach is not in a position to have to win immediately but Matt LeFleur is expected to lead the Packers back to the playoffs with the hope they are a Super Bowl contender by the end of the regular season.
For a team in flux at several spots, that seems to be a tall order, though the NFL odds at Betonline suggest they are feeding into public perception about this storied franchise.
Division Odds: +200 (T-1st)
NFC Odds: +800 (5th)
Super Bowl Odds: +1600 (T-9th)
Season Win Total: O9 (-110)
Quarterback: After the massive fallout with Mike McCarthy, people today view Rodgers differently. The “relax” guy is in some circles thought of as selfish and self-absorbed. With ample pressure on LeFleur, there is even more on Rodgers to be a team player and embrace his coach’s philosophy. Last season was the first time where it seemed the former Cal QB was less careful with the ball and had more crucial fumbles and interceptions. There was a lot of youth at wide receiver last year, thus, the hope is the experience for both parties will work out.
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Rest of Offense: The offensive line might appreciate LaFleur relying more on them. At Tennessee, Lafleur believed in committing to the run. Whether RB’s Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams can hold up to a heavier workload will be determined, but if they do the offense will be better because of it. The Pack is hoping TE Jimmy Graham can turn back the clock at 32 and be closer to the player he was in New Orleans. It’s a given Davante Adams will be a stud pass-catcher but what will be interesting if all the second-year receivers were willing to work as hard as Adams did to become the star he is today.
Defensive Front Seven: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is not used to fielding the 18th-ranked defense like he had last year. Pettine’s stop troops are annually Top 10 material. A lot of resources were used to upgrade this side of the ball, both through the draft and free agency. What Pettine expects is a greater sense of urgency and more big plays, especially on third down. If this contingent can gel early, the Pack Attack will be back in vogue.
Secondary: In truth, there is no shortage of talent in the secondary. That talent needs to turn into an every-down focus for this still youthful group and players like Kevin King and Josh Jackson have to stay on the field and avoid the training room and injury report. In talking about this group and the teammates that will be in front of them, there an upside, but can this all possibly come together? Answer that and you will know what is the right side for NFL picks.
Packers Prospectus: As much as Green Bay Packers fans want to believe, the fact of the matter is Chicago and Minnesota have more complete rosters. That is not to say Green Bay couldn’t rise up and stun some people since it is the NFL and almost anything is possible. Yet, the facts as we know them point to a Packers team topping out at nine wins and the only way they surpass that is if Rodgers returns to early 30’s form and plays relatively healthy. To change opinion, something has to happen on the field.
Writer/Handicapper Doug Upstone was a documented 50-34, 59.5 percent at sports betting monitors in the NFL last season and is 15-5 the last two years in the NFL preseason.