Update (8/24): With the news that WR Jordy Nelson suffered a torn ACL in the preseason game with the Steelers on Sunday and will miss the entire regular season, that changes the Packers’ situation. It’ll mean more work for WR Randall Cobb who is more than capable of stepping in as the No. 1 receiver in Nelson’s absence. What does that mean for the receivers lower on the depth chart? Second-year WR Davante Adams will likely get the chance to fill that spot on the roster. In 11 starts last season, he caught 38 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns. So while a Cobb-Adams tandem is a step or two down from Nelson-Cobb, it still could be one of the better receiving duos in the league of Adams can live up to the expectations people have for him as he enters his second year in the league. After all, there’s a reason why the Packers took him in the second round of the 2014 draft.
Even with the Nelson injury, I still think the Packers are the best team in the division and should easily win it. The playoffs may be tougher for them, though, missing Nelson. Thankfully for the Packers, Rodgers is one of the quarterbacks who seems to make any of his receivers better.
Original Post (8/15):
We continue our previews of all 32 NFL teams over the course of 32 days (or so) leading up to the start of the 2015 season with the Green Bay Packers, the next team in the NFC North, who are coming off a first-place finish in the division and NFC Conference Championship appearance last season.
When you have QB Aaron Rodgers leading your team onto the field each week, you’re in good shape — a fact that the Packers have come to know over the last several years.The Packers have made the playoffs six straight seasons and look to be perennial contenders as long as Rodgers plays at the level that he has since taking over as the team’s starter in 2008.
Rodgers’ 4,381 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns helped the Packers finish the season with the best offense in the league. It certainly helps that Rodgers has good receivers to throw the ball to; WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb caught 98 and 91 passes, respectively, last season for a combined 2,806 yards and 25 touchdowns — both finishing the season in the top 10 among wide receivers. RB Eddie Lacy also put up good numbers last season — though down a little from his rookie year in 2013 — with 1,139 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns — ninth best in the league. Lacy also added 427 yards and four scores through the air on 42 receptions. While the offense was the best in the NFL last season, the defense was middle-of-the-pack, ranking 14th in the league.
What is there to say about the Green Bay offense other than it’s one of the best around? If the offensive core can stay healthy and avoid injury, you can pretty much pencil the team in for double-digit wins, as last season’s 12-4 record shows. The defense is the biggest area of concern for the Packers, especially now that they’ll be without longtime LB A.J. Hawk, who signed with the Bengals in the offseason. Thankfully for the defense, the team can put points on the board so an average defense is easier to overcome for Green Bay than it would be for other teams.
Looking ahead at the schedule for 2015, the don’t have it easy in the first couple weeks of the season. It starts in week one with a road game against the division rival Bears in one of the sport’s fiercest rivalries, then the Packers host the Seahawks — who beat them in last season’s Conference Championship game — in week two.Other games of note include a visit to the Broncos — another team known for its strong offense — for a prime-time showdown in week eight and a Thanksgiving night matchup with the Bears in Green Bay to finish the season series between the teams. After Thanksgiving week, it doesn’t get easier as the Packers travel to Detroit for a prime-time game against the Lions, then host the Cowboys in week 14. The Packers are once again the best team in the division — though with QB Teddy Bridgewater now having a season of experience and RB Adrian Peterson back after his seasonlong suspension, I expect the Vikings to have a good season this year — and, as I mentioned earlier, are likely going to win at least 10 games again this season, which should be enough to earn one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC, if not win the division.