How did the Green Bay Packers fail to repeat as the Super Bowl champions last season? On the outside, it’s hard to believe. Green Bay had a 15-1 record, Aaron Rodgers threw for 45 touchdowns and Jordy Nelson had a breakout season. When you dive deeper and realize that they had the NFL’s worst passing defense, Greg Jennings had a down year and their rushing attack was non-existent, it makes sense.
Detroit and Chicago have improved their rosters this off-season and are both preseason favorites to make the playoffs. The NFC is loaded this season and every team will need to be almost perfect to achieve their goals. Can Green Bay fight off the rest of the pack and make another Super Bowl appearance?
Key Additions: C Jeff Saturday, DE Anthony Hargrove, DE Phillip Merling, DE Nick Perry, DT Jerel Worthy, RB Marc Tyler, CB Casey Hayward, S Micah Pellerin, DT Mike Daniels and OT Andrew Datko.
Key Losses: QB Matt Flynn, RB Ryan Grant, OT Chad Clifton, CB Pat Lee andC Scott Wells.
Non-Division Schedule: AFC South and NFC West
Fantasy Sleeper: RB Marc Tyler – James Starks has the starting job going into the season, but he has never had the job by himself. He split the carries with Ryan Grant last year, who is no longer on the team. John Kuhn is still around to vulture touchdowns in Green Bay. The backup running back job is up in the air. Marc Tyler has the best shot at winning the job over Brandon Saine. Tyler had a solid career at USC, a college known for grooming elite NFL running backs. If you draft Starks, make sure you grab Tyler or Kuhn as a handcuff.
Team Analysis: The winner of the NFC North will be beaten and bruised by the playoffs. It will be difficult for a team out of this division to keep it all together through to the Super Bowl. Rodgers is an elite quarterback, but will have little help from the running game. They signed veteran center Jeff Saturday to bolster up the line, but he has never been great at run blocking. The defense was a big problem for Green Bay last season. Clay Mathews and B.J. Raji had down years, but did see increased production from A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. The Packers front office didn’t do anything to improve the secondary in the off-season. They drafted Hayward, but Green Bay’s secondary is still long in the tooth. Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford are drooling at the chance to face them. If they can’t get pressure on the quarterback, Green Bay will lose games because of their secondary. For that reason, I have them losing the NFC North, but still getting a wild-card spot. The Packers will not make the Super Bowl in 2012-13.
2012 Wins Over/Under Line: 12 (Prediction: PUSH)
2012 Projected Win/Loss Record: 12-4