The Green Bay Packers had a tough season last year getting to the NFC North championship. Lost Aaron Rodgers in a Monday Night Football game against the Bears until the end of the season, basically. Had to have Matt Flynn lead one of the wildest comebacks in recent memory against the Dallas Cowboys on a national stage. Beat the Chicago Bears at home to even clinch the division & get into the playoffs, before their luck ran out against the San Francisco 49ers in the wildcard round.
The team showed tons of resiliency all season long, dealing with injuries to Rodgers, Clay Matthews & B.J. Raji, but it allowed for other top players to step up & show off their worth to the organization. This offseason, the team lost a key weapon in James Jones (Oakland Raiders), but Jordy Nelson & Randall Cobb will be looking to continue to be the dominant 1-2 receivers on the team & continue to help Rodgers operate the high powered offense that he has run in Green Bay for years since he took over for Brett Favre in 2008.
Running back Eddie Lacy (NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year) had a dominant season, rushing for over 1,000 yards & being a great glue for when Rodgers was out & Flynn had to be the leader of the team on the field. Lacy was a big-time bruising back & will be looking to do the same this season. The offensive line is back in tact, Rodgers seems to be healthy, so Lacy will have a few more holes this year to run through & show off his skills in a big way.
However, Lacy will have a great teammate from the defensive side of the ball in Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, taken 21st overall by the Packers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Clinton-Dix is a ball hawking safety & a hard-hitting one, which should make many receivers think twice about those long crossing routes down the field, where the Packers were very weak at times last season. Clinton-Dix, along with Sam Shields & Tramon Williams & Morgan Burnett in the secondary should solidify one of the better Packers secondary units in many years, possibly since the SuperBowl year of 2009.
The team beefed up their pass rush by signing Julius Peppers from the Chicago Bears early in the offseason. Having Peppers being a disruptive force will help the team get some kind of pass rush on teams, which was lost when Matthews had to be out because of injury. Between having Matthews, Peppers & occasionally A.J. Hawk blitzing in from the LB position, the Packers will be able to consistently get pressure up the A & B gaps, with B.J. Raji commanding doubles because of his size & strength. These additions on the defense of Peppers & Clinton-Dix should help the Packers defensive rankings (24th against the pass, 25th against the run), which were some of the worst in the league.
With the offensive unit playing top 10 level football all season, the Packers should be right in line for another division championship, but with a deep NFC North this year with the Detroit Lions & Chicago Bears getting better, it should be a fun division all the way around.
Our prediction is that the Packers will finish 11-5 & win the NFC North & gain another home playoff game. Not a first-round bye, but should be an outside favorite to get back to a Superbowl.