Clay Matthews Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

NFC North Preview- Green Bay Packers


Dec 25, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; The Chicago Bears line up for a play against the Green Bay Packers during the game at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Bears 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Green Bay Packers-

2011 Record-15-1 (Lost in divisional round to the New York Giants)

Coach- Mike McCarthy- 63-33 regular season 8-5 post season 1 Super Bowl Championship

All-Time Record- Bears lead 92-86-8 (1-1 Postseason)

2012 Subtractions- Qb Matt Flynn, C Scott Wells, T Chad Clifton, CB Pat Lee, SS Nick Collins

2012 Additions- C Jeff Saturday, DE Anthony Hargrove, DE Phillip Merling, DT Daniel Muir

2012 Meetings- Week 2 Sept 13 at Green Bay, Week 15 Dec 16 in Chicago

Strength of Schedule-31

Fantasy Impact- Aaron Rodgers-1st round Greg Jennings 1-2 round Jordy Nelson 2-3 round Jermichael Finley- 5th round  Cedric Benson 4-5 round

QB Aaron Rodgers Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Packers offense- The Packers offensive machine finished 3rd in total offense with 405 yards per game, and third in passing offense with 307 yards per game.  Aaron Rodgers followed up his Super Bowl MVP with a sensational season throwing for 4,643 yards with 45 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions.  Rodgers was assisted by having one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Greg Jennings is consistently good every year, and Jordy Nelson had a break out season catching 68 balls for 1263 yards and an amazing 15 touchdowns.  James Jones and Donald Driver were also contributors to the offensive fireworks in 2011 and Randall Cobb will be looked to for a bigger role in 2012.

The weakness of this offense (if there is a weakness) is the running back position.  Ryan Grant’s tenure is now over, and the feature back was being handed to James Starks.  Starks was a disappointment so the Packers decided to make a move! Enter Cedric Benson. Benson the former Bear will not ever be a home run hitter but he can get you 4-5 yards on first down which could make a unstoppable offense almost indefensible   The key to stopping this offense is to make sure that there are absolutely no big running plays, and to be able to get pressure on Rodgers on 3rd down conversion attempts.  The Packers are going to throw the ball and put up points, the key to how deep their playoff run will be  be linked to how consistent their running game will be in 2012.

Defense- The Packers were 31st in total defense and 32nd  in passing defense.  What was a strength for the team in their Super Bowl run, became a weakness this past season.  The offense masked how bad this unit really played all season until it was uncovered in the divisional playoff loss to the NY Giants.  Clay Matthews didn’t record double digit sacks for the first time in his career, and the secondary was shredded like Swiss Cheese for much of the season.

The Packers decided in an effort to improve their defense to dedicate their first six picks of the  draft to the defensive side of the ball.  The rookies will be counted on to be productive this season. It’s hard to imagine the defense getting worse so it will show some improvement, but it will be hard pressed to be a fearsome defense.

Outlook

The Packers are a very good team that is favored by almost every “expert” to win the NFC North, and many have them as their NFC Super Bowl representative.  The Packers are going to win a lot of games  this season, and it will be tough for the Chicago Bears to overtake them as the division leader baring injury to Aaron Rodgers.  The two places that could be an Achilles heel for the Packers heading into 2012 will be the running back and defensive back position.  The offense counts on getting productive plays out of the running game, and with Benson in the fold this offense could be one of the best ever in Green Bay .  It is conceivable that Rodgers could be putting it up in the air 50 times a game.  Either way the offense with the talent it has assembled will find ways to gain yards and put points on the board.

The defensive blemishes can be covered by the high octane offense during the regular season, but when the rubber meets the road in January how far the Packers advance will be a direct result on how improved the defense is throughout the season, and how much the rookies arrive.

Prediction Sure to go Wrong

Packer will finish first in the NFC North with a 11-5 record.  It will not be as easy as last season, and they will again fail to catch fire in January and not make it back to the promise land.

 

 

Tags: Aaron Rodgers Cedric Benson Clay Matthews Greg Jennings James Starks