What else can you say about the 2010 Packers? As late as Week 16, the playoffs were in jeopardy for Green Bay. But then Aaron Rodgers returned from missing nearly two games with a concussion and shredded the New York Giants for 404 yards passing and four touchdowns and the Packers wouldn’t lose again on the way to their fourth Super Bowl title. And how confident are the Pack in their current group? They have not made any significant free agent or trade acquisitions while nearly every other team has been very busy in this truncated offseason. The only major additions have been through the draft. As of this writing, 13 players from last year’s team are no longer on the roster, with the main losses being linebacker Nick Barnett, defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, guard Daryn Colledge and tackle Mark Tauscher.
Every book has Packers QB Aaron Rodgers as the front-runner for NFL MVP this season off his Super Bowl MVP performance. Despite struggling in the NFC Championship Game against the Bears, Rodgers was brilliant during his final seven regular-season starts and four playoff games with a 122.1 passer rating. With all due respect to Tom Brady, there may not be a more accurate QB in the NFL. The Packers are so deep that Ryan Grant, who rushed for 1,253 yards in 2009 but was lost for the season in the opener last year, might be second string in 2011 behind playoff stud James Starks (probably not though). Either way, the Packers are in great shape there, have arguably the deepest group of receivers in the league and get back one of the NFL’s best pass-catching tight ends, Jermichael Finley, who missed the final 11 games last year. As long as the line protects Rodgers – 38 sacks last year but down from 51 in 2009 – there’s not really a weakness here.
The Packers have an All-Pro caliber player at each level of their defense in tackle B.J. Raji, who really stepped up in the playoffs last season, linebacker Clay Matthews, a human wrecking ball who should have been NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, and cornerback Charles Woodson, the 2009 NFL POY. Matthews had 13.5 sacks last year despite playing the final few months with a stress fracture in his shin. The defense also gets back safety Morgan Burnett, yet another starter lost last season to injury. Woodson is starting to show his age, but Green Bay still has Tramon Williams (in reality, he’s the Pro Bowl guy now and not Woodson) and rookie sensation Sam Shields at corner, so there should be no worries there. And it’s not a defender, but one weakness of the Packers was their return game last year, which should be bolstered by rookie Randall Cobb out of Kentucky.
2011 Green Bay Packers Schedule Analysis
The Packers are tied for 13th in strength of schedule, with an opponents’ 2010 win percentage of .508. Green Bay’s schedule actually seems rather easy for a depending Super Bowl champion – it helped that Green Bay finished second in the division. The Packers play only five games vs. 2010 playoff teams, and two of those are against the Bears. The others are the traditional Thursday night NFL season opener for the defending Super Bowl champs, with the Pack hosting New Orleans, as well Green Bay traveling to Atlanta and Kansas City. Think the Pack are popular? They will be the first team in NFL history to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The most grueling stretch is three games in 11 days, starting with a Monday nighter vs. the Vikings, followed by a Sunday home game vs. Tampa Bay and culminating with that Thanksgiving game in Detroit.
2011 Green Bay Packers NFL and Super Bowl Futures Odds
Green Bay is -220 to win the NFC North (favorite), +375 to win the conference (second behind Philly) and +700 to win the Super Bowl (tied second behind New England) on Bodog. The Packers’ ‘over/under’ win total on WagerWeb is 11.5.
2011 Green Bay Packers Predictions
There are usually about four teams a year that hit at least the 12-win mark, and that was exactly the case last year (Atlanta, New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh). So while that seems like a big number, it’s very doable. However, the Packers figure to lose once to each team in their division considering the Bears are still good, the Lions are on the rise and the veteran Vikings are hoping for one last stand. In fact, the Packers could go 2-6 on the road with very tough games outside of division games at Atlanta, San Diego, the NY Giants and Kansas City (also one at Carolina, but that’s a Packer W). A 2-6 record is rather unlikely but I could see 3-5. So if that’s the case, Green Bay could run the table at home – very, very possible – and still end at 11 wins. So go ‘under’ the for my Packers NFL season win total prediction. I would take Green Bay to win the division, but the recent history of Super Bowl champs doesn’t bode well for the Packers to win the NFC (no team has repeated as NFC champion in the past 10 years) or repeat as Super Bowl champions.
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