This article looks at the upcoming season, and how the Packers need to react to their opponents, who for the most part have improved their roster on paper. Notice that they will have the same analysis from the pre-draft edition but will feature information on how the draft might change the outcome, or how the game is played below the pre-draft analysis.
San Francisco 49ers
Thank goodness we have Aaron Rodgers and our depth at wide receiver and tight end, because we would not be able to run the ball against San-Fran no matter who we draft. The 49ers were and will probably remain, number 1 against the, especially since they have the same starters this upcoming year. The 49ers are number 16 against the pass, so we won’t expect a total blowout through the air but I would say we have a good chance to start Jennings/Nelsons season in a positive way.
The 49ers had one of the more questionable first round picks, the selected WR A.J. Jenkins. Jenkins has great speed and could see most of his plays out of the slot although he could also be a serviceable situational receiver. Later in the draft the 49ers added another ball-carrier to their already quality running back depth in LaMichael James. James could be a good return specialist for San Francisco and could be a third down back in some games.
The Bears will be the first division rival we face this year, and we will have to play similar like we do to the 49ers, the Bears are number 5 against the run and 28 against pass. This game will certainly feature our receivers, and when were on defense we dont have to worry much about their passing, we will need to focus our efforts on stopping Forte and now, Bush.
The Bears stole Shea McClellin and plan to line him up opposite of Julius Peppers, obviously this is going to pain us twice a year with our lack of a quality offensive tackle and guard rotation. The Bears also added a red zone threat in Alshon Jeffery who could compete for a second string role behind Brandon Marshall. In round 6 the Bears added some high speed coverage depth in the form of cornerback Isaiah Frey. Frey, at this point does not appear as a shutdown corner that we would fear twice a season.
Seeing as though Matt Flynn will probably start, I can’t predict much on how their passing game will be however, with Marshawn Lynch our linebackers are going to have to play with aggression and intelligence. We took a good pass-rusher from the Seahawks in Anthony Hargrove but we our offensive line will still have to play well. The ‘Hawks were number 9 overall on defense but I think Mr.Rodgers can handle it.
The Seahawks added a great play to their pass-rush when they selected Bruce Irvin in round one,but we all know Irvin has a few character concerns that could affect his plays on field. Bobby Wagner was added to support the Seahawks anti-run defense as he lines up as an inside linebacker. Another interesting selection is safety Winston Guy. Personally I like Guy, and although he may not be a threat to us now, in seasons to come we could have some trouble passing in to his zone.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are the toughest opponent we will face next season, and this is where our new pass-rush will hopefully play well to stop Drew Brees from launching crazy accurate rockets to his receivers. Our linebackers will also have to stop Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram from running into our secondary that already has problems with tackling. On offense we should not have many problems by passing to some of our larger targets like Jermichael Finley who could wreak havoc in the Saints secondary who will not add any top-level defenders mainly because the Saints lack 1st and 2nd round picks.
As mentioned above due to the lack of some early draft picks the Saints were not able to get much high-end talent, but they did a good job making the most out of their picks. The Saints added DT Akiem Hicks, who could develop to be a good run stopper and pass rusher. On offense the Saints called in Nick Toon, WR out of Wisconsin. Toon is an average receiver that could compete for a role on the Saints roster. Toon lacks amazing speed but has reliable hands.
Well, the Packers will be one of the first few to test Andrew Luck’s skills, by this time our secondary should be figured out, and we will be able to shut the Colts’ new offense down. The Colts will probably have a new running back but I doubt it will be elite, so our linebackers, by now, should be able to stop him.
Obviously Andrew Luck will consistently test our secondary in this game, with his accurate quick passes. I didn’t expect them to draft the top two tight ends in the draft though, they added Coby Fleener, who actually played with Luck at Stanford, and Dwayne Allen out of Clemson. By having a two receiving tight end set, the Packers could play in the nickel set most of this game and might have to rely on a safety to cover one of the tight ends. The Colts also got Josh Chapman who was the second best nose tackle in the draft.
In week 6 we will face one of the best pass-rushes in the league. Even without Mario Williams most of the season, they managed to remain an elite front 7. This will a test of our offensive line, and see how Rodgers reacts under some pressure, the Texans were number 14 against the pass and 24 against rush, so this will be a great game to watch.
The Texans continued to add depth to their already great defensive front 7 by adding Whitney Mercilus and Jared Crick. They also added a good center in Ben Jones who will learn from Chris Myers, who almost went to the Packers in free agency. Keshawn Martin was also selected and could add another threat to their receiving corps who have failed to take coverage off of Andre Johnson.
There’s not much to say here, the Rams are not ready for the Packers, expect a blowout.
Okay, I know my pre-draft explanation was short and simple. But, the Rams actually did a great job in the draft. They added the best DT in the draft Michael Brockers, added some receivers in Brian Quick and Chris Givens. The Rams added some great cornerbacks in Janoris Jenkins who would be a top 15 pick if not for character concerns, and Trumaine Johnson another talented corner. The Rams even gave Steven Jackson a good student in Isaiah Pead.
This game could be fun for the Packers defense, the Jaguars have the worst offense in the league, which could be really good practice for our pass-rush and secondary. Surprisingly the Jaguars are number 6 in overall defense and number 8 against the pass. This could get interesting quickly, and after the draft I wouldn’t be surprised if their early picks don’t help them. The Jaguars, if they make the right moves could be one of the most underrated teams. Step 1: replace Blaine Gabbert.
Jaguars’ had an iffy draft. They added a good receiver in Justin Blackmon, and a pass rushing threat in Andre Branch out of Clemson, but they got a PUNTER in the THIRD round!
The Packers’ secondary needs to shut down Larry Fitzgerald, if we do it correctly and don’t make any silly mistakes this could be a cake walk. The Packers’ offense shouldn’t have many problems running through the Cardinals’ #21 rated rush defense. And Aaron Rodgers could pass through the number 17 pass defense.
Well, now we have to worry about shutting down Larry Fitzgerald and his apprentice Michael Floyd, who was the second best receiver in the draft after Blackmon. The Cards also added some good corners in Jamell Flemming and Justin Bethel who I think is underrated.
The Packers will take this time to address how the team is doing, and practice for their first meeting against the Lions.
Our second divisional match up comes late in the season against Megatron and the Lions. The NFC North has the weakest secondaries in the NFL. This is great for Aaron Rodgers 6 times a year. In week 11, don’t be surprised if all our first downs involve a pass. The Lions, conveniently, are also weak against the run, if our running game is successful by this time of the season we could do well. The Lions will definitely challenge our defense, they are the 4th best passing team, meaning we need to bring down Matthew Stafford. However, we might also need to utilize our middle linebackers to blitz, seeing as they might be discouraged to run with their number 29 rated rushing attack.
The Lions have made it hard for us to get to Stafford consistently twice a year after adding Reily Reiff, one of the top offensive tackles drafted. Ryan Broyles was drafted in the second round and will add depth to their receiving corps, even though he has had an injury he could be effective after learning from the Megatron. The Lions drafted Dwight Bently to try and slow down the Packers league-known passing attack, no disrespect to him but I don’t know if he can shut down any of our slot receivers.
New York Giants
Grrr… The Giants stopped our great season last year and had audacity to win the Superbowl afterwards. The Packers need to play with aggression, especially the o-line to hold back Jason Pierre-Paul and Co. Our pass-rush has to bring down Eli Manning. Last year Eli had enough time to order a Brooklyn pizza, eat it, and take the time to relax and pass a completion. Our pass-rush can’t do it all so our secondary is going to have step their game up as well. DON’T DROP THE BALL. Last time we faced the Giants Jermichael Finley had a bad case of the dropsies, if he can fix that, his natural size could strike enough fear in to Atrel Rolle and gain a few yards.
The Giants added to their already talented offense by getting David Wilson, RB, and Reuben Randle, receiver out of LSU.
The Vikings, otherwise known as the worst team in the NFC. Okay, maybe not the worst, but the worst in the increasingly tough NFC North. Lets be honest the NFC North is like a high school, the Packers are the main jocks and popular kids, and the Bears and Lions are the grunts who are kept in check twice a year each. The Vikings are the geeks who get beat-up continually through the season. To simplify this analysis, the geeks are going to get stuffed in their lockers. Packers win.
Matt Kalil could make it tough to get Christian Ponder down but, by this time i expect our pass-rush to be good enough to get through on the other side. Josh Robinson, who had the fastest 40 time at the combine will also attempt to shutdown the Packers receivers. Hes fast, but by now we will figure out a weakness.
This game could possibly be a repeat of week 11, the game plan is quite simple. Keep Megatron covered, and bring down Matthew Stafford, if we accomplish that the Packers should walk away with a win. At this time of year Jahvid Best could be quite explosive though, so it would be a good idea to have our MLB’s watch out for a few running plays.
Unless the Packers suffer major player injuries by now, this game could be similar to week 11. Hopefully the Packers can win both of the division match-ups.
Michael Bush and Matt Forte could be the most dangerous players on the Bears offense. It’s almost scary to think we have to partly rely on the inconsistent A.J. Hawk to take them down. The secondary might not have a problem against the Bears sub-par receivers, but I’d hope we don’t get cocky.
The Bears could be challenging our NFC North championship here, so we need to punch them in the mouth early in the game.
Note: 5th round selection Terrell Manning will move to inside linebacker, and hopefully by now, can take some plays away from A.J. Hawk who has never reached his expectations.
Finally after three division games, we get to beat someone who were not used to winning against. The Titans have a very speedy halfback in Chris Johnson, and are the number 12 passing team, the Titans will be pretty easy to beat if we can stop the offense. The defense is the 23rd in the league, number 22 against the pass, no match for Aaron Rodgers.
The Titans improved their passing game by adding Kendall Wright, and helped their pass defense by adding pass-rusher Zach Brown and safety Markelle Martin.
By now I would hope we have the home-field advantage and are able to bench most of our starters, this game will become irrelevant and we could still win, seeing as if our second-stringers beat last years Lions, who are better then the Vikings.
I expect the same locker stuffing here from week 13.
The Packers opponents had some very good drafts, a lot of them either added a player rush Rodgers, or someone to stop our high quality depth at the receiver position, some even added help at both. I think the Packers still have good chances at winning the NFC North and could go on to win the Super Bowl.