1st – Green Bay Packers
The offseason did not give me any substantial evidence to expect anything else. The Green Bay Packers spent last offseason upgrading their defense significantly with the additions of Zadarius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos. With a more stout unit in its second season and the continued development of young players like Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage, Green Bay should be expected to approach last season’s record.
Despite the head-scratching moves (or lack thereof) on offense, there is still more talent here than many Packers fans would have you believe. Aaron Jones is coming off the best season of his career, tying for the league lead in rushing touchdowns and notching his first 1,000 yard season. Davante Adams is still one of the best players in the NFL at his position, and the addition of Devin Funchess is a strong boom-or-bust move that could pay big dividends for this team.
To take another step forward and contend for a title, the Packers need Aaron Rodgers to return to form. Despite the shouts that Rodgers’ 2019 was not a sign of his decline, advanced metrics tell a far different story, and the former MVP will need to take advantage of the tools around him to return to his old ways. Defensively, this team is still waiting around for the emergence of Rashan Gary as a consistent contributor. If he can begin to turn his development into a higher gear, this defensive line can become one of the stronger units in the league.
The schedule does not offer many breaks, however. Games against the Vikings and Saints in the first four weeks will test a younger defensive unit before the team faces a tough road schedule as they head to Tampa Bay, Houston, and San Francisco over the next quarter of the season. Expect the Packers to notch more of their wins in the second half of the season, as they face Chicago twice, Jacksonville, Carolina, and question marks in Philadelphia and Indianapolis. If they can find last season’s consistency, expect another top-3 seed in the NFC.
Official Prediction: 12-4