The Green Bay Packers closed out the 2017 preseason with a victory against the Los Angeles Rams this past Thursday, ending up with a 3-1 record. The Packers started off strong this preseason with consecutive wins over NFC East contenders. They took down the Philadelphia Eagles in Lambeau, followed by traveling to Washington D.C to take down the Washington Redskins. The Pack stumbled in Mile High as they fell to the Denver Broncos, before returning home to close out the preseason with a W over the Rams. Green Bay had a very productive preseason, getting a gauge on their roster and uncovering some hidden gems, they showed why they are the betting favorites to win the NFC.
Diving into the off-season moves made by The Packers:
2017 Draft Class
- Round 2(1): CB Kevin King– Washington
- Round 2(29): S Josh Jones– North Carolina State
- Round 3(29): DT Montravius Adams– Auburn
- Round 4(1): OLB Vince Biegel– Wisconsin
- Round 4(28): RB Jamaal Williams– BYU
- Round 5(32): WR DeAngelo Yancey– Purdue
- Round 5(39): RB Aaron Jones– UTEP
- Round 6(29): OT Kofi Amichia– South Florida
- Round 7(20): RB Devante Mays– Utah State
- Round 7(29): WR Malachi Dupre– LSU
No surprise here as the Packers attempted to sure up the defensive side of the ball where they ranked 31st in the NFL last season, using their first four picks on defensive players. In limited preseason action both CB Kevin King and S Josh Jones showed flashes, and gave me confidence that the Packers have made great strides in a secondary that struggled mightily last season. The next priority…get Aaron Rodgers a running game. The Packers attempted to do so, selecting three backs in rounds 4-7.
- OLB/DE Julius Peppers
- DT Letroy Guion
- CB Sam Shields
- CB Makinton Dorleant
- S Micah Hyde
- RB Eddie Lacy
- RB James Starks
- RB Christine Michael
- RB Don Jackson
- TE Jared Cook
- G T.J. Lang
- T J.C. Tretter
- P Jake Schum
It’s never easy to see an all-time great like Julius Peppers walk away, his three seasons in Green Bay were nothing short of tremendous, amassing 25 sacks in Titletown. Following Peppers out the door, fan favorites CB Sam Shields and S Micah Hyde were tough ones for me to see go. From undrafted and overlooked, Shields showed he could deliver in some of the games biggest moments. Hyde showed versatility and intelligence with the ability to play any position in the secondary and flourish. The tandem of backs, both Lacy and Starks played key roles in the Packers’ playoff runs over the last few seasons. All these players will be missed and I know I am thankful for their time in Green Bay.
- TE Martellus Bennett
- TE Lance Kendricks
- G Jahri Evans
- G Justin McCray
- CB Davon House
- DT Ricky Jean-Francois
- P Justin Vogel
The Loss of TE Jared Cook (who made one of the best catches in recent memory against the Dallas Cowboys last season) prompted the front office to make an out of the ordinary move, targeting the top TE on the market and getting Rodgers a big time target in Martellus Bennett. Another move prompted out of necessity was snagging Pro-Bowl G Jahri Evans after long time protector T.J. Lang left and took his talents Detroit, a division rival. Overall, I feel like the additions will compensate for what was lost this off-season, and the youth movement on the defensive side of the ball continues for The Pack.
9/10. vs. Seattle Seahawks My Prediction: W 31-21
9/17. @ Atlanta Falcons My Prediction: L 38-35
9/24. vs. Cincinnati Bengals My Prediction: W 27-14
9/28. vs. Chicago Bears My Prediction: W 34-10
10/8. @ Dallas Cowboys My Prediction: W 42-33
10/15. @ Minnesota Vikings My Prediction: L 24-21
10/22. vs. New Orleans Saints My Prediction: W 44-41
11/6. vs. Detroit Lions My Prediction: W 38-31
11/12. @ Chicago Bears My Prediction: W 27-6
11/19. vs. Baltimore Ravens My Prediction: W 30-27
11/26. @ Pittsburgh Steelers My Prediction: L 38-31
12/3. vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers My Prediction: W 27-14
12/10. @ Cleveland Browns My Prediction: W 31-6
12/17. @ Carolina Panthers My Prediction: W 38-31
12/23. vs. Minnesota Vikings My Prediction: W 28-14
12/31. @ Detroit Lions My Prediction: W 36-26
2017 Prediction: 13-3 (NFC North Campions, #1 Seed in NFC)
With a favorable mid-season bye week, I have already stated that I think Green Bay will come out looking to secure home-field throughout the playoffs, The Seattle Seahawks are always formidable, but I feel being in Lambeau will ultimately give the Packers the edge.
Traveling to face the Atlanta Falcons and to avenge the loss in the NFC Championship after such a tough battle in Week 1 may prove too tough. I see the Packers dropping one in Week 2 as the Defense will struggle to stop last year’s MVP Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the Falcons offense.
Heading back to Green Bay to take on The Cincinnati Bengals should result in the Packers getting back on track. The Bengals will be without a leader on the defensive side with LB Vontaze Burfict suspended the first three games. Green Bay is tough enough to stop when your defense is at full strength, with an undermanned defense? Advantage Packers.
The Chicago Bears are going to be what we think they are…a team in rebuild mode with too many questions surrounding the most important position:The QB. I don’t see any trouble for this high powered Packers’ offense against Da Bears this season, going 2-0 against their division rival.
I made this prediction with the assumption that RB Ezekiel Elliott will still be suspended at this point. Following up on probably the most entertaining game of the 2016 NFL season, I believe the Packers won’t have much trouble moving the ball on the Dallas Cowboys. Our defense will do enough to contain Dak and Co. Packers will handle their business and move to 4-1.
Another division rival, The Minnesota Vikings, have a very good defensive unit. QB Sam Bradford looked impressive in his debut with the Vikings last season, and they added a very promising RB in rookie Dalvin Cook. I see a similar outcome as last season, a split between the rivals.
In what I predict will be an old fashioned QB shootout, two of the best in this generation will go at it all day when Rodgers vs. Brees hits Lambeau. The New Orleans Saints lost top WR Brandin Cooks and really didn’t improve where they needed it most: on defense. Rodgers will outlast Brees, Packers will move to 5-2 before heading into the Bye.
Fresh off their Bye, and at home I don’t see how the Packers drop this one to another divisional foe. The Detroit Lions P-A-I-D QB Matthew Stafford despite still not having a playoff victory on his resume, and while I think the Lions will play them tough, they still have holes. I don’t believe in their running backs, they do have some talent at WR, and they have improved the O-Line tremendously. Their defense is a mystery but they do have one of the best CB’s in the NFL in Darrius Slay. Season after season the Lions are a tough team to project, but I feel they will fall short both times they take on The Pack this season, the NFC North is Aaron Rodgers division, get used to it.
Onto the Baltimore Ravens. With the additions of WR Jeremy Maclin and WR Mike Wallace, and QB Joe Flacco expected to be back in form by this point in the season, I think this will be another shootout…another shootout I expect Rodgers and the Packers to prevail in. Ultimately this one will come down to K Mason Crosby sealing the Packers’ fate and pushing them to 8-2 on the year.
Up next…the high powered Pittsburgh Steelers. The trio of Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown can stack up against any offense in the league, throw in WR Martavius Bryant (who was fully reinstated by the NFL earlier this week) and CB Joe Haden on the opposite side of the ball. The Steelers have shown struggles on the road, luckily for them they catch Green Bay at home and that changes this significantly. I predict this will be just the first taste we get of Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay. I see this teams meeting up again..say early February? Packers drop one and fall to 8-3.
Many people are very high on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, I’m just not one of them. I think Winston has a tendency to turn the ball over far too often, and the more chances Green Bay’s offense has to find the end zone, the worse off your chances of beating them are. WR Mike Evans will have a big year thanks to additions of WR DeSean Jackson and rookie TE OJ Howard, but this day will belong to Green Bay.
The Cleveland Browns…need I say more? The #1 overall pick belonged to Cleveland for good reason: they just aren’t that good. Don’t get me wrong, there is talent on the roster: #1 pick Myles Garrett, and fellow rookie QB Deshone Kizer provide promise but they have no big game experience. I don’t see a DB on the roster that could stop the Packers’ receiving corps, and I think Cleveland will struggle to move the ball on offense. An uneventful afternoon leaves the Packers at 10-3.
Former MVP Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will give Green Bay all they can handle. Their defense is consistently tough, but last year they lost a lot when CB Josh Norman was allowed to head East, will they recover this year and sure up that secondary? They added an all-purpose weapon in RB Christian McCaffery, and get a healthy Kelvin Benjamin back, but I feel the Packers have a big chip on their shoulder this year and will find a way to win.
These are all based on how I see the season playing out, and nobody can predict what will happen throughout the season with 100% certainty. Far too many things can happen (injuries, trades, suspensions). As a fan of the Green Bay Packers since I was just a boy I will admit…bias comes into play, but I do feel this projection is VERY realistic. The Packers always seem to be in the mix, and this year , they will finally break through for the first time since 2010 and face a familiar foe.
Superbowl LII Prediction
Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Outcome: Aaron Rodgers moves to 2-0 in Superbowl appearances, and the Green Bay Packers add some more hardware to the Halls of Titletown. Packers win 37-34.
Follow me on twitter for more insights @brando_sports
and as always, #GoPackGo.
Photo Credits: Green Bay Packers