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NFC North Preview: Green Bay Packers

By Collin Post

After posting a 15-1 record last season but having a disappointing playoffs, the Green Bay Packers look to start, and finish, the 2012 season strong this year.

Aaron Rodgers finished 2nd in the NFL in passing touchdowns with 45 and will be a major key to the Packers' success. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Last season, Green Bay was as bipolar of a team as you could have.

Led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is the reigning MVP, the Packers had one of the most lethal passing attacks in the game last season. Rodgers led the NFL with a 122.5 quarterback rating, was second in the league with 45 touchdown passes, and had the fewest interceptions thrown among qualifying quarterbacks.

In addition to Rodgers, the Packers also had one of the best receiving corps in the league, led by Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.

The area for improvement on this offense is the running game. The Packers ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in all rushing statistics last season, and this season does not show any signs of being different. The addition of Cedric Benson should ease the pain of some cheese heads but as a 30-year-old running back in a pass-happy system, you never know what to expect.

On the other side of the ball, the Pack had a surprisingly bad defense last year.

They gave up the most passing yards of any defense in the game and had mediocre run-stopping abilities. This black hole was addressed during this last spring’s draft, spending their first six draft picks on defensive players, most notably was linebacker Nick Perry out of USC.


Clay Matthews and the rest of the defense will need to perform better than last season, especially with seemingly every other offense in the division getting better. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Perry is projected to be the pass rusher opposite of Clay Matthews that Green Bay has needed for a few years now, and with a 6’3” 265 pound frame, it is easy to see where the hype comes from.

Even though Green Bay should have an improved defense, there will be plenty of rookie mistakes and in a division where the offenses have only gotten better over the offseason, these young players will be tested early.

After looking at the Packers schedule, if they can get through the first four weeks unscathed, this could be another special season for the cheese heads.

However, I look for the Packers to split their first two games against San Francisco and Chicago. Green Bay should then handle the Seahawks in the following week. After that, New Orleans comes to town and I am going to give the Packers the win here due to all the offseason drama the Saints have endured this year.

Over the next five weeks, I see Green Bay winning against Indianapolis, St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Arizona with a tough road loss to Houston on October 14th. Green Bay will then come out of their bye week with a 7-2 record, but will get beat in consecutive weeks by the Lions in Detroit on November 18th and by the reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants the following week.

I then see Green Bay winning their remaining 5 games, finishing the season with a 12-4 record and being poised for a deep playoff run again in 2013.