NFL preview 2017: Green Bay Packers

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass during the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers on January 15, 2017, at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass during the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers on January 15, 2017, at AT /

The Green Bay Packers won the NFC North last season, and with a loaded roster returning, they just may do so again in 2017.

Last season, the Green Bay Packers put together one of the more impressive comebacks we have seen in the regular season. Staring at a 4-6 record, star quarterback Aaron Rodgers told everybody to relax again, stating the team would not lose another regular season game. Considered a laughable statement at the time, Rodgers made good on his promise, reeling off six straight wins to finish the regular season.

In the process, the Packers would leapfrog over the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North in the final weekend of the regular season. Heading into the playoffs with a full head of steam, the Packers would make easy work of the New York Giants by dominating them in the second half of their 38-13 Wild Card victory. The following week, the Packers went into Dallas and knocked off the No. 1 seeded Cowboys, thanks to a miracle throw and catch late in the fourth quarter.

With all of that momentum heading into the NFC Championship Game, the Packers suffered a letdown, losing big to the Atlanta Falcons. Still, it was an incredible journey from where they sat at 4-6, and Rodgers once again proved that he is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. He finished the season with 40 touchdowns against only seven interceptions, putting to rest any talk that he may be on the decline.

Heading into the 2017 season, the Packers are a favorite to once again at least make it to the NFC Championship Game. They have a plethora of talent on the offensive side of the ball, including wide receiver Davante Adams, who had a breakout season in 2016. The combination of Adams and Jordy Nelson combined for 26 of Rodgers’ 40 touchdowns, and lets not forget the Packers also have Randall Cobb in that wideout group.

This offseason, the team went out and grabbed tight end Martellus Bennett from the New England Patriots. Bennett won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last season, proving to be another solid weapon for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He will bring stability to a position that was manned by both Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers last season.

While the team expected Eddie Lacy to be their workhorse last season, it was actually a wide receiver that stepped up and became their top running back. Ty Montgomery finished the year with over 800 all-purpose yards, and comes into the 2017 as the team’s feature back once again. The Packers drafted Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones to help shoulder the load this season, and both have the talent to be impact players at the NFL level.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers were solid up front against the run last season. They will have a couple of early tests this season, and it will really give an indication of where this unit is as a whole. In 2016, Green Bay finished No. 8 in the league in terms of rushing yards allowed, but their secondary has to match that kind of production if they want to be a Super Bowl team in 2017.

Defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is one of the best at his position, and safety Morgan Burnett is a very good partner on the back end. The team did spend their first draft pick on cornerback Kevin King, though they did not pick until the second round. King was a star during his time at the University of Washington, and has top coverage ability to go along with world-class speed.

This Packers team was ranked No. 31 against the pass last season, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against some of the best quarterbacks in the league. The NFC North has to play the NFC South this season, which means the Packers will have to face four very good quarterbacks in Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, and Jameis Winston. Green Bay is going to be tested early and often in the passing game.

Despite the fact that this team was already a playoff team after last season, it did go out and get better in some of their weak spots. That is a scary situation for the opposition, especially the teams that have to play them twice this season from the NFC North.

The schedule is tough out of the gate for the Packers, so they cannot afford to get off to a slow start like they did last season. They host the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, and then have to go down to Atlanta for a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game. They do come home for two games after the Falcons, but then have to travel back to Dallas in a rematch of their NFC Divisional Round game.

The bottom line is that this Packers team is a Super Bowl-caliber unit, that can outscore anybody on any given day. If they can get solid defense, especially in the back end, they should be able to finish in the top-two spots in the NFC. The NFC North should be theirs for the taking this season, as Rodgers looks to win another Most Valuable Player Award.


During last season, the Packers used both Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers as their options at tight end in the passing game. While Rodgers returns this season, Cook has been replaced by Martellus Bennett, who should bring more production out of the position. Last season, Cook and Rodgers combined for 60 catches, while Bennett caught 55 on his own, as he helped the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl win.

Aaron Rodgers is going to love having Bennett as a target, and it should make this offense even more dangerous. Bennett has had more than 70 targets in every season since 2012, and with how much the Packers pass, he could have a season like he did in 2014 with the Chicago Bears, where he caught 90 balls.

Bennett hauled in seven touchdowns last season, more than doubling the output the Packers got from Cook and Rodgers, so teams better be aware when the Packers get down in the red zone in 2017.

Best Case

The best case scenario for the Packers is very simple. This team has the talent on both sides of the ball to win the Super Bowl this season, and that is certainly going to be the goal as they head into the regular season. Aaron Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he has the weapons to possibly win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award this season.

While the schedule is daunting, it is spaced out well for the Packers, who will play at home for four of their first seven games. The early slate is tough, but I do not expect them to falter out of the gate like they did in 2016. This is a team that will win at least 11 games this season, cruising to a possible top spot in the NFC Playoffs.

If the Packers can get the NFC title to go through Lambeau Field, it could be a special season for the Green Bay faithful.

Worst Case

Probably the worst case scenario for this team is that it fails to protect against the pass once again in 2017. The schedule is loaded with talented quarterbacks, so they cannot afford to play soft in the secondary against the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside of the division. Kevin King needs to prove to be the real deal, because it was proven that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix cannot do it all by himself in the secondary.

With an offense that is going to be explosive, the defense will likely be on the field a lot this season. The main focus is going to be getting stops, and teams are going to try to exploit them through the air. If the Packers stumble out of the gate like they did last season, they do not have the schedule to make up the ground late in the year.

The absolute worst I see this team doing is finishing with nine wins, but still grabbing one of the two Wild Card spots.

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Final Word

The 2017 version of the Green Bay Packers are going to be good, and it will be up to their defense to figure out just how good they can be. Rodgers proved there is still plenty left in the tank last season, and is definitely headed for another prolific season. The schedule is tough early, but if they can head into the bye week with only two losses, the may be in for a 12-win season.

Regardless of how they get there, this team is built to make another long run through the playoffs, and if they do get the Falcons again, I believe they have a better roster, and can represent the NFC in Super Bowl LII.