Green Bay Packers 2017 Preview

 

Green Bay Packers 2017 Preview: If the Dallas Cowboys don’t win the NFC this season, the Green Bay Packers are expected to. The Packers are currently 10 to 1 to win Super Bowl LII. The odds on Green Bay to win the NFC are much lower at +550. The odds on Green Bay to win the NFC North are at -140.

Green Bay Packers 2017 Preview

Are the odds justified on the Green Bay Packers to not only win the NFC North, but possibly the conference and the Super Bowl? What are Green Bay’s true chances of winning the NFC North, the NFC, and Super Bowl LII?

Below, I attempt to answer those questions. Before doing so, I offer answers to four questions about Green Bay going into the 2017-2018 NFL Season.

Green Bay’s Offense Starts (Again!) with QB Aaron Rodgers

As always at Lambeau, the offense starts with Aaron Rodgers. One of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live, Rodgers goes into the 2017-2018 NFL Season off one of his greatest seasons as a pro. Rodgers garnered some NFL MVP love after his play in 2016.

He threw for a tremendous 4,428 yards, and completed 65.7% of his passes. He threw 40 TD passes, and only tossed 7 interceptions. Based on those stats, Rodgers might have been the best player in the league, yes, better than Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, last season.

But, like what happens in most Green Bay seasons, Rodgers’ numbers dipped in the NFC Playoffs. Not counting his magnificent performance, 362 yards and 4 TD passes, against the Giants in the Wildcard Round, Rodgers just didn’t show up in either the NFC Divisional Playoff game versus Dallas, or the NFC Championship against the Atlanta Falcons.

Versus Dallas, Rodgers’ stat line was 355 yards, 2 TD passes, and a pick. Green Bay managed to beat the Cowboys 34 to 31. But, in the NFC Championship, Rodgers threw for 287 yards. He completed only 60% of his passes. He threw an interception.

Sure, he also threw 3 TD passes. All 3 of the TD passes were in the second half. Atlanta had taken a 24 to 0 lead into halftime.
If Green Bay has any shot of taking their season further than just an NFC North win, Rodgers must step it up in the post-season. He can’t afford to have off days in the NFC Playoffs.

Is Ty Montgomery the Answer at Running Back?

Ty Montgomery played exceptionally well at running back after taking over for Eddie Lacy last season. Montgomery was so effective that the Packers allowed Lacy to head off to Seattle. The Seahawks have big plans for Lacy.

The Packers must have big plans for Ty Montgomery. In 6 games started, Montgomery rushed for 457 yards from 77 carries. That’s a nice 5.9 per carry average. He also scored 4 rushing TDs. Because Montgomery is a converted wide receiver, he caught 44 passes for 438 yards.

He’s a dual threat RB. The major question, the one that Montgomery must answer, is if he can take the beating that comes with being the every down running back. Montgomery was hurt during the post-season. Can he take the wear and tear that every down RBs in the NFL take?

I’m not sure Ty Montgomery can.

If Montgomery isn’t the answer at RB who is the answer at RB?

If Ty Montgomery isn’t the answer at running back, who is? My gut tells me that coach Mike McCarthy uses 2, maybe, 3, running backs ala Sean Payton in New Orleans. McCarthy knows that Montgomery isn’t going to carry the football 20 times a game. But, he wants to rush the football 20 times a game.

Aaron Jones, Devante May, Kalif Phillips, William Stanback, and Jamal Williams are the other running backs listed on Green Bay’s roster. Not even one of those players has ever carried the football for GB. That could be a good thing.

It’s a sign that McCarthy knows what he’s doing with the RB position.

How Will Green Bay’s Defense Perform?

Green Bay’s defense was exceptional versus the run last season. The Packers ended up ranked 8th versus the rush. Green Bay’s D allowed 94.7 rushing yards per game. That’s much better than I thought the defense would do against the rush before the season started.

But, the Packers’ defense allowed opposing quarterbacks to average an unbelievable 269.2 passing yards per game. Because the Packers’ pass defense played so badly in 2016, McCarthy and Green Bay’s front office spent its first 3 draft picks on defenders.
With the first pick in Round 2, the Packers selected corner Kevin King. They also selected safety Josh Jones in Round 2. In Round 3, Green Bay selected DT Montravius Adams.

All 3 players should contribute, but I’m not sure if any of the 3 can have a big impact on Green Bay’s pass defense. I just don’t see the Packers secondary, or pass rush, improving that much this season.

What’s Green Bay’s Schedule Looking Like?

I can’t imagine a more difficult schedule in the NFL. The Packers start the season by battling Seattle at home, Atlanta on the road, and Cincinnati at home. Then, Green Bay battles Chicago at home, then at Dallas, at Minnesota, and at home again versus New Orleans.

Green Bay’s bye is in Week 7. Their first 7 games are an absolute gauntlet. Starting in Week 8, Green Bay takes on Detroit at home before Chicago on the road. The next 3 games are almost impossible to predict.

The Packers battle the Baltimore Ravens at home. Then, they go on the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The third game is a home battle versus much improved Tampa Bay. At Cleveland and at Carolina, are followed by a home game versus Minnesota in Week 16. In Week 17, Green Bay takes on Detroit on the road.

Like I wrote, Green Bay’s schedule is ridiculous. Green Bay went 10 and 6 last season. I believe they’re no better than 9 and 7 this season. I believe that Green Bay loses to Seattle, Atlanta, and Dallas. That’s 3 losses. The Packers should lose to Pittsburgh, and at least once to Detroit. That’s 2 more loses. We’re up to 5.

I don’t believe Green Bay beats Carolina on the road. Not when Carolina has stud RB Christian McCaffrey playing in the same backfield as 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. That’s 6 losses.

New Orleans, Cincinnati, Minnesota, or Tampa Bay beats Green Bay this season. That’s the 7th loss. Green Bay could lose 2 out of the 4 games versus those teams. The Packers might finish 8-8 this season.

Green Bay Packers 2017 Preview: Bottom Line on NFC Championship and Super Bowl Odds

The Packers have one of the toughest schedules in football. I don’t believe they’re a lock to win the NFC North. I think that both Minnesota and Detroit are going to be much improved. Chicago should be improved as well although it’s difficult for me to see the Bears challenging for supremacy in the NFC North.

What I really see Green Bay struggling with is the pass. Seattle, New Orleans, Atlanta, Carolina, and Pittsburgh start 5 of the Top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. It’s a lot of pressure to try to keep up with the amount of points that Russell, Drew, Matty Ice, Cam, and Big Ben can lay on you.

I do believe that McCarthy has a strategy for Green Bay’s rushing attack. But, it may not matter. Aaron Rodgers has trouble closing the door on teams in the playoffs. I’m not sure if anything has changed for Rodgers.

Maybe, that’s the biggest reason why I believe too much faith is being put into the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC Championship and Super Bowl LII. Green Bay just hasn’t gone through enough changes for me to see them beating Dallas, Atlanta, or Seattle in the NFC.

The Packers are at +550 to win the NFC Championship. I think they’re closer to +850 odds. When it comes to Super Bowl LII, I don’t believe the Packers are worth a bet at anything less than 25 to 1 odds.