Team MVP: Ryan Grant. How can it be anyone else? With Aaron Rodgers inexperienced at the helm of the offense the Packers will rely on their running game heavily and their defense to help Rodgers get coaxed into the starting role, especially early in the season. Another great choice here would be Greg Jennings since Rodgers will need a go to receiver he is comfortable with, but I expect Grant to be the big man in Lambeau this year.
Break-Out Player: James Jones. Brett Favre, yes I finally mentioned him (took long enough), loved Donald Driver and Greg Jennings and combined they were arguably the top receiving core in the NFC last season. Now a new sheriff is in town and Rodgers will play no favorites. I expect the 24 year old Jones to become a threat in the Packers offense this season due to the quarterback change.
Biggest Disappointment: Brett Favre won't be taking the field in a Packers jersey this year. It's sad but it won't be happening for the first time in 17 years. I'm glad we moved on though, it was time for Favre to leave after he retired. He was amazing while he was here and will be greatly missed, but the Packers made the right decision by moving on.
Fantasy Stud: Grant. Running backs dominate fantasy football and Grant averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season in his first year as a starter in the NFL. He should be relied on even more heavily this season since Favre won't be slinging the ball around anymore.
Offensive Outlook: This season's offense is a little less potent than last season's on paper due to the big hole left by Favre. I believe Rodgers can be great for Green Bay but he is unproven so let's not count our chickens before they hatch. The receiving core looks solid with Jennings, Driver, and Jones. The right side of the offensive line looks solid led by Mark Tauscher at tackle, as does the left side with Chad Clifton there. I don't mean to sound repetitive but quarterback is really the biggest question mark on the offense for the first time since the early 90s.
Defensive Diagnosis: Once again the defense looks like it can be counted on for big stops, with no big weaknesses on paper. Charles Woodson and Al Harris can shut down any wide receiver in the league, which takes a lot of pressure off of young safeties Atari Bigby and Nick Collins. The linebackers are coming together nicely with Nick Barnett and A. J. Hawk. At left outside linebacker the Packers are trying to decide on their starter between Brady Poppinga and Brandon Chillar, the only hole I see anywhere on this side of the ball. The defensive line is as good as any in the conference, especially on the left side where Aaron Kampman and Ryan Pickett roam.
"Red Letter" Game: The Dallas game (our third of the season) on September 21st looms very large to me. We have a real tester against Minnesota out of the gate and Detroit follows. In the worst case scenario we should be 1-1 before the NFC regular season champs come to Lambeau. Other pretty big games include Tampa Bay (week 4), Indianapolis (week 7), and New Orleans (week 12).
Projected Record/Outlook: The Packers will go 10-6 this season. With Minnesota, Dallas, and Tampa Bay as three of our first four games this could be very interesting. If we survive that stretch at .500 or better then we get rewarded with Seattle and Indianapolis as two of our next three games. Thanks NFL schedulers. That means in our first seven games we get four playoff teams from last season, and the one team that was arguably the best team not to make the playoffs last season (Minnesota). Then after the bye week we get Indianapolis, the NFL's best team in my opinion, and the Vikings again followed by New Orleans two weeks later. That stretch could destroy our playoff hopes but only one playoff team from last season is in our final five games, Jacksonville.
Parting Smack: After all the talk about Favre and everything it's sort of amazing that we are the only team in our own division that actually knows who their starting quarterback of the future is. Bring on Bears, Lions, and Vikings. Especially Minnesota!
Chicago Bears: The Bears can't even decide who their quarterback is, why would we be scared of them? Then at running back they have an unproven rookie with Matt Forte.
- Daniel Evans