Given that the Packers roster is now set (at least through Game 1, after which DE Datone Jones returns from his one-game suspension and someone on the current roster will have to go), we have an idea what we are looking at in terms of player potential and player reality.
We begin, of course, with the season-long loss of number one WR Jordy Nelson. Dang. But, the Packers arguably still have the best receiving corps in the league, particularly so when QB Aaron Rodgers is throwing to them. He can make even mediocre receivers look good. Plus, with the return of veteran WR James Jones to the Pack, the offensive unit got a real lift. He's a player Rodgers knows and trusts to be where he's supposed to be on a route. Plus, having played seven seasons together, all those little unspoken signals and signs that pass between quarterback and receiver are definitely in play. How Jones fell back into the Packers lap after he was released by the Raiders after one season and then by the Giants...man, a gift from the football gods, indeed.
Photo by Jim Biever, Packers.com
The Season, Quarter by Quarter
1st Quarter Overview: The Packers play the first and last games of this first quarter of the season on the road, starting with Da Bearz and ending with San Francisco. In between, the Pack takes on the Seahawks and Chiefs at Lambeau Field. Chicago has a new coaching staff, but still has Jay Cutler at QB and a non-monster-of-the-Midway defense. The Pack kicks off their Super Bowl journey with a win. Both Kansas City and San Francisco are generally thought to be .500 teams. Seattle, of course, is still a stumbling block for the Packers...until their not.
Prediction: While the Packers could come fast out of the gate, that has not been their style in recent years. While it's quite possible they could go 4-0 here, I'm predicting a stumble somewhere...and it might not even be against the Seahawks.
2nd Quarter Overview: The Packers alternate two home games and two away games, plus a bye inbetween in this stretch: Rams and Chargers at home, then a bye in Week 7, then Denver and Carolina away. St. Louis, San Diego and Carolina are all somewhere around .500 teams, while Denver is among the top echelon in the league thanks to the ever-young Peyton Manning.
Prediction: This stretch will see the Packers go 3-1.
3rd Quarter Overview: The Packers play entirely within the NFC North Division in this quarter of the season, bookended with home and away games against the Lions. In between, the Pack plays at Minnesota and at home against Chicago in primetime on Thanksgiving night. Oh, in case you haven't heard, that game is also the game at which Brett Favre's number will go up on the Ring of Honor inside Lambeau Field. And, as if that isn't enough, Packers legendary quarterback and former head coach, Bart Starr, may also be on hand depending upon his recovery from his strokes (say a prayer for Bart, please). The Packers first goal as a team is to win the Division. So, here we go. It's the heart the season. By the end of this stretch, the Packers will be done with Da Bearz and the Lions, with only the final home season game against the ViQueens remaining against a Division opponent. The Packers need all of these games. Despite an improved Minnesota team and an always dangerous Lions team (although now one without the Mad Stomper Ndamukong Suh)...
Prediction: The Packers will go 4-0 in this stretch.
4th Quarter Overview: The Packers begin and end these final four games of the regular season at home, with back-to-back away games in-between at Oakland and Arizona. First up at home will be a game against the Cowboys and Wisconsin native QB Tony Romo. The Pack ends the regular season, as noted earlier, at home against the ViQueens. Both Dallas and Arizona should still be in the playoff hunt. Oakland? Still a bottom feeder. This is going to be a tough slog and injuries may be coming into play (for many teams, admittedly) at this stage of the season. But the Pack will want to finish strong. They do.
Prediction: The Pack will go 3-1 down the stretch and be well positioned to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Overall Season Prediction: Given the above, we see the Packers going 13-3 and winning the NFC North. From there...Super Bowl or bust, baby!
Go Pack Go!!!
Reminder: Packers Flag Giveaway Contest
Don't miss your chance to win a FREE Packers house flag from PackerFansUnited.com, courtesy of CollinsFlag.com. See our prior post for full details. All entries must be received by kickoff time (noon CT) of the Packers vs. Bears game on Sept. 13, 2015.
C'mon! Get your entries in!!!