Welcome back into our lives NFL. I am back writing some blogs about the Green & Gold this season. With one game under our belts, it already looks like it is going to be one fun and wild ride this season. The Packers are picked by many to advance to the big game in New Orleans this February, which scares me, but I know they have the talent to do so. One thing us fans have to remember though, is that we can not expect a repeat of last season, 15-1 is unbelievable and hard enough to do just once, let alone in back-to-back seasons. So let's examine my keys to a successful 2012 season. I will also give you my prediction at the end.
1. Defense - I fully believe that defense wins championships. The Packers D was good when they brought the Lombardi Trophy home in 2010. With the offense this team has, they don't have to be a top 10 defense, they just need to be a top 20 defense. There will be several rookies playing big roles this year, Nick Perry at outside linebacker opposite of Clay Mathews, Jerel Worthy on the defensive line, plus you have D.J. Smith starting at inside linebacker with Desmond Bishop out for the year. They key to being a better defense will depend on if the veteran players can bounce back from a down year. I am looking at you B.J. Raji, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. Clay Mathews will have a better year statistically if they can generate a pass rush opposite of him. Like, I said they only need to be a top 20 defense, the offense will carry the load again.
2. Offensive Line - To me this is the one position that they can least afford to suffer an injury or poor play as they only have 7 offensive lineman. These 7 men to keep Aaron Rodgers will protected, as he is our franchise and if he misses any time, this season could get ugly. Marshall Newhouse needs to protect his blindside because behind him is undrafted rookie free agent - Don Barclay. I have a feeling that they will slide protection Newhouse's way with keeping a tight end in or running back. With the plethora of pass rushers they Packers will be facing this year, we need our starting 5 to hold up all 16 games. I do think, that Ted Thompson will add another offensive lineman to the roster in the first month of the season.
3. Secondary - It will all come back to the defense. This secondary can not give up as many big plays as it did last year. I believe that moving Charles Woodson to Safety will help, but they say that his role won't be any different than it was last year. Starting Jarrett Bush opposite of Tramon Williams, doesn't exactly give me confidence as Bush is very physical and a great special teamer but he can't cover anyone. Sam Shields has struggled this pre-season and he will need to be better than last year to help turn this thing around. A pass rush from up front will definitely do wonders for the secondary.
4. Wide Receivers - This is a very talented and deep group of guys that Ted has assembled. The book is out on their weakness though and the Kansas City game and New York Giants playoff game, gave defensive coordinators some film on what to do to slow them done. In both games, the defense played press coverage and the receivers struggled to get off the line of scrimmage. They played with aggressive man coverage underneath and had two safeties over the top to help out. It is up to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Donald Driver to win their one-on-one battles and get off the line of scrimmage quickly to beat that type of coverage.
With that said, a team that finishes 15-1 will usually have a set back of 3.9 losses, taking that into affect and looking at the schedule that Packers have, which will not be easy, especially the first month of the season, I see the Packers finishing 11-5 and getting to the playoffs. This is a very dangerous team and they will be tested during the regular season, but this is the NFL where parity reigns.
So what are your thoughts, how do you think the Pack will finish this year? What do you think has to happen for the Packers to get to the big game in February?