NFC NORTH PREVIEW
August 24th, 2016
The NFC North will truly be a tale of two teams, as the Packers will joint the Vikings as the playoff representatives for the North. It’s likely the Wild Card team will come from this division as well, as the NFC North matches up with the AFC South which could very well be four wins for both teams. The Packers bring in the offensive unit as last season, with the hopes of getting back Jordy Nelson at 100% and Eddie Lacy at 100 pounds less than what he weighed last season. If both happen, this offense will be almost impossible to defend for four quarters.
The defense brings a ton of experience to the table as well, but is slightly older, slightly slower, and lacks playmakers. The are still good at every position and have some depth with Kenny Clark and two other 2016 draft picks listed as next in line on the depth chart. Clark will surely jump if there’s an injury, but as of right now, the transition to a youth movement on defense seems a season away. Whether or not that will catch up to the Packers is still to be determined, but the this defense will get a good shot at the Vikings and their running game in Week 2.
Don’t forget about James Starks. He will get in the rotation plenty regardless of how well Lacy performs. He’s experienced, a great blocker and can get to the edge, plus has great hands. He did well as the RB1 last season, covering for a bloated Lacy, but now they make an ideal 1-2 punch at the RB position. Starks’ presence makes the offense a whole lot more versatile.
The guy this offense depends needs to come correct in Week 1. Jordy Nelson’s injury pretty much sunk their SB hopes, and they were still great team last season. But the team didn’t seem right at all on offense, and it was clear Aaron Rodgers missed his WR1 last year. They can’t keep on depending on Hail Mary passes to get into the playoffs this season. Nelson is on the wrong side of 30 and has been on the shelf for three weeks with a bum knee, though it’s the opposite of the one that was surgically repaired last season. #87 needs to get with it quickly this season.
A case can be made for Aaron Rodgers as the number one QB this season, especially with a solid running game, and all of his receivers in tact. He has a solid receiving unit including backups and a great TE in Richard Rodgers and a sleeper in Jared Cook. If the running backs can stick to non-fat cheese this season, Rodgers will have all the room in the world to work, and the time to make plays as well. He’s gonna be great this year.
Even if it’s by default, the Packers are a 10-win team easily this season. Credit two games against both Detroit and Chicago, but they have a manageable schedule the rest of the way as well. They have tough matchups against Jacksonville, Washington and Seattle, but should be favorites the rest of the way aside from a game at Minnesota. The North is top heavy this season and a Christmas Eve game at home to Minnesota should decide it. Fingers crossed for a blistering snowstorm.
The Green Bay Packers are a -4.0 point Road Favorite vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 1. Get more NFL week 1 odds at the Phoenix Sportsticket.