The last time I made this prediction was…in 2010. This year feels odd to me. As I went about making my season predictions I really struggled. As with any season there are a number of factors that could quickly derail many of the predictions. And that is certainly the case with the Packers. But barring a major injury to a major player (like Rodgers, Peppers, Matthews or Jordy) or a crazy run of form by either the Saints or Philly, I think the Packers will be the team to beat.
I expect, as in years past, that the offense will carry the team this year. In fact I am anticipating an absolutely wild season from the Packers offense. I think Rodgers will have his best overall year yet and our running game will be very difficult to stop (Lacy of course and both back ups – DuJuan Harris looked fantastic in the 3rd preseason game – wow). I am guessing that several offensive records will be broken this year.
While the offense will carry us this year, I do expect more significant contributions from special teams and the return game in particular (though it would have even better potential had Abbrederis not gotten injured) – and from our defense. I think TT’s acquisition of Peppers is really one of the major reasons why I am picking the Packers to win the Super Bowl. I am convinced this will prove to be a quietly huge move (and of course I love it because he FINALLY picked up a high impact veteran in free agency). With Peppers opposite (or even next to) Matthews, the Packers pass rush becomes instantly legit. Even considering Peppers age and even allowing for the likelihood that he’s lost a step – opposing QBs can’t feel too good knowing Peppers and Matthews will be in pursuit. Perhaps more important than anything though, a better pass rush should help our young but talented secondary and our overall pass D. With talent like Hyde, Hayward, Burnett, Tramon, Shields and Clinton-Dix – and now a quality pass rush – I think the Packers pass D could go from near the bottom in 2013 to top 5 this year. Seriously. (Not so sure about the run defense though…actually pretty concerned about this…as well as concerned about screens/passes to RBs/TEs given what appears to be a weak middle of the defense…yet again…) Of course, a bunch of talent on the field doesn’t mean squat if it’s not managed correctly. And while I have been an advocate of dumping Capers due to several years of poor coaching, I’m willing to give him another shot here (mostly because I suppose we have to). Yet for some reason – I think he’ll manage to pull things together this year.
Super Bowl – Packers 31, New England 23.