claybike

Last year: 11-5, NFC North champions, lost in Divisional Round

Acquisitions: Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy

Departures: Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Desmond Bishop, Cedric Benson

Vegas 2013 win total over/under: 10 1/2 wins

Verdict: OVER

rodgersface

Five bets Aaron Rodgers has welshed on:

– Would have to wear a 49ers jersey if the Packers lost to San Francisco last September.

– Would have to pay out his next year’s salary if Ryan Braun were guilty of PED use.

– Would have to pretend to like Brett Favre if the team ever welcomed him back.

– Would have to receive 20 frat paddle licks from Clay Matthews if he couldn’t crush-slay both Deschanel girls.

– Would have to double check whether you received all available discounts if you signed with State Farm.

Fan forecast, by kommenter packman_jon:

gbg

Almost every fan has expectations – mostly unrealistic – for their team this year. For me, at the very least, I’m hoping that the 2013 Packers will avoid ending the season like they did in 2012. This team has enough talent on both sides of the ball (mostly the offense side) to win it all again, but more than likely, this season will end with the team coming short and me thinking “Well, at least I’m not a Vikings/Bears/Bills/Jets/Raiders/etc” fan.

The biggest issue coming into training camp: Who will replace Desmond Bishop? His playmaking abilities will be missed, and it is unlikely someone will be able to do the same. Brad Jones is likely to start, though he did a fine job last year, he lacks the playmaking ability Bishop had. Side note: if the guys on D learn to tackle and (the LBs and DL) keep their shoulders square, the Packers will drastically improve on defense. Currently, the front seven have a bad tendency to turn their shoulders and yell “LEEEEEROOOYY JENNNNKINS” while attacking the ball carrier. It’s very frustrating.

Defensive line is also a concern. Cullen Jenkins had been quietly a beast for the Packers from 2006 to the 2010, playing a huge role from any position including 4-3/3-4 DE and 3-tech DT. His loss was largely felt in 2011, when the D turned from a strength to a 3 Pro Bowlers and 8 traffic cones. As a rookie, 2nd round pick Jerel Worthy showed flashes of brilliance last year, but an injury cut his rookie season short and might not contribute until later this year. Datone Jones will be the logical front-runner to start, but keep an eye on 4th-round pick Mike Daniels who played well last year. Josh Boyd, a 5th round pick this year is expected to rotate on defense.

On NT, BJ Raji will start but will need some to step up and substitute for BJ to avoid wear on the Freeze by playing nearly every damn snap last year. Ex-Practice Squad NT Jordan Miller and UDFA Gilbert Pena are the likely backups (and should make Gregggggggggggggg Easterbrook happy if 2009 1st round draft pick Raji gets hurt, even if they play like shit).

Tramon Williams’ drop in production last year, Morgan Burnett is currently the team’s best defensive back. While he has yet to match the play of Nick Collins, he’s done a great job both playing deep and near the LOS. For the second safety position, it will be between Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings. While McMillian has better upside and a bigger hitter, Jennings plays the deep ball better. If McMillian can’t improve his coverage skills, Jennings should get the starting job because of Capers’ Cover 2 blitz scheme.

On offense, the primary focus will be to generate some form of ground game. Never has this been more apparent since the two losses to the 49ers last year, where the 9ers D was able to run press coverage and stop Packers’ rhythm of the passing game. This is critical besides the generic saying of having balance on offense – the Packers passing game is very much based on tempo and rhythm, working optimally when Rodgers and his receivers can make the basic throws – the slant, crossing route, etc. Eddie Lacy offers power running on the inside, very similar to James Starks but not injury-prone. Alex Green, loved by the coaches in his rookie year, has been a disappointment.

The last area of focus will the shuffling of the offensive line. Right tackle Bulaga and right guard Sitton – the latter one of the best offensive linemen back during GB’s Super Bowl run – will switch to the left side . Bulaga lacks the strength and power Marshall Newhouse – last year’s LT – but has far better footwork and, well, better pass blocker. The switch should pay off, but I’d like to see some more improvement from 2012’s LG, TJ Lang if he is to succeed. On the bench, Reginald Don Barclay was solid last year, especially after decided to use his time on the holodeck to improve his blocking skills. He’s probably not going to start, but I had to make that TNG reference. 2011 1st round pick Derek Sherrod has been disappointing and I’ll be happy if he even plays.

So why the hell did I try to summarize each issue at stake for (almost) every position group? Nationally, this team seems to be expected to win the Super Bowl every year. But, like every other team, there are flaws, but not holes that need to be badly addressed. Having one of the best passing offenses of the past five years and Clay goddamn Matthews on the other side of the ball will win a team many games, but still won’t be able to make up for the weak spots. Just like last year, the Packers will make the playoffs and lose in the 2nd or NFC title game because of the weakness that can be exploited and how damn hard it is to win a Super Bowl. Just ask Seahawks, Bills and VIkings fans!