For all of the love the NFC North got prior to the 2013 season and for all the hate the AFC West received. The Green Bay Packers won that division with an 8-7-1 record, while three teams from the AFC West made it to the playoffs. However, the love continues as most of us are still believers in Aaron Rodgers more than we are in the Packers ability to stay healthy for an entire season.
4. Green Bay Packers (2013 Record: 8-7-1)
The Packers last season lost to every single team that made it into the playoffs and were barely beating the mediocre teams. Then there was that brutal stretch of games where Rodgers was out that saw the Packers go from 5-2 to 7-7-1. He came back just in time, though, taking down Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears for the NFC North Title and a home playoff game.
Key Losses: Evan Dietrich-Smith, James Jones, Marshall Newhouse
Key Acquisitions: Julius Peppers
Graded with the best draft class of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Packers scored some big time talent that has definitely overshadowed a quiet, but productive offseason. They bolstered their defense with Peppers and Clinton-Dix, but also their offense when they picked up Davante Adams out of Fresno State, along with my favorite sleeper wide receiver in Jeff Janis. An already elite team got better, but the question of health still remains for this team as they make an attempt to return the Lombardi Trophy to its home city.
The Packers 2014 schedule presents a unique challenge with five road games in their first eight games, opening at the Seattle Seahawks. That's not the worst of it, the Packers will have to play two road divisional games and a road game against the New Orleans Saints. It doesn't get any easier from there after their midseason Bye as they will have to play the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots before the season is finished, but the advantage should shift to the Packers favor as those games will be on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
Projected Record: 12-4
Kyle: Aaron Rodgers had this interview a year or two back where he talked about reaching the pinnacle of the NFL, and how becoming the best in the NFL (winning the Super Bowl) left him without the same drive. While understandable, his words resonated with me. Does every Super Bowl-winning quarterback suffer from this? Does this explain how Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have failed to finish in their multiple playoff experiences since winning it all half a decade ago?
Mike: The Packers have the 2nd best QB in the NFL behind the Broncos Peyton Manning. Their defense has been the big question mark but barring injuries of Denver Bronco proportions, the defense should be better suited to support the firepower on offense.
Topher: The Packers have possibly the 2nd best QB in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers and a young groups of RB’s and WR’s to help him out. Issues along their offensive line still worry me but this is a talented and well coached team, to me they have the potential to be the best team in the NFC outside of the contention of the NFC West.
Laurie: The Packers signed a guy nicknamed HaHa. Laugh if you want, but you’ll be the only one laughing at the end of the season when the Packers are legitimately vying to be the NFC rep at the Super Bowl. With a healthy Aaron Rodgers, they will dominate.
Ian: Ha ha! Laurie is right.
Jon: His real name is "Ha’Sean," in case anyone is wondering.
Jacob: The Packers will have a hard time losing many games if Aaron Rodgers and his insanely-talented offense can stay healthy. The Pack’s weak pass rush of 2013 should at least marginally be aided by the addition of Julius Peppers, and there were no significant losses on defense. Not to echo the rest of the staffers, but Green Bay is the most serious Super Bowl contender outside of the NFC West. 11-13 wins.
Pete: Dynamic offense coupled with an improving defense is a recipe for success. I think the NFC representative will be chosen from one of these three teams: Saints, Packers, Niners, in that order.