The Green Bay Packers were given a reality check with a stunning blowout loss at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in last year’s NFC Divisional round. As tough as it was for Packers’ fans to deal with at the time, it may have been the best thing for the franchise in the long term. Green Bay was able to identify its weaknesses and spend the offseason making the necessary adjustments to prepare for a new season. The Packers are among the Super Bowl favorites in the NFC, with three key changes that have pushed them among the league’s top contenders.
2013 Super Bowl Odds: +1,100
Notable Change #1: Running Back Position Stabilized Through Draft
One of the biggest issues in Green Bay last season was the lack of a stable running back core, with Cedric Benson struggling to play like a No. 1 running back while Alex Green and James Starks both averaged less than four yards per carry. The Packers drafted running back Eddie Lacy in the second round to take over the spot vacated by Benson, and he should be able to solidify the position as the top back from that class. The offensive line should be better with Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton moving to the left side while Evan Dietrich-Smith gets a long look as the starting center, and that should open up even more holes for Lacy, Green, and Starks.
Notable Change #2: Rodgers Poised To Return To MVP Form
Aaron Rodgers owns the highest passer rating in the NFL since 2008 at 105.6, but he struggled last season thanks to issues on the line and all of the pressure he faced without a legitimate rushing threat in the backfield. Rodgers is still 29-years old, and with a better line and a more stable running game, he is poised for a bounce back year. He will have to trust his teammates more and avoid holding on to the football to long, and if he does those two things then we should see Rodgers return to MVP form.
Notable Change #3: Defense Ready For Top NFC Contenders
One of the biggest problems in last year’s NFC Championship game was the fact that the Packers couldn’t slow down Colin Kaepernick, who torched them again and again with his rushing ability until the game was out of reach. Green Bay drafted Datone Jones in the first round to address their defensive line, and with Clay Matthews healthy again as well as Nick Perry more comfortable in the middle, the defense is much better suited to get after some of the faster running quarterbacks in the NFC. Most importantly, Green Bay will know what is coming in 2013 having already faced Kaepernick and learned from their mistakes, so they won’t be caught off guard the way that they were in last season’s playoff loss.
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