By Mike Lucas
Featured Columnist

The Green Bay Packers finished last season with an 11-5 record, but ended up losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs.

The Packers were extremely quiet during free agency, with their biggest signing being backup quarterback Vince Young.

On the other hand, the Packers watched a lot of important players from last year’s roster leave in free agency, including wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, safety Charles Woodson, linebacker Erik Walden and running backs Ryan Grant and Cedric Benson.

Even with all these departures, expectations are Super Bowl or bust for this Green Bay team in 2013.

Here is the Packers 2013-14 NFL season preview.


Aaron Rodgers is 100-percent, without a doubt the best quarterback in the NFL. He can run, make every throw necessary and rarely makes mistakes. The most amazing part about Rodgers is that he puts up these crazy numbers even though the Packers running game is non-existent and their offensive line is awful.

Last season, Rodgers was sacked 51 times, which was the most in the NFL. This insane amount of sacks is mostly due to the offensive line’s poor play, but it is also due to Rodgers holding onto the ball too long at times.

The Packers made some changes to their offensive line in camp this year, moving Bryan Bulaga to left tackle and Josh Sitton will move from right guard to left guard. This seemed good in theory, but Bulaga tore his ACL in an inter-squad scrimmage last week and will miss the rest of the season.

This injury moves rookie David Bakhtiari to the left tackle position to protect Rodgers’ blind side. It’s still early, but it’s looking like the offensive line could be an issue for Green Bay again in 2013.

The Packers drafted two running backs in the 2013 NFL Draft in hopes of turning around their run game: Eddie Lacy out of Alabama and Johnathan Franklin out of UCLA. Lacy is a power back and Franklin is more of a speedster.

According to the Packers first official depth chart, Alex Green is slated in as their starting running back, and Lacy is his backup. Green Bay will most likely use a committee of running backs to try to take some pressure of Rodgers and the passing game.

The departure of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings may seem huge when you look at the Packers receiving core, but the reality is that Green Bay is returning its top four receivers from 2012: Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley.

All four of these players caught more passes individually than Jennings and Driver did combined in 2012 (Jennings only played in eight games last year). As long as these guys can stay healthy, Green Bay should have one of the top passing offenses in the league again this year.


If you look at the statistics, Green Bay’s defense wasn’t that bad last year. However, when you look at the tape of the biggest games of the season, you can see that the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

One thing the Packers did well defensively in 2012 was get to the opposing QB. As a team, the Packers recorded 47 sacks, which was one of the top totals in the league last season.

When the Packers gave Clay Matthews his contract extension this offseason, they recognized that they needed someone to line up opposite of him to get to the passer as well, which is why they drafted Datone Jones in the first round of the NFL Draft. Jones, along with Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji, should form one of the better 3-4 defensive lines in the league.

Green Bay’s linebacking unit is led by Matthews and middle linebacker AJ Hawk. Brad Jones plays the other inside linebacker position and Nick Perry plays the other outside linebacker position. This isn’t the most talented group of linebackers in the NFL, but they are a balanced unit. Matthews and Perry are better as pass rushers while Jones and Hawk are more traditional, run-stopping defenders.

Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are the Packers two outside cornerbacks, and they’re both solid players. Casey Heyward plays the slot CB, and he had a tremendous rookie season in 2012 picking off six passes.

Green Bay’s leading tackler from 2012, Morgan Burnett, holds down the free safety spot while third year man M.D. Jennings plays the strong safety spot. Burnett is solid, but Jennings still has a lot to prove in this league. Jennings got some playing time last season as a rookie when Charles Woodson went down with an injury. He played okay, but not great.

The Packers defensive success in 2013 could depend on how well their secondary plays, and especially on how well Jennings play in his first full season as a starter.

2013 Prediction: 11-5

Green Bay still has Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback, which means they’re going to be really good again in 2013. Look for the running game to be much better in 2013 than it was in 2012, which will help balance out the offense and take some pressure off of Rodgers.

Losing Bulaga for the season is a huge loss, but Rodgers has been successful behind a bad o-line before. The defense is a bigger question mark than the offense, but they won’t have to be great for the Packers to win games.

Wins: Washington, @Cincinnati, Detroit, @Baltimore, Cleveland, @Minnesota, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minnesota, @Detroit, @Chicago

Losses: @San Francisco, @New York (Giants), Atlanta, @Dallas, Pittsburgh


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