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Sunday August 31, 2008 8:40 am

NFL Preview: Green Bay Packers




Posted by Charles Mitri Categories: NFL,

Aaron Rodgers has some big shoes to fill with the Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY PACKERS
2007 RECORD: 13-3
Overview: Cheddarheads can take heart in the fact that losing Fabulous Brett Favre to the New York Jets does not mean that the Green Bay Packers will drop from the top of the Black and Blue NFC North Division. Fifth year QB Aaron Rodgers posted respectable stats in ‘07 with 20 completions in 28 passing attempts with 1 TD. Look for Rodgers to make the most of his first full season in the Green and Gold.

Offense: The elements always play a crucial factor at Lambeau Field, putting emphasis on the ground game. Ryan Grant, third year man out of Notre Dame, rushed for 956 yards on 188 carries last year for 5.1 yards per carry. Brandon Jackson, third year man out of Nebraska, added 267 yards on 75 carries—solid numbers by anyone’s standard. Grant and Jackson may not be Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor but they get the job done. When Rodgers does go to an aerial attack, receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings will be there to haul in the leather. Driver logged 1048 yards for 12.8 yards per reception in ‘07 while Jennings added 920 for 17.4 yards per catch. That spells trouble for most opposing secondaries who will have to resort to single man coverage.
Defense: Green Bay’s front four of Aaron Kampman, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, and Cullen Jenkins are a potent blend of youth and experience. DT Jenkins is entering his ninth season while DE Kampman is entering his eighth campaign and Jenkins his sixth. The only suspect areas of the Pack defense are the linebacker corps and secondary. With the exceptions of safety Nick Collins (four seasons) and linebacker Tracy White (six seasons) the remainder of the secondary and linebacker corps are awfully inexperienced.  But when the wind starts whipping around Lambeau in November and December, opposing quarterbacks will find a lot of passes falling harmlessly to the tundra and running backs willing be slipping to the turf for scant yardage.
Rookies: QBs Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn will get little playing time over the year unless Rodgers goes down with an injury. Cornerbacks Pat Lee and Scorpio Babers will be immediately tested by opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Making the transition from the college game to the real deal is a trial by fire. Hopefully, for the Packers and their fans, Lee and Babers will be fast learners.
Prediction: The Pack tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the fourth best road record (6-2) and posted a 7-1 record at home.  Even if they split on the road (4-4) while maintaining their dominance at home that will give them an 11-5 record at the end of the season, which should be good enough for another division title. The Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are improving, but come December it will be another case of too little too late.

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