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Five Questions That Will Define the Green Bay Packers 2013 Season

Five Questions That Will Define the Green Bay Packers 2013 Season

The Green Bay Packers have their sights set on being Super Bowl champions again. They’s have a lot of obstacles on their way with many NFC teams fielding deep rosters.

The Green and Gold have a dynamic quarterback and a deep team that’s gotten deeper thanks to some key acquisitions. Entering next season, the question is: can they all come together?

Here are five burning questions on the Packers’ 2013 season

Questions Expert A Expert B
1. Will the Packers Finally Have a Legitimate Running Game?
Last year, teams more often than not played their safeties deep against the Green Bay Packers because of a lack of respect for their rushing attack.That should change with rookie Eddie Lacy in the backfield.The Packers’ first round pick had a fantastic college stint at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide win their third national title in four years. Lacy is a punishing runner, a solid receiving threat and has held up very well in pass-blocking in blitz-pickup drills. Because of those traits, Lacy will be given plenty of opportunities to excel in the offense this season and in years to come. Lacy could and should be the answer. The former Alabama star is a powerful one-cut, downhill runner who could develop into a chain-mover fairly early in his career. Lacy, however, came in out of shape and must learn to pass protect before McCarthy is more comfortable with him.The Packers have added young depth in the running back position, but with pedestrian options like DuJuan Harris, Alex Green and James Starks as alternatives, Lacy should get every chance to fail.
2. Will the Offensive Tackles of the Packers Play Effectively?
The Packers are glad that their offensive line is getting restored. Don Barclay and Bryan Bulaga are coming back from injuries. David Bakhtiari had a stellar rookie season. And the Packers have added more depth to their offensive line that includes Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and Evan Dietrich-Smith. They must find a way to protect their quarterback after the 51 sacks Aaron Rodgers suffered last season. Now that the offensive line is slowly rebuilding, expect its contributions to boost the Packers’ high-powered offense. The offensive line was bad and it is still in need of some revamping. Although I like the depth of the team, unless they can protect Rodgers, the Packers will have a hard time winning games. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith was a big upgrade over the now-retired Jeff Saturday but that was because Saturday was done as a player. The Packers’ guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, are clearly the strength of the unit.
3. Is the defense going to be better this year?
On defense, the unit is trying to get past its epic season-ending embarrassment, as the San Francisco 49ers rolled up 579 yards — and Colin Kaepernick ran for more yards than any quarterback in a game in NFL history (181) — in a 45–31 NFC Divisional Playoff thrashing. The healing must start in the front seven. Even as good as Clay Matthews is, there are still issues on the line. Defensive end Mike Neal’s emergence was encouraging but he, like big-bodied inside guys Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, is going into the final year of his contract. The addition of first-round pick Datone Jones should help tremendously, adding some much-needed speed. A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, and Robert Francois all re-signed as a restricted free agent to provide Matthews with some help. Their cornerback corps is deep with Travon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House. Clay Matthews is the Packers best defensive player and one of the better pass rushers in all of football. He has finished in the top five in the league in sacks in two of the last three seasons. He is one-dimensional though and looked lost when trying to diagnose Kaepernick and the read-option.The rest of the group after Matthews is far more ho-hum. Inside ‘backers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones don’t stand out and edge player Nick Perry has a long way to go, although he has the natural size and skill to be really solid complement to Matthews. In an effort to make the team, 290-pound Mike Neal has been dual-training on the line and as a rush linebacker. Cornerback Travon Williams, considered in 2010 to be one of the top-five cover men in the league, still isn’t the player he was before suffering nerve damage in his shoulder in 2011. So they will have to get more from Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House, which could prove difficult.
4. Can Aaron Rodgers Continue to Play as Excellent as He Did in 2011 and 2012?
I think he will do well. He was an MVP two seasons ago, and if AP (Adrian Peterson) didn’t go loose on the field, he could have been MVP last year. I don’t see why he can’t do great again this year. Rodgers still has Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Plus, it looks like tight end Jermichael Finley is poised for his best season ever in the NFL. And he has a talented running back in rookie Eddie Lacy. Rodgers has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and has excellent mobility in escaping opposing pass-rushers. Even with that, Rodgers was sacked 51 times last year. Some of those sacks were on Rodgers, as he is constantly looking for the big play, plus he refuses to force balls into tight coverage areas. Bottom line is I see Rodgers having similar success this season, just like he did the past two years. Rodgers is the rare pocket passer who excels when extending plays with his feet and throwing on the run. I suppose if you want to poke any holes in him as a player you might point to his leadership skills. Rodgers is an aloof, cocky guy and Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings have all taken shots at him in the past. As good as he is, he will have a hard time keeping up with the new wave of quarterbacks. Plus, his O-line is not convincing enough to protect him, so he will get sacked a lot. That could prevent him to have a great season. He will have a “good” season, but that’s it.
5. Can the Packers Win the NFC North for the Third Straight Year?
The Packers have won two straight NFC North titles. The NFC North is a very competitive division, which saw both the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears have 10-6 records in 2012, which was a game behind the 11-5 Packers. The Detroit Lions were 4-12 but were in the playoffs just the year before when they had a 10-6 record. The Vikings, Bears and Lions have added talent to their teams this off-season, but the Packers still look to be the class of the division. The main reason? Aaron Rodgers.Rodgers is 6-4 versus the Vikings, 8-2 against the Bears and 8-1 against the Lions (regular season).

Plus, he has also beaten both Chicago and Minnesota once in the postseason.

I see more of the same in 2013.

The Packers will have difficulty defending their NFC North title with the Vikings, Bears and Lions having added talent, and gotten younger in their starting line-up. They’ll have to count on their own guys to either emerge out of nowhere or improve by leaps and bounds and count on their star veterans to keep delivering at the highest level. It’s not the sexiest approach, but the Packers are 53–27 in the regular season since Rodgers took over at quarterback, with a Super Bowl XLV title to show for it. They have a solid chance, but they’ll have a harder time against a more youthful NFC North.

 

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The questions concerning the Packers in the 2013 NFL season will ultimately be answered once the season kicks off. For now, you can take a peek into the team’s future odds of winning the NFC North, the NFC, and the Super Bowl. Also, visit our sportsbook to see the latest odds and lines of Packers games.

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