How 2011 Went: Green Bay made Mercury Morris sweat. The Packers defended their Super Bowl with a 15-1 record, outscoring opponents by 13 points per game. They were dead last in total defense and 27th in rushing, doing it all with a passing attack that averaged nearly a yard more per attempt than every other team. Matt Flynn’s one-game, plug-in performance earned him millions. That form did not extend to the playoffs, where Green Bay was manhandled by the New York Giants.
On Offense: It will look similar to last year, though probably not quite as productive. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the league. They have the best wide receiver corps in the league. Pro Bowl center Scott Wells walks off to St. Louis, but he will be replaced by Peyton Manning’s longtime hand warmer Jeff Saturday. The running backs exist but don’t concern yourself too much with them.
On Defense: It was clear where the Packers wanted to improve. They spent their first six draft picks on defensive players, three of the first four on the defensive line. The real answer, though, may be getting improvement from veterans. Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk and big B.J. Raji all declined from their 2010 form (unclear whether discount double check frequency was a contributing factor).
In the secondary, Charles Woodson is getting moved from corner to safety. At 35, he’s still No. 1 overall in our Michigan Man power rankings, but he’s not quite the lockdown guy he was in his pomp. Woodson will now be asked to cover the slot occasionally and focus on being a badass.
Schedule: Tough early schedule with three of the first four against the 49ers, the Bears and the Saints, though all three of those games are at Lambeau. They also have away trips to the Titans (Oct. 14) and the Giants (Nov. 25).
Accuscore: ESPN the Magazine was confused. The Packers are projected to win every game they play, though, given probability, Accuscore predicts Green Bay will go 12-4.
TBL Predictions: Yesterday, we did our 2012 NFL playoff and Super Bowl predictions. Four out of five of us had the Packers winning the NFC. Three out of five had them winning the Super Bowl.
Traditionalists: The Packers rejected Nike overtures to upgrade their fabric and design aesthetics. They will wear the same uniform, with a different manufacturer’s logo.
[Photo via Getty]