What to expect from the Packers’ 17-game season

Cole Downing, Sports Editor

Cole Downing 

Sports Editor 

Will the Green Bay “paper-tiger”-Packers finally fold themselves into the real-life apex team everyone’s been expecting? This is once again the question at hand considering this year’s NFL off- and pre- seasons are now over, school is already three weeks into the semester, and the autumnal equinox marks the official start of fall in just days.  

So, as Wisconsinites and Packers fans across the country crown themselves with their cheese-heads and climb aboard the hype-train in preparation for opening day of the regular season; let’s break down what exactly the Pack is getting into this year.  

While analysts and fans alike are predicting the Packers to be even better this season than last and have an even better shot at a successful Super Bowl run than last; this has also been the same message that has been pumped out about the team year after year for several years now.  

Admittedly, I too am even leaning towards the idea this will really be the best roster the Packers have had in years. However, I’m also well aware that a big chunk of this year’s team is new or young. They’ll have to grind through 17 regular season games instead of 16 as usual, and that longer grind also includes an impressive cast of opponents for the Pack Attack to face this season too.  

Looking good on paper doesn’t always mean that’ll translate to the real-life play, and nothing can be done to predict random things like injuries and weather. So, let’s look at what it might take for them to emerge victorious from this grueling six-month campaign. 

Nine of the 14 different teams the Packers will be facing made it to last year’s playoffs. Among the nine are three teams from the AFC North division.  

The Pittsburgh Steelers sported an above-average offense and top-five defense all year last year, and most of their personnel remain the same this season. The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens each toted great all-around teams, both primarily dominating through their running attacks, which has been the Packers biggest weakness in recent years.  

Another three of the nine the Packers will have to play are the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Football Team, and Los Angeles Rams. The Rams and Washington each bringing fantastic defenses to deal with just as the Steelers will, and the Seahawks still boast a strong passing attack if nothing else.  

Plus, the final three of these big nine will be none other than the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, and Chicago Bears.  

The Chiefs, of course, have gone to the Super Bowl the past two seasons, winning one and then losing last year to the Tampa Buccaneers. The Saints look different and will not have home field advantage against the Packers to start the regular season due to the damage all of Louisiana unfortunately endured from Hurricane Ida. Yet, they’ll still be a plenty formidable team that the Packers will have to work hard to win against coming out of the gate.  

Finally winning their own division again would be a big help in making a successful Super Bowl run for the Packers, and winning the oldest rivalry in football would be a big help to that. The Bears are arguably the most improved team from last season the Packers will face this year. They’re another team with an elite defense that essentially looks the same, but will now also have a better offense to accompany it this year.  

How should the Green and Gold stack up? Better than last year. Most of the starters will be the same on both offense and defense. Rookie center Josh Myers and veteran inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell will be the only new starting faces, and they should improve their positions.  

However, much has happened behind the first stringers to make this team far more robust. Starting with the wide receiver room; reliable veteran Randall Cobb, top rookie prospect Amari Rodgers, and hugely improved second season Malik Taylor make up the back-ups behind the same starting three as last year. In addition, the running back, corner back, linebacker and offensive line positions are all better units going down the depth chart as well.  

So, the only two concerns really are can the team stay healthy and can first year defensive coach Joe Barry conduct his high potential defense as such?  

Of course, on the horizon is a salary cap nightmare after this season, and the potential end of Aaron Rodgers’ career as a Packer, but these are topics to look at further down the road.