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Packers will struggle

Packers will struggle

Packers will struggle

Early last season, no one would’ve thought the Packers would be contenders in the NFC North, let alone the NFC as a whole. They were young, unproven and in need of a leader. Who better than Brett Favre to do the job. They started out 6-1, winning 5 of those games by 7 points or less and one in overtime. Before you knew it, all of these young guys built up some confidence and started to believe in themselves. In the end, the Packers were 13-3, tied for the best record in the NFC.

However, things may change dramatically this year. In 2007 the Packers were being led by a future hall-of-famer at QB, they had a very easy schedule and they were very fortunate on the injury front (they didn’t suffer any injuries to key players). This year, there is NO Brett Favre, the schedule is very difficult, and a young, unproven Aaron Rodgers to lead them should set them back in 2008.

Twelve of the Packers sixteen opponents last year finished the season .500 or worse. This year is a whole different story. The Packers play nine of their sixteen against teams that were .500 or better; Including six of those against playoff teams. The NFC North is also very hard to project this year, Chicago Bears were Super Bowl runners-up before being ravaged by injuries a year ago and the Minnesota Vikings are a good quarterback away from being a serious contender in the NFC.

Without Favre, don’t expect the Packers to reach last season’s offensive numbers; The Packers finished 4th in points, 2nd in total yards, and 2nd in passing yards and scored over 30 points eight times. This year, Aaron Rodgers is the leader of the Pack. He has never started a game before, this being his fourth season. He is unproven and has been prone to injuries in the little time that he has seen the field. If he goes down, it’s most likely rookie Brian Brohm that will be thrown into the fire.

Running back Ryan Grant was a pleasant surprise for the Packers in the second half of the season, rushing for 956 yards and 8 touchdowns in the final 10 games for the Packers. The Packers will be looking to Ryan Grant to take some of the pressure off of Rodgers, but don’t expect Grant, who was on the practice squad in the beginning of last season, to handle all of the pressure about to be put on him.

Defensively, the Packers were a solid group last season finishing 7th in points allowed and 11th in yards allowed. Nevertheless, they didn’t do much this off-season to better themselves. Their only departure was starting defensive tackle Corey Williams. They also got lucky last year with no big injuries to their linebackers or in their secondary. They have solid starters, but there is very little depth to speak of outside of them. And cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson aren’t getting any younger.

Look for the brutal start to schedule (five of the first seven games against teams .500 or better a year ago) and unproven leaders at key positions to bring the Green Bay Packers down a few notches in 2008. We’ll call for under 8 wins.

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