As we inch closer to training camp the Green Bay Packers are becoming one of the most talked about teams in the NFL. You can’t tune into any sports channel that is talking NFL without one of the commentators bringing up the Packers as a tough team to beat this year. Expectations will be super high when camp opens and I for one am going to really enjoy hearing the hype escalate further as training camp and preseason progress. Opening day in Philly is going to be huge.
The Packers have one of the best teams in the NFL because of the work of general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy. Thompson has put together one the most talented teams in the league and first-time head coach McCarthy has proven to be the right man for the right job. McCarthy has the respect of his players and a proven offensive system that has seen him turn around Brett Favre’s career and then develop Aaron Rodgers into arguable the best quarterback in the NFL without a ring. Kind of like the best player never to win a major.
This just might be Rodgers year. Since the debacle in Tampa Bay last year Rodgers has become the true leader of this team with a lot of help from cornerback Charles Woodson. Much like the old Reggie White-Brett Favre days the Packers have leaders on both sides of the ball. Woodson recently called Rodgers the best QB in the NFL. The way Rodgers came back from a poor start in Arizona last January was epic. If not for a soft pass defense in that game the Packers might have been playing in the Super Bowl. Believe you me the Packers will not be that soft this year against the pass. One thing about McCarthy, with the exception of special teams, when he says he’s going to fix something, he fixes it.
The Packers have enough talent and enough competition at every position that they should be even better than 11-5 this year. It will probably take 13-3 to win the NFC North, which I think will be the best division in football in 2010. The Packers are the up-and-comers with the youth and desire to win it all. The Vikings with or without Favre can be penciled in for 10 or more wins. The Bears are my sleeper team in the division and they scare the living daylights out of me. I’ve always been a fan of Mike Martz and the Packers struggled stopping John Kitna and Detroit when Martz coached there. If the Bears’ defense rebounds with Brian Urlacher back and Jay Cutler buys into Martz’ offense, the Bears are going to be a beast.
I hate to admit it but I love the Lions’ head coach Jim Schwartz. He has a plan much like McCarthy did when he came to Green Bay and Schwartz will stick to it even if it takes a few years. The Lions have greatly improved their talent level since he became coach and the Vikings might have given the Lions the greatest gift of all when they traded with them in the draft allowing Detroit to draft Javid Best. Only the Vikings could be that stupid. I don’t see the Packers losing to the Lions this year, but that 19-game home winning streak over the Lions might not go much past 20.
Two weeks from Friday we get underway. I’ll be at the Packers’ shareholders meeting the day before. The Packers’ financial statement usually comes out that day but tomorrow the Packers will deliver the news ahead of time and it figures to be bad. The Packers might need a Super Bowl run to keep the franchise alive and kicking. I think it is coming. The Saints won’t repeat, the Vikings never win anything, no team in the NFC West is any good anymore, which leaves only the Dallas Cowboys standing in the Packers way. Seems like old times.