While it seems like most pundits have the Packers in the hunt for the Super Bowl, if not the outright winners of it, one local writer will have nothing of it. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel predicts the Packers to go 10-6 and be eliminated early from the Super Bowl race. While I think that might be a little low for wins considering the Packers’ schedule, I can see some valid points he makes.
First off Aaron Rodgers has not looked like Aaron Rodgers so far this year. McGinn was the first guy I read though that said he has not looked good in practice either. The Packers need Rodgers to be equal to last year or at least very close if they are to going to make another serious run at a title. The Packers’ defense is not where it should be yet so if Rodgers has an off year the Packers are definitely in trouble. Myself, I think Rodgers will be fine when the real bullets start flying.
McGinn simply isn’t putting much faith in the Packers’ revamped defense, but until we see them play a whole game we won’t really know if the changes the Packers made are going to work. The defense did look good in the last two preseason games, especially against Cincinnati’s first string offense, but that was not enough of a sample to convince McGinn there would be improvement over the long haul.
In an odd comparison McGinn compared the 2012 Packers to the 1998 Packers’ team that was coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. This is nothing like that and maybe McGinn forgot that the Packers would have beaten the 49ers in the playoffs had it not been for a blown call by the officials. I always thought that after all they went through that year that was one of head coach Mike Holmgren’s best teams. It wouldn’t take much for this to be the best team current head coach Mike McCarthy has had.
The Packers will know a whole lot more about themselves Sunday night. A win and we can all relax and get ready for a long ride. A loss starts the red flags flying. Couple that with a loss to the Bears next Thursday and the Packers would be reeling with a road trip to Seattle and the powerful Saints in Lambeau the following weeks. So for that reason I think Sunday’s opener is one of the biggest games for the Packers since they had to win their last two to make the playoffs in 2010.
The 49ers have a great defense so the Packers’ offense won’t likely light it up like they did most of last year, and we may not know anymore about Rodgers, either. What we will know is if the Packers’ defense has improved. I am going to say they have but still Mason Crosby will have to save the day. Packers 24, 49ers 21.