American Betting Experts’ newest NFL writer Tressa Furry analyzes the 2020 Green Bay Packers and makes her predictions for how Aaron Rodgers & Co. will perform this season.
The dominating storyline for the Green Bay Packers this offseason is the 1st-round drafting of Utah State QB Jordan Love, and what that means for Aaron Rodgers. Do they not believe in Discount Double Check, hail-mary throwing, and mustache-fiend quarterback anymore?!
The Packers’ loyal fans still do, but for a team that has posted loads of talent in the past decade, only one Super Bowl came out of it in 2010. The last few years had the attitude of urgency for another Super Bowl under Rodgers’ belt. It’s official now: this should be the last chance for the Packers to win the Lombardi Trophy under Rodgers’ name.
Aaron Rodgers has been the face of the Packers since 2008, as he was the backup for the legendary Brett Favre, who himself was a staple of the Packers franchise for 15 years. Rodgers now finds himself eerily close to that situation with Jordan Love — potentially.
It’s unlikely that Love will play this year, as coach Matt LaFleur insists his mechanics are “a lot to clean up right now…he’s a young quarterback that’s learning a new system right now” (NFL.com). While it’s natural for Rodgers’ ego to be bruised over the Packers drafting a quarterback this offseason, he is entering his 16th season, and at age 36, is losing his athleticism a little bit.
He threw for over 4,000 yards and 26 TD’s in 2019, and managed to stay healthy all season. However, he was slow to get out of the pocket a lot of the time, especially towards the end of the season. Defenses easily pressured him, which caused a 32.2% completion rate in pressure situations for him.
During training camp this year, Rodgers credits looking back at film from his 2010 season for improving his accuracy and efficiency during practice. Those are keys to his success in 2020, along with staying healthy. If it came down to Rodgers needing to sit out some snaps, it won’t be Love the Packers turn to, but Tim Boyle, a steadily improving backup QB.
Matt LaFleur swears by the running game with this Packers offense, much in part to RB Aaron Jones’ explosive 2019 season. Jones ran for over 1,000 yards and 16 TD’s, and quickly became Rodgers’ favorite target aside from Davante Adams. Expect Jones to have an even better season as it’s contract time for him in 2020. The Packers shouldn’t lose sight of this guy.
To add more depth to the running game, the Packers drafted Boston College RB AJ Dillon, a dude with massive legs and even more massive potential. Jamaal Williams is another reliable RB that could make an impact. Having Dillon will not only give him time to grow, but will add another weapon for Rodgers on offense.
It’s all a matter of how LaFleur wants to use his running game this season. Since the Packers will transition into a run-heavy scenario, all three of these guys will be necessary to keep the Packers at the top of the NFC North.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
It’s all about Davante Adams, as we’re seeing him in his prime. Entering his 7th season, Adams’ health is of the essence here. He missed four games in 2019 due to a foot injury, and while the Packers went 4-0 without him, his performance in the 2019 playoffs (17 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns) kept them into the NFC Championship game.
It’s obvious that Adams is a top 3 wide receiver in the game, and the Packers’ most dynamic offensive weapons. The problem is that while the run game is strong, the pass game is not. Allen Lazard had a surprising 2019, and is slated as the #2 wide receiver, but everyone else behind them falls short.
The Packers have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL going into 2020. Longtime tackle Bryan Bulaga signed with the LA Chargers this offseason, making him the most notable departure from the Packers. Let’s make some room for David Bakhtiari, shall we?
Bakhtiari is also coming up on a free-agent year, and does this left tackle deserve a pay raise from the Packers. In 2019, he only gave up two sacks all season and kept defenses from getting to Rodgers as best as possible. However, his 11 penalties committed is something Bakhtiari himself said he aims to improve on this season.
The emergence of 2019 rookie Elgton Jenkins at left guard and the consistency of Cory Linsley on the left side and Lane Taylor as right tackle has kept the Packers offense competitive. We should expect the same this season.
For once, the Packers defense wasn’t god awful all season! Just the last part of the season, but that’s improvement!
The defense cleaned up this offseason with the departure of Blake Martinez to the NY Giants, which the Packers upgraded with the signing of Browns LB Christian Kirksey. While Martinez is the NFL leader in tackles per season for the last three years, his lack of athleticism at LB doesn’t help the Packers. Kirksey has shown more promise on that front.
The Smith Bros. (Za’Darius and Preston) , along with their 25.5 sacks combined in 2019, were in the top 10 in the NFL for QB pressure rate for pass rushers, and along with Kenny Clark, combined for 163 QB pressures during the regular season (Next Gen Stats on Twitter). These three are just the surface of an improved defense.
Jaire Alexander and Kevin King became big threats to offenses in 2019 at cornerback. Adrian Amos, coming from Chicago in 2019, and Darnell Savage, another 1st round draft pick in 2019, fixed problems at safety.
If this defense, which stayed relatively the same from last season, can improve on stopping opponents’ run games (especially against division rivals), the Packers will be a force to be reckoned with.
Mason Crosby’s back! He got a late start to training camp this season due to a positive COVID-19 case, but he says his symptoms were mild and he’s feeling stronger than ever. Packers fans take his word for it, because Mason Crosby never lets them down. Going 22/24 on field goals in 2019 at age 34 looks promising for 2020.
Only one Packer, WR Devin Funchess, opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19. He’s the only one of six players on the Packers that chose not to play this season after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The five other players were Crosby, Jace Sternberger, Teryvon Hester, Hunter Bradley, and Greg Roberts.
Bets to Look For
Currently the Packers are at +190 to win the NFC North, behind the Minnesota Vikings at +175. An aging Aaron Rodgers and a tougher schedule in 2020 will be setbacks for repeating at NFC North division champions. It’s not like the NFC North is a weak division.
Key free agent departures, TE Jimmy Graham and WR Geronimo Allison, both went to NFC North teams: Graham to the Bears and Allison to the Lions. There’s a lot of familiarity, particularly with Allison, that these division rivals will have against the Packers in 2020. The Packers will also face tough NFC opponents early on in the season: New Orleans, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and San Francisco. Divisional games and a Week 13 faceoff against Philadelphia means the Packers will have no easy feats.
While FanDuel will have you believing this is not a Super Bowl team by any means, don’t count the Packers out quite yet. Coach LaFleur could take this team to 11-5 if everyone stays healthy. Expect a slow start to the season, with some comeback second-half performances that’ll earn the Packers a 5 or 6 seed in the playoffs and be the surprise of the NFC conference.