200 Miles From the Citi

August 30, 2010 6:23 AM

Green Bay Packers: 2010 Preview


The Packers seem to have too many flaws for a contending team.

They have a great quarterback.  They have exciting receivers.  But despite good defensive stats (second in the NFL in overall defense, first against the rush, fifth versus the pass) over the course of the 2009 season, they couldn't stop teams from scoring late in the year.

That ultimately led to a 51-45 overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs...and was far from their only problem.

Protecting their talented quarterback has been another problem for the Packers.  They gave up 51 (!) sacks a year ago - way too many for a playoff team.  That's why they chose Iowa's Bryan Bulaga with the 23rd selection in the NFL Draft.  And other than the draftees, there haven't been many additions to the playoff team from a year ago.

It's these flaws combined with a tough schedule in 2010 that could make the Packers a surprising underachiever this season.  Green Bay had better get off to a fast start - if not, it could be a long season.

Let's pick it up in Week 7 - vs. Minnesota, at the Jets, versus Dallas, then after the bye week, at Minnesota, at Atlanta, vs. San Francisco, a break at Detroit, then finishing up at New England, versus the Giants, and versus Chicago.  That is one tough haul.

And it's not like the beginning of the season is a cakewalk.  The Packers open in Philadelphia, then host the Bills, go to Chicago, host Detroit, go to Washington and host Miami.  (See the Bears preview on September 2nd to see why the Bears' schedule, though they're in the same division, is a bit easier than Green Bay's.)

The Packers are a good team.  I think they are good enough to match last season's 11-5 record.  But in part due to their challenging schedule, that won't be good enough to reach the playoffs.  I have them losing a conference tiebreaker to New Orleans for the final wild card spot. 

And with that schedule, and the holes in the lineup that Green Bay has, barely missing out on the post-season seems to me like the best-case scenario.  If one thing goes wrong, this could quickly turn into a worst-case scenario.

2010 Prediction:  11-5, 3rd Place in NFC North (lose conference tiebreaker, no playoffs)

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