The Green Bay Packers can look back and be proud of their successful 2019 campaign. Led by first year head coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers finished with 13 wins and a division title, advancing to the conference championship before losing to the 49ers. Green Bay is now hoping to do even better in 2020, winning yet another division title and potentially advancing to the Super Bowl for just the second time under QB Aaron Rodgers.
According to Vegas odds-makers, Green Bay’s over/under win total is set at 9. We’ll look closely into the moves the team made this offseason, as well as how their schedule in the fall looks, before giving our official pick.
The Packers managed to stay relatively under the radar when it came to free agency additions. They did make a pair of two-year agreements at the beginning of free agency, inking Lions OT Rick Wagner as well as Browns LB Christian Kirksey. They later added Colts WR Devin Funchess to their young receiving core. Dolphins DT Gerald Willis and Raiders DE Treyvon Hester are a couple other signings the Packers made. They did re-sign a couple of their own free agents, however, including K Mason Crosby and TE Marcedes Lewis.
As for subtractions, Green Bay said goodbye to a few notable vets. OT Bryan Bulaga signed with the Chargers after 10 seasons with the team, while LB Blake Martinez departed after four years to sign with the Giants. The Packers also lost WR Geronimo Allison to the Lions, EDGE Kyler Fackrell to the Giants, and LB B.J. Goodson to the Browns, as well as the still-unsigned CB Tramon Williams. Their biggest cut was TE Jimmy Graham, who signed with the division-rival Bears.
There was perhaps no draft more controversial than Green Bay’s, mostly due to their first round selection of Utah State QB Jordan Love. Love will be the primary backup to Rodgers, but is considered to be the quarterback of the future. The team then took two more offensive players in Boston College RB A.J. Dillon and Cincinnati TE Josiah Deguara. The Packers would have six picks on day three of the draft’s highlighted by three offensive linemen including Michigan OG Jon Runyan Jr. plus Minnesota LB Kamal Martin.
The Packers will play each of their division rivals in the NFC North twice, plus go up against the eight teams that make up the NFC South and AFC South. Furthermore, as the first place finishers from last season, they’ll also have showdowns versus the 49ers and Eagles. According to the NFL’s strength of schedule rankings, Green Bay ranks close to the middle with the 15th-most difficult schedule in football, as their opponents combined for a .504 winning percentage in 2019. It is, however, the “easiest” schedule any team in the division will face.
Even though Green Bay has an early Week 5 bye, they will still have some tests early on the schedule. They open up their season in Minnesota against the Vikings, and then two weeks later battle the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday night. Following the bye, three of their next four games come on the road against the Buccaneers, Texans and 49ers, with their lone home game against Minnesota. However, after those first nine weeks, the Packers will see just two more teams who made the playoffs in 2019 in the Eagles and the Titans, both of whom they’ll play at home. Other notable games for Green Bay include a road game versus the Colts and two games against Chicago, the latter of which comes in Week 17 on the road.
Obviously, the Packers had a lot of things break their way in order to win 13 games. But there is still lots of talent all around this roster. Along with the steady presence of the future-Hall of Famer Rodgers, Green Bay has a breakout star on offense with RB Aaron Jones, as well as a perennial Pro Bowler in WR Davante Adams. The defense still features a few very good players in DL Kenny Clark and LBs Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, both of whom were huge additions last year.
But even with all the talent, there is still plenty of evidence that a regression is coming. From a roster perspective, the team was very healthy, and may get a bit unluckier this season. Their notable draft picks will all be backups to start, so Green Bay will be relying a lot on their existing players to step up as well. But the big clues are in their record in one-score games and their record against winning opponents. The Packers went 8-1 last season in one-score games, a mark that is almost sure to regress, while the only wins the Packers had against a winning team last year were two times against the Vikings and against a Chiefs team that didn’t have Patrick Mahomes. Due to a very good chance that regression is coming, I’m picking UNDER 9 wins for the Packers this season.
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