The Green Bay Packers are entering the 2016 NFL season looking to make the leap back into the Super Bowl. Last season was a brutal year from an injury standpoint, but they were still able to make it to the NFC Divisional playoffs. They lost in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals, but there is no question that they will be a threat this season.
Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the NFL despite the “down” season that he had. He was still able to compile 3,821 yards, 31 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Those numbers wouldn’t be considered anything but good for many other starting quarterbacks around the league.
There are still a lot of question marks surrounding the Packers that will decide whether they are serious Super Bowl contenders or not. Eddie Lacy has to figure out a way to be a legitimate starting running back again after the weight issues that he went through last season. Green Bay will also have to figure out if their young secondary can continue to play at the high level that they showed last season.
Despite the questions, the Packers are still one of the favorites to win Super Bowl 51 this season if they stay healthy.
All of that being said, what can the Packers and their fan base expect in 2016? It can be difficult to predict teams, but Green Bay shouldn’t come up short of their expectations.
What Should Be Expected from the Green Bay Offense?
Perhaps the most obvious place to start with the Packers is on the offensive side of the football. They have been an offensive powerhouse since back in the Brett Favre days, and that will not change this season.
Having Jordy Nelson back healthy will change everything for the Packers. Last season was tough to watch at times with the Packers’ offensive struggles, but when a team loses one of the top receivers in the NFL, that can happen to anyone. Nelson has been attacking his rehab process and will get back to posting huge numbers this season.
Nelson’s presence is going to open up big play opportunities for everyone else within the offense. Randall Cobb was not cut out for being a No. 1 wide receiver last season, and that showed in a big way. He will be freed up once again to run deep routes and go up against the opposing team’s No. 2 cornerback.
Other wide receivers like Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery, Trevor Davis, and Davante Adams will also be given better opportunities this season.
Jared Cook was the big free agency move that the Packers made this offseason. At six-foot-five and 254 pounds, Cook will be the security blanket that Rodgers and the Packers have needed in the red zone. There are not many defenders in football who will have any chance of shutting down the Rodgers to Cook connection this season.
While weight was a major issue for Lacy last season, he has attacked his offseason workouts and gotten himself back into shape. Mike McCarthy has been confident in his starting running back, and the fans should be as well. Lacy will bounce back with a big 2016 season and will prove he is still capable of being a workhorse in Green Bay.
What Should Be Expected from the Green Bay Defense?
Looking at the Green Bay defense, there is the potential for a major improvement this season. Clay Matthews appears to be headed back to outside linebacker, which will give the Packers a much more lethal pass rush. Julius Peppers and Matthews will wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, which will open up playmaking opportunities for the secondary.
Speaking of the Packers’ secondary, there is a lot of young talent looking to prove themselves. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is one of the top up-and-coming safeties in the league, while Morgan Burnett also took a big step forward last year. Sam Shields will be the top cornerback for the Packers, but young players like Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins will be looking to make a much bigger impact in their second season.
Blake Martinez is expected to have a role in his rookie season, but Sam Barrington could be the biggest X-Factor at the linebacker position. He missed most of last season due to injury, but he is motivated to come back and be one of the answers for the Packers at the inside linebacker position.
There is no question that the Green Bay defensive line will be fine with the talent that they have put together. Kenny Clark was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft and should work his way into a big role this season. Green Bay also has Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, and Datone Jones on the line, who are capable of making plays.
Dom Capers has to feel very good about the defensive unit that he has been given to work with this season.
What Will the 2016 Season Hold for the Green Bay Packers?
It is obvious that Ted Thompson has put together a roster that should compete to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 51. Led by one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, they will always be in the game no matter what the odds are.
McCarthy has a team with a strong bond that has seen the core stay together for quite a few years. Last season was a testament to how deep the Packers are with all of the injury problems that they faced. Green Bay will have to battle with teams like the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks, but they are more than ready for that challenge.
Expect to see the Packers strongly in contention to make Super Bowl 51 this season. Giving a record prediction is always difficult and purely speculation, but we will go with a 12-4 record for the Packers. It should be a special season for Green Bay fans, so buckle up and get ready for the ride.
Do you think the Green Bay Packers are serious Super Bowl contenders heading into the 2016 NFL season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by Chris Keane/AP Images]