The Green Bay Packers first order of business in 2012 is to win the NFC North division. There is no reason to look beyond that point because that is the initial goal. Once they win enough games to be conquers of the division, they can then look ahead toward their bigger goals. Why will the Packers win the NFC North? I am glad you asked.
Green Bay may not go undefeated and they may be unable to repeat their 15-1 record from last year, but they will certainly win more games than the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings. There is simply too much talent on both sides of the ball as well as within the coaching staff for the Packers to accomplish anything less than a second consecutive division title. Not to mention, general manager Ted Thompson drafted and signed players that will give the team more energy and make the Packers better overall.
“We’re going to be a better team this year,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “We’re going to play better. We’ll be better up front [on defense], I think. Different attitude, I think. We brought in some guys with some nasty to them.”
Nasty is exactly what the defense needed and apparently, they got it. Too many players were afraid to tackle last season and it cost Green Bay dearly against the New York Giants in the divisional playoff round. Now, head coach Mike McCarthy is determined to get back to the fundamentals and will lose no sleep over sitting a player who is unwilling to wrap up. The Packers want players who will remain hungry throughout the season, regardless if the team is winning or not.
“I think there was a little bit of some too-comfortable mentality,” Rodgers said. ”One of the things that winning does is it masks some of the issues you might have. When you have a real successful season, the little things get swept under the rug and the big things become little things. It’s hard to knock a team on energy and enthusiasm and effort when you’re still going out and winning. But it can catch up to you at some point, and it did with us.”
The majority of the team already knows what it feels like to be called champions and there is no doubt they want to taste the champagne once again. There is no reason to believe the offense will lose a step this season, as they look to be even better with a healthy running game. The defense got a solid makeover with additional men around the defensive front that should put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If the young defensive backs can step up then Green Bay should be better overall on defense.
The Packers have a difficult road in front of them and it will take every member of the team to accomplish their ultimate objective. The good news is the spotlight will not be on them as much this season as it was last year (even though they will be playing in five prime time match-ups), which means they can once again become the hunter instead of the hunted.
The Lions are expected to be better as they continue their progression to become an elite team in the NFC. Meanwhile, if the Bears stay healthy they should also be contending for the division but I still believe there are too many “if” factors with them. The Vikings are still in rebuild mode and I do not believe they will win more than four games this year. Green Bay may not win the division by five games like they did last season, but there are too many core players mixed with young talent for any other team to top them.