So what if fourth-round rookie David Bakhtiari and second-year undrafted tackle Don Barclay are bookending the Green Bay Packers‘ starting offensive line. Aaron Rodgers has dealt with arguably worse during his time as starter for the Packers, though that is no high bar to clear at all.
What does lift this offense regardless of the line play — which we don’t know to be terrible, just very much unproven outside top-tier guard Josh Sitton — is that Rodgers’ ability to make quick decisions against the blitz and keep poise under pressure will mitigate line issues to a massive degree.
Whether the run game finally picks up for Green Bay is another story. The Pack’s rookie backs combined for negative-4 yards on 12 carries in Week 3 of the preseason. Eddie Lacy has some nice moves, excellent running savvy and great strength but can only do so much behind a Green Bay line that’s inspired little confidence in its ability to get run push over the years. Fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin has disappointed thus far and DuJuan Harris hit injured reserve this preseason.
Per usual, the pressure’s on Rodgers, who will be without Greg Jennings for the first time in his career. Receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb along with tight end Jermichael Finley are comfortably among the top 10 groups of receiving weapons in my opinion, and they will probably have to shoulder an even bigger load for Green Bay to defend its AFC North crown.
This defense also loses a key veteran with Charles Woodson falling casualty to the cap. This secondary remains strong and deep with the likes of Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. Young players up front must step up like Nick Perry and Datone Jones to help draw attention from Clay Matthews to help the Pack contend with physical offenses from the NFC West this postseason.
Predicted Regular Season Record: 11-5 (1st in NFC North)
Predicted Finish: Loss in NFC conference championship at Seattle Seahawks