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NFL Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: 5 Reasons the Defense Will Be Dramatically Improved

5 Ways Green Bay's Defense Will Be Better In 2014

Green Bay Packers Defense
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers struggled to win games last season because Aaron Rodgers was hurt most of the season and the defense wasn't very good. The team added one key free agent in the offseason, but the main reason they'll be better in 2014, is the improved play of some recent draft picks and a former difference maker in the middle returning to form.

5. The Schedule

Green Bay Packers Defense Tackling
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

5. The Schedule

Green Bay Packers Defense Gang Tackling
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have a favorable schedule when you look at the offenses they will have to face. Outside of four division games against the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, the Packers only have to face three other upper-echelon type offenses. They get Tom Brady and Matt Ryan in Green Bay, but will have to travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees. Outside of these seven games, I don’t expect the team to encounter any elite offenses.

4. Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers Green Bay Packers
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4. Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers have been looking for someone to play opposite Clay Matthews since the LB started dominating as a rookie in 2009. The team hopes to have found this player in free agent acquisition Julius Peppers. With 118.5 career sacks, the Packers are hoping Peppers has some good production left in the tank at age 34. The Peppers signing reminds many Packer fans of when the team signed Reggie White in his early 30’s as a free agent.

3. B.J. Raji

B.J. Raji Green Bay Packers
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3. B.J. Raji

B.J. Raji Green Bay Packers
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After back-to-back mediocre seasons, the Green Bay Packers hope to see B.J. Raji return to the form he exhibited his first few years in the league. The Packers’ reluctance to sign Raji to a long-term deal could provide some motivation and extra incentive for him to play well and possibly earn an extension after this season. Players play their best in contract years and I expect to see Raji’s best this season.

2. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers
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2. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers
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For the Green Bay Packers, their best defense is a good offense and with Aaron Rodgers back healthy that's exactly what they should have. The defense had to play from behind more than usual last season after Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, but with Rodgers back healthy this season the defense should be playing with a lead more often than not.

1. Recent Draft Picks Coming Into Their Own

Datone Jones Green Bay Packers
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1. Recent Draft Picks Coming Into Their Own

Datone Jones Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have spent a number of high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball the last few seasons. This is the year we’ll see a few key guys start to come into their own. I expect Nick Perry and Datone Jones to contribute at a high level this season and I think Casey Hayward will work his way back to the form we saw when he had six interceptions as a rookie in 2012. These three guys need to play well this season.