The Green Bay Packers will likely start the season Monday night with the youngest roster in pro football for the third straight year. That should come as no surprise with the departure of two aged veterans, Brett Favre and long snapper Rob Davis. Once again, the Packers will go into the NFL season, relying on a lot of young players.
It starts with their quarterback position. Aaron Rodgers will make his first start on Monday night and his backups are a pair of rookies, Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm. It's safe to say that if the Packers would lose Rodgers for any length of time, they'd be in trouble. But just how Rodgers reacts to being the teams new leader will be just as important. He's likely going to make mistakes, and how he responds to them will be important. Teams will try to throw a lot at Rodgers, who appears ready to handle much of that load. But that doesn't mean he won't struggle at times.
Can the Packers run the ball? They did for the last half of last season, then gave Ryan Grant a big contract. The Packers are now hoping Grant won't be a one year wonder. They rewarded him after performing at a high level for a very short period of time. Rodgers will need that running game to help balance the offense and take a little of the pressure off of him. The Packers feel that Brandon Jackson (2nd year out of Nebraska) is also ready to take on some of the running load as well.
On the other side of the ball, can the Packers stop the run. They were banged up on the defensive line in the preseason and had a hard time stopping the run. But Ryan Pickett is back and healthy and he's where it starts. The Packers will be tested to the fullest on Monday night when Adrian Peterson comes to town.
The Packers also need to get healthy and stay that way. They had plenty of good fortune in that department last season. Will fate be on their side for a second straight season.
The Packers will play a first place schedule, which means they'll face the likes of Seattle, Indianapolis, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.
The Packers went 13-3 a year ago, but anyone that follows the NFL knows that 13-3 one year does not guarantee another excellent season a year later. I would suspect the Packers will do well to get 10 wins, perhaps 11 if everything falls their way. 10 wins in the NFC should get them at least a wildcard, but it may take more than that to win the division. It seems like forever since the last time the Packers didn't win the division and the Vikings appear to be the popular pick around the league. I'm afraid I'm going to have to join the group jumping off the band wagon. I'll say Packers 10-6, but finishing behind the Vikings (11-5) in the NFC North.