Early Odds on Packers 2014 Super Bowl Appearance Shows Confidence Despite Holes
The dust hasn't even settled from Super Bowl XLVII (that's 47 for those not rocking the Roman numerals), but we've already got some odds on who will be in next year's game.
If you bristle at the ranking (and some might), just consider Super Bowl Champion Baltimore is at 14 to 1.
Anyway, what does this mean, aside from being further proof that there is, indeed, no offseason?
Looking at the 10 to 1, it highlights what I think most fans and media know.
This is a strong team, with some significant holes.
Not a ton of them, mind you—just enough to make you wonder.
Certainly the offensive line and lack of a reliable running back are likely concerns. Now, I happen to be in the camp that DuJuan Harris can be a real factor next year but it's not like we have a huge sample size yet.
A bigger concern for Vegas (and others) is likely the defense. Yes, it took huge strides forward this year and I am here to tell you Casey Hayward is the Truth at corner.
Tramon Williams had another up-and-down year, though Clay Matthews was once again most of the pass rush and the middle of the defense is a sieve when it comes to stopping the run.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense cover a lot of ills, but as we saw several times in the regular season and in the playoffs, the defensive collapse can sometimes be impossible to overcome.
Yet this is a team that, on the whole, is better than 90 percent of the NFL on most Sundays.
Even losing Greg Jennings (as we expect), this is an incredibly potent offense. If Jordy Nelson stays healthy, you have a murderous trio of receivers with him, Randall Cobb and James Jones. One hopes Jermichael Finley can recapture his former production, but even at just a fraction of his past statistics, he is very dangerous as well.
While the run game isn't all that exciting, Harris, along with Alex Green and perhaps a healthy James Starks or Cedric Benson returning, could be very productive.
The offensive line, for all its issues, held together when it counted. One hopes for an improvement in reducing sacks, but some of that is on Rodgers as well.
As I pointed out on defense, the secondary is improving with the addition of Hayward, as well as Jerron McMillian and an emerging M.D. Jennings. There is still some fuel in the tank for Charles Woodson, and Morgan Burnett continues to play well.
I still believe Nick Perry can become very productive, though I worry about how Jerel Worthy will come back from his knee surgery. But B.J. Raji and A.J. Hawk both did well this season and Desmond Bishop will be back and healthy.
The pieces on both sides of the ball are here. I may not love Dom Capers (if he returns) but he has the parts to put together a very good defense.
Green Bay has its work cut out for it, no doubt. But as Bell's odds show (and you can take them for whatever they are worth this early on), it's a team whose fans should be confident that, once again, it will be in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.
And that's a bet I'd take.
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