The Packers had a tough season last year, and not all of it was on the field. Whether or not fans and team members will admit it, The Favre saga weighed heavily over them.
However, this would be no excuse for their performance on the field.
The offense played admirably last season even though injuries on defense and the inability to stop the run became to much of a shortfall to overcome.
However, this season the team has a chance to start fresh.
Rodgers proved that the move from Favre was the right one, with Rodgers throwing for over 4,000 yards with 28 TDs to 13 INTs.
The defense is switching to the 3-4 defense under Dom Capers and they got lucky with B.J. Raji at the all-important nose tackle position falling into their laps.
With the return of Ryan Pickett and Justin Harrell, the defense will look much better than it did last season, which could allow the Packers to win close games, like they were unable to do this past season.
Here are my game-by-game predictions for the Packers this season.
Sunday September 13: Chicago Bears. Lambeau Field 8:20 pm NBC
The Bears had more needs in the off-season than quarterback in the off-season, with a troubled offensive line. The Bears helped themselves by signing Orlando Pace and Kevin Shaffer as free agents.
The Packers come into to this game with a new 3-4 defense and B.J. Raji as the centerpiece of that defense. The Packers in the past few years have gotten a slow start to the running game, and with the probable departure of Mark Tauscher, it looks to be the case again this year.
This game will most likely be a low scoring game as the Packers will have problems with their running game, and the Bears will have problems with their offensive line, and both teams will be getting used to new systems.
The Bears' Jay Cutler will be getting used to the Bears playbook, and the Packers will be getting used to the new 3-4 defense.
However, installing the new defense will probably be harder than the Bears solving their offensive problems this early in the season. Rodgers will throw for 240 yards and 1 TD and 1 INT, and Ryan Grant will run for about 80 yards and a touchdown and Brandon Jackson will run for 37 yards but it won't be enough as the Bears will take down the Packers in the first game of the season.
Final Score: Bears 20 Packers 17
Sunday September 20: Cincinnati Bengals Lambeau Field 1:00 pm CBS
The Cincinnati Bengals were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, and it doesn't look like much is going to change this season. The Packers should have a fairly easy day and the running game will have a big day.
Aaron Rodgers should have 2 TDs and 327 yards passing, Ryan Grant will run for 130 yards and 1 TD and Brandon Jackson will run for 54 yards. Also, Rodgers will run for an additional TD.
Final Score: Packers 30 Bengals 14
Sunday September 27: St. Louis Rams Edward Jones Dome 1:00 pm Fox
Before the Packers face the Vikings in the Monday night game in the following week, the Packers face another relatively easy opponent in the St. Louis Rams.
The Packers will come into this game with some much needed experience in the 3-4 defense. Aaron Rodgers will have another stellar game with 334 yards and 3 TDs and Ryan Grant will have 124 yards rushing.
Another TD will come from Brandon Jackson, who will have 78 yards rushing.
Final Score: Packers 33 Rams 10
Monday October 5: Minnesota Vikings Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome 8:30 ESPN
The Vikings at the time this article was written, are deciding whether or not Favre will be playing for them this season. The only thing deciding whether or not he will play is whether his bicep will need major surgery or not.
For this article, I will assume that he will be playing for the Minnesota Vikings this season. If this is the case, this will be the most watched regular season game in history.
Favre will be playing against the team he played for for 16 years, and for the Packers most hated rival. If this game does feature Favre, it will be nearly impossible to get tickets for this game if you do not already have one.
The Packers will be coming into this game with plenty of practice with the 3-4 defense and will be playing with a vengeance against Favre. Whether or not the Packers realize it yet, they will be hating Favre for going against their hated rival and will be playing harder than they would ever have thought possible.
The Vikings are one good quarterback away from being a serious Super Bowl contender, and they believe that Favre is the last piece of the puzzle.
However, even if his arm doesn't need surgery, Farve will still be a 40 year old quarterback. His arm will be tired and he has to learn a new offensive playbook.
The Packers will play an outstanding game and Rodgers will throw for 290 yards with 2 TDs and 1 Int. Grant will run for 80 yards and 1 TD and Brandon Jackson will rund for 55 yards and 1 TD.
Final Score: Packers 34 Vikings 20
Sunday October 18: Detroit Lions Lambeau Field 1:00 pm Fox
The Lions were perhaps the worst team in NFL history last season. However, they did have a fairly good draft in drafting a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford and did draft to help on defense.
However, it will take more than one good offseason to fix the Lions problems on defense. The Packers should have a fairly easy day and should be resting their starters late in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers will pass for 250 yards and 1 TD, Grant will run for 120 yards and 2 TDs, and Brandon Jackson will run for 65 yards and 1 TD.
Final Score: Packers 28 Lions 7
Sunday October 25: Cleveland Browns Cleveland Browns Stadium 1:00 pm Fox
The Cleveland Browns are another team on the Packers schedule that had a bad season last year. They benched starter Derek Anderson and started Brady Quinn, who immediatly became injured.
This season, they have a new coaching staff with Eric Mangini at the helm. The Browns problems won't be fixed in one season and the Packers will look to have a victory at the dog pound. Rodgers will throw for 280 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Grant will run for 112 yards with 1 TD, and Jackson will run for 52 yards, with one of the fullbacks getting an additional TD.
Final Score: Packers 23 Browns 13
Sunday November 1: Minnesota Vikings Lambeau Field 1:00 pm Fox
The Packers face the Vikings for the second time this season. The last game they played was emotional because they faced Brett Favre with their most hated rival. This game will be just as intense as they will be facing Favre and the Vikings at home.
The Vikings will make this game much closer than the last one. Peterson will be running through the Packers defense while Rodgers will be picking apart the secondary. The game will come down to the last few minutes of the first quarter, with the Packers winning late in the fourth quarter with a Mason Crosby field goal.
Rodgers will throw for 243 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs and Ryan Grant will run for 72 yards with 1 TD and Brandon Jackson will run for 83 yards. Brett Favre will throw for 200 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.
Final Score: Packers 27 Vikings 24
Sunday November 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lambeau Field 1:00 Fox
The Packers finish the first half of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. John Gruden is gone and so is his obsession of collecting quarterbacks. The Tampa Bay Bucs had a decent team last year but were unable to make the postseason.
They looked to be improved this season, and will give the Packers a tough time in Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers will throw for 237 yards and 1 Td and 1 INT, Ryan Grant will run for 87 yards and Jackson will run for 42 yards as the Packers fall to the Bucs at home.
Final Score: Buccaneers 24 Packers 13
First half recap
Stats for Quarterback and Top two running backs
Aaron Rodgers: 2,201 Yards Passing 13 TDs 6 INTs
Ryan Grant: 805 Yards Rushing 7 TDs
Brandon Jackson 455 Yards Rushing 3 TDs
The Packers were blessed by an easy schedule for the first half of the season with 6 of their first 8 opponents failing to make the postseason the past year. This is good for the Packers as it gives them the opportunity to get used to the 3-4 defense.
The Packers begin the season with a 6-2 record. The Packers stats are somewhat inflated as they play several teams with very bad defenses.
I also believe Brandon Jackson will have a breakout season. He won't be good enough to start yet, but he will be a great second back to compliment Ryan Grant.
Sunday November 15: Dallas Cowboys Lambeau Field 4:15 pm Fox
The Dallas Cowboys come to Lambeau field once again fielding a very talented team. The Cowboys are without Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens but that is no reason for the Packers to not field them.
They still have a very talented defense and Tony Romo is one of the great young quarterbacks in the league. The Cowboys have been a lot of trouble for the Packers in the past and this year will be no different.
Aaron Rodgers will throw for 260 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT, Ryan Grant will run for 99 yards and 1 TD, and Jackson will run for 72 yards and 1 TD but it won't be enough to get past the Cowboys.
Final Score: Cowboys 38 Packers 31
Sunday November 22: San Francisco 49ers Lambeau Field 1:00 pm Fox
The 49ers come into Lambeau hoping to improve from a 7-9 season. After Mike Nolan was fired and replaced with Mike Singletary as head coach, the 49ers went 5-4 and hope to continue their improvement under him.
This should be a tough game for the Packers but they should win it in the end. Rodgers will throw for 312 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT, Grant will run for 117 yards, and Jackson will run for 43 yards.
Final Score: Packers 27 49ers 21
Thursday November 26: Detroit Lions Ford Field 12:30 pm Fox
The Packers face the Detroit Lions once again on Thanksgiving Day, a day where the Lions are known for playing unusually well.
The Lions will give the Packers a good run but they are still a very bad team and the Packers will begin to pull away in the third quarter. Rodgers will throw for 330 yards with 3 TDs, Grant will run for 147 yards with 1 TD, and Jackson will run for 105 yards with 1 TD.
Final Score: Packers 38 Lions 28
Monday December 7: Baltimore Ravens Lambeau Field 8:30 pm ESPN
The Packers play on Monday Night against a very tough Ravens team with second year quarterback Joe Flacco. Joe Flacco was a rookie quarterback out of Delaware who came out and took the Ravens back to the playoffs, who had had a terrible season the year before.
With their tough defense and their timely offense, the Baltimore Ravens will look to overpower the Packers on Monday Night. Rodgers will throw for 215 yards with 1 INT, Grant will run for 52 yards, and Jackson will run for 83 Yards with 1 TD.
Final Score: Ravens 20 Packers 10
Sunday December 13: Chicago Bears Soldier Field 1:00 pm Fox
The Packers look to go to Soldier Field to avenge their early season loss against the Chicago Bears. The Packers by now will have had plenty of practice in the 3-4 defense and will be better prepared to stop quarterback Jay Cutler.
This should be another defensive game and with the gap being closed defensively, the Packers should be able to gain the edge in this second game. Rodgers will throw for 267 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT, Grant will run for 67 yards and 1 TD, and Jackson will run for 50 yards.
Final Score: Packers 24 Bears 21
Sunday December 20: Pittsburgh Steelers Heinz Field 1:00 pm Fox
The Packers face the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have a shutdown defense and a potent running game on offense. The Steelers will show the Packers in this game why they are the best team in the NFL.
Rodgers will throw for 235 yards with 2 INTs, Grant will run for 40 yards, and Jackson will run for 32 yards.
Final Score: Steelers 24 Packers 9
Sunday December 27: Seattle Seahawks Lambeau Field 1:00 pm Fox
The Packers face the Seattle Seahawks who are looking at a rebuilding season with the retirement of former Packers's Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks went 4-12 last season and don't look to be getting much better this season.
The Packers should have a fairly easy game. Rodgers will throw for 320 yards with 2 TDs, Grant will run for 126 yards with 1 TD, and Jackson will run for 66 yards and 1 TD.
Final Score: Packers 34 Seahawks 17
Sunday January 3: Arizona Cardinals University of Phoenix Stadium 1:00 pm Fox
The Packers will be facing the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals for their final game of the season. The Cardinal had a magical run in the playoffs with 37 year old Kurt Warner, who placed second in the MVP voting.
The Cardinals have disgruntled wide receiver Anquan Boldin looking to be traded. If Boldin is traded, the Cardinals will have a hard time against the Packers.
However, look for the Cardinals to follow up their 2008 season with another playoff berth this season, however, they will not be able to beat Green Bay in the season finale.
Rodgers will throw for 278 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT, Grant will run for 87 yards, and Jackson will run for 71 yards and 2 TDs.
Final Score: Packers 28 Cardinals 24
Second Half Recap
Stats for Quarterback and Top two running backs
Aaron Rodgers: 1,957 Yards Passing 13 TDs 7 INTs
Ryan Grant: 735 Yards Rushing 4 TDs
Brandon Jackson 522 Yards Rushing 6 TDs
The second half of the season is much harder than the first half of the season. However, the experience they get in the first half of the season will be extremely helpful in the second half of the season. The Packers will perform well, going 5-3 in the second half of the season.
Stats for Quarterback and Top two running backs
Aaron Rodgers: 4,164 Yards Passing 26 TDs 13 INTs
Ryan Grant: 1,540 Yards Rushing 11 TDs
Brandon Jackson 977 Yards Rushing 9 TD
Overall, the Packers should go 11-5 on the season, finishing first in the NFC North. Rodgers should do about as well as he did last season and the running game should improve dramatically now that Ryan Grant can use a full offseason to get ready without a holdout like the beginning of last season.
Jackson should have a breakout season and be a great complimentary back to Grant.
However, a few things could happen that could tank the season for the Packers. If Rodger or Raji become hurt for the season, that could become devastating for the offense and defense, respectably.
If the personnel for the Packers are unable to switch to the 3-4 without having problems, that could spell trouble for the Packers as well. Overall, I think the Packers will do fine and won't have to worry about any of that.
For the Packers to succeed these expectations, they will have to learn their new defense quickly. They will also have to excel in the new sytem in order to beat some of the better teams on their schedule.
However, I think that is unlikely as well. The Packers will return to the playoffs this season and it will be an exciting year for them.
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