The NFL preseason is officially under way, and teams are in the process of trimming rosters and finalizing a starting lineup. All 32 teams have one thing in mind: reaching Super Bowl XLVI.
There is one team, however, that has a unique goal unlike all the others: the Green Bay Packers' goal for the 2011 season is to defend their Super Bowl title.
Here are five hurdles that they will have to clear in order to repeat as NFL Champions.
Last season's Packers were in a dogfight to make the playoffs until Week 17. One reason for this was their inability to win the "easy" games. Losses against Miami and Washington were inexcusable and showed a lack of focus.
Those games need to be won.
The Pack needs to avoid bad losses to ensure that they have a playoff spot and possibly a first-round bye.
Last season, the Packers' running game was abysmal. After RB Ryan Grant went down in Week 1 with a season-ending injury, the running game lost its footing. The Packers were severely one-dimensional last season after that.
However, rookie James Starks stepped up in the postseason to give the team a solid ground attack. Ryan Grant also returns this season healthy and ready to contribute. Green Bay got by without a solid running attack last season, but it would be foolish to assume they can do so again.
Last season the Packers' roster was ravaged by injuries. Over 10 players ended the season on injured reserve. Fortunately, the Packers' front office did well to ensure that the roster had plenty of depth, so the injuries did not sink their ship.
The Packers do not have some of that depth this season. Injuries to the defensive line and linebackers would be serious trouble for the defense. Staying healthy, especially in December and January, is paramount to a Super Bowl repeat.
The Packers have not had an impact kick and punt return man for over a decade. In fact, their return game has been awful for years. The problem needs to be addressed.
GM Ted Thompson spent a second-round draft pick to select Kentucky WR Randall Cobb in the hopes that he can provide a spark on returns. The Packers cannot continue to ignore the disadvantage that they have in this area of the game.
If Cobb can do the job, the Packers chances of success this season go way up.
How will the Packers respond to their success? Will players still have the same passion and determination to win that they had prior to winning the Super Bowl? The Packers must remain humble and hungry in order to win back-to-back titles.
Furthermore, the Pack now have a target on their back. Thirty-one NFL teams who thirst for a Super Bowl have them in the crosshairs. Green Bay needs to rise to the challenge.