Coming off a Super Bowl XLV victory, the Packers should be considered the team to beat in the NFL. However, repeating is never easy, and there are always other teams that could rise up and overtake last year's champs. In the Packers' own conference alone, there are many teams that could cause trouble for the Packers' hopes to repeat.
This article looks at the five biggest threats to the Packers' hopes at not only reclaiming that NFC title, but also, a second consecutive Super Bowl title.
Any team that not only hosted the NFC championship game last year, but is also a fierce division rival, is certainly a threat to the Packers. The Bears weren't necessarily a team people expected to do so well in 2010, and there are certainly reasons to doubt them in 2011, but their stifling defense will always keep them in games, sometimes in spite of their struggling offense.
The Bears are in the Packers' division, which already makes them one of the Packers' biggest obstacles to get to the Super Bowl, especially given the fact that they will have to play them twice.
The Packers will face the Saints on Week 1, making the Saints the Packers' first obstacle to return to the Super Bowl. Although the Saints are coming off a disappointing Wild Card loss, they still have many pieces to that explosive offense that won them Super Bowl XLIV, in addition to an opportunistic defense that knows how to cause turnovers.
The Saints will be one of the top-tier NFC teams for years to come, and given the fact that they have one of the most talented offenses in the league, they will regularly challenge the Packers to bring their best game. The Saints and the Packers should be a very interesting matchup for as long as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are at the helm.
Being the No. 1 seeded NFC team in 2010 made the Falcons one of the biggest threats to the Packers last year, and regardless to how easily the Packers handled them in the playoffs, they are still a talented team that could very well be after revenge after the Packers manhandled them in the divisional playoff.
The Falcons have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Matt Ryan, and have built quite a talented offense around him, with a solid running game built around Michael Turner, and two playmaking receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones.
However, last year, the Packers exposed the Falcons for their weakness: defense, as the Packers rolled up 48 points against them, and Aaron Rodgers posted a nearly flawless game. The Falcons may have been No. 1 in the NFC last year in the regular season, but they are going to have to improve in the playoffs, where they have struggled in their last two appearances.
Regardless, the Falcons will be one of the Packers' biggest threats next year, as like the Saints, they have a potent offense that will always challenge the Packers to match their production.
The Philadelphia Eagles are another team that may be out for revenge, as the Packers beat them in both the season opener and the Wild Card playoff game. In addition, the Eagles have added several new weapons to the fold, with Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Ronnie Brown, and former Packer Cullen Jenkins.
Last year, the Eagles already had an explosive offense with Michael Vick at the helm, but with a new-look defense, and more weapons on the offense, the Eagles could be even better this year. Philadelphia appears to be in a "win-now" state of mind, and that hunger for a championship should carry them far.
The Lions are no longer a punchline in the NFC North. They have acquired a franchise quarterback, who, as long as he is healthy, should lead a potent offense to a slew of points, especially considering the promising young receivers and running backs they have acquired in the draft.
But what is even more scary about the Lions is the defensive line, with one of the best defensive tackles in the game in Ndamukong Suh, the veteran presence of Kyle Van Den Bosch, and the newly drafted and very promising Nick Fairley.
Last year, the Lions defensive line gave the Packers a lot of problems, eventually taking Aaron Rodgers out of the game with a concussion. This year, they have added to that defensive line, and, being a division rival of the Pack, will meet the Packers twice.
Being a division rival always makes the Lions a threat, but with the team they are building, they have become downright scary to the Packers' repeat hopes.