Green Bay Packers 2008 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2007 Record 13-3 (12-3-1 ATS)
NFC North Division Champions
Lost in NFC Championship Game to New York Giants (23-20 in OT)
Stadium: Lambeau Field
Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (3rd Season 22-12)
Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 16-to-1 at Bovada.
Training Camp Site: St. Norberts College, DePere, Wis.
Training Camp Dates: July 27 August 26
KABOOM! What should have been a peaceful and positive off-season for the Green Bay Packers just blew up in their face with the Brett Favre
soap opera. Instead of building off of what was a great 2007 season,
with just about every major piece on both sides of the ball
returning, the Packers now find themselves smack-dab in the middle of
a he-said, he-said battle of words through the national media.
With or without Favre, the Packers will still be considered to be the favorites in the NFC North Division again. Last years team, the
youngest in all of the NFL, came a few plays away from reaching the
Super Bowl, so the level of expectation for the 2008 version are as
high as it gets.
Whos In/Whos Out
Packers GM Ted Thompson continues to rebuild and retool through the draft only, as the Green-n-Gold were once again a non-factor in free
agency this off-season. Their lone move was picking up linebacker
Brandon Chillar from the St. Louis Rams to give Brady Poppinga
competition for the third starting spot.
They lost a little of their defensive line depth when they traded
away Corey Williams to the Browns for a second-round draft pick. They
also let second-string TE Bubba Franks walk to the New York Jets in
Oh yeah, and some guy named Favre may or may not be back with the
team this season.
Otherwise the Packers additions were all draft picks. First-round
pick WR Jordy Nelson (Kansas St.) is likely to be the fourth or fifth
wideout, and second-round pick CB Patrick Lee (Auburn) could be
called upon in nickel and dime situations, but that may be about the
only impact felt by this years draft class. QBs Brian Brohm (2nd-
round from Louisville) and Matt Flynn (7th-round from LSU) will
battle for back-up and third-string duty. Third-round pick TE
Jermichael Finley (Texas) should make the team, and seventh-round
pick WR Brett Swain could see some action as a returner, but thats
about all that is expected from the rookie class.
With the exception of who will be calling the plays in the huddle, fourth-year quarterback Aaron Rodgers or Favre if hes back, the rest
of the Packers offense returns in its entirety. If its Rodgers, and
right now its his job, hell only have to manage the game and take
advantage of the weapons surrounding him that made the Packers the
second-best offense last year in the NFL (370.8 ypg) behind only the
New England Patriots.
Running back Ryan Grant (956 yards, 8 TDs) emerged as the Packers
main ball carrier in the final 10 games of the regular season and is
poised to break out in 2008. Donald Driver (1,048 yds., 2 TD) and
Greg Jennings (920 yds., 12 TD) are a solid one-two combination at
receiver, and tight end Donald Lee (575 yds., 6 TD) is strong at
working the seams in the zones over the middle.
The offense line returns all five starters, anchored by tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher and scrappy center Scott Wells. The two
guard positions have been a revolving door between third-year players
Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Tony Moll and Junius Coston. All four
players have weaknesses, but if two of those guys could make big
strides forward in their consistency, the Packers line should have
plenty of depth and talent to make a long run into the playoffs.
The Packers defense finished in the middle of the pack in the NFL as
far as statistics go last season (313.3 ypg 11th in NFL), but they
seemed to have a knack for keeping teams out of the end zone when
they needed too (just 18.2 ppg allowed 7th).
The defensive line lost some depth with tackle Corey Williams going to the Browns this off-season, but with Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett,
Colin Cole and 2007 first-round pick Justin Harrell all returning the
Packers will be just fine without him. Jolly was arrested in Texas
during July 4th weekend for felony drug possession, but maybe its
the cynic in me that believes his playing status will somehow not
change. But its something to keep an eye on as training camp nears.
The under-rated Cullen Jenkins and Aaron Kampman start at defensive
end on first down, but on passing downs they move Jenkins inside and
bring in Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila to form a solid pass rush on third-and-
The Packers linebackers and defensive backfield are top-notch and the
key to their scheme. Nick Barnett and weak-side backer A.J. Hawk
swarm the ball with top-end speed, strong-safety Atari Bigby delivers
the wood, and corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson play bump-n-run
all game long to make the defense click. Patrick Lee was drafted to
give the Packers more depth at corner/safety.
Punter Jon Ryan was average in 2007 with a 37.6-yard net-average, but
he does a decent job of changing field position with 18 downed inside
the 20-yard line. Hell feel some pressure because the Packers
brought in hometown-homeboy Ken DeBauche (from nearby Bay Port High
School and the Wisconsin Badgers) to provide a challenge, and
DeBauche is strong enough to give him just that a challenge.
Kicker Mason Crosby was solid as a rookie last year with 79.5 percent accuracy (31-of-39) and a long of 53 yards. He was solid as well on
kickoffs with 14 touchbacks.
The return game is once again a matter that will be decided in
training camp. Tramon Williams (22.8 yard average) will have some
competition from rookie Brett Swain. If Will Blackmon could ever just
stay healthy the Packers would love to give him a shot at the job.
Sept. 8 MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Sept. 14 at Detroit Lions
Sept. 21 DALLAS COWBOYS
Sept. 28 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oct. 5 ATLANTA FALCONS
Oct. 12 at Seattle Seahawks
Oct. 19 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Oct. 26 Bye
Nov. 2 at Tennessee Titans
Nov. 9 at Minnesota Vikings
Nov. 16 CHICAGO BEARS
Nov. 24 at New Orleans Saints
Nov. 30 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Dec. 7 HOUSTON TEXANS
Dec. 14 at Jacksonville Jaguars
Dec. 22 at Chicago Bears
Dec. 28 DETROIT LIONS
Betting Odds and Projections
The Packers were the best bet in the NFL in 2007, going 13-4-1 ATS
including the playoffs. The over was equally strong going 14-4 in
07. It is because of these numbers and the publics love of betting
on the Pack that makes their current 2008 Super Bowl Odds at Bet Online listed as 16-to-1.
Even with Rodgers at quarterback the Packers will be expected to
reach the playoffs in 2008. If they have one more go-at-it with Favre
those odds will change. The key stretch for them will be the month of
November, as they play consecutive road games following the bye in
Tennessee and Minnesota, followed by the heated game versus the Bears
at Lambeau, then back on the road at New Orleans. A tough stretch no
doubt and one that will define this teams season before its said