Green Bay Packers 2009 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2008 Record 6-10 (8-8 ATS)
Stadium: Lambeau Field
Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (4th Season 28-22)
Current 2009 Super Bowl Odds 20-to-1
Training Camp Site: Don Hutson Center, Green Bay, Wis.
Training Camp Opens: August 2nd
The Green Bay Packers had a rough beginning to the A.B.-era (After
Brett) as they struggled to closeout tight games in the fourth
quarter under new quarterback Aaron Rodgers and in turn slipped to
6-10 and out of the playoffs. If not for the winless Detroit Lions
the Packers would have went from first to worst in the NFC North,
something that never sits very well with the Green-n-Gold faithful.
Now, once again, the Packers are involved in a will-Brett-Favre-play
saga in the media, but this time the focus is not inside their locker
room but in Minnesotas. The questions continue though, and the focus
will be enormous if he does come back and walks out onto Lambeau
Field on November 1st wearing purple.
Whos In/Whos Out
Packers GM Ted Thompson simply does not spend money on the big-name
free agents, you can set your offseason watch to it. And like
clockwork, the Packers did sign center Duke Preston (Buffalo) and
safety Anthony Smith (Pitt), but neither move would be considered a
The Packers did lose valuable depth at defensive line when Colin Cole
signed with Seattle as a free agent this offseason. The Packers will
also be starting a new right tackle for the first time in 10 seasons,
as they did not resign Mark Tauscher following a late-season knee
tear and he remains unsigned and on the mend.
GAMBLE ON NFL GAMES AT REDUCED BETTING ODDS AT BETPHOENIX
2009 Draft Class
Thompson does like to wheel and deal his draft picks though, and he
did some wheeling on draft day to move up and pick USC linebacker
Clay Matthews with the 26th pick at the end of the first round.
Matthews, along with the defensive tackle B. J. Raji (9th pick) were
picked for the specific purpose of helping the Packers immediately as
they convert from a 4-3 scheme to the trendy 3-4 scheme.
The Packers are also hoping 4th-round pick T. J. Lang is capable of
taking over as the new right tackle, but hell have plenty of
internal competition from Allen Barbre.
The rest of the Packers draft class (5th- FB Quinn Johnson, 5th- OT
Jamon Meredith, 6th- DE Jarius Wynn, 6th- CB Brandon Underwood and
7th- LB Brad Jones) will be lucky to make the team as role players.
The Packers ended the 2008 season ranked 5th in scoring (26.2 ppg)
and 8th in the league in yards per game (351.1), but they were forced
to throw it more often than a typical McCarthy offense would like,
which resulted in a lopsided passing (238.3 ypg 8th) versus rushing
(112.8 ypg 17th) numbers.
Running back Ryan Grant ran for more yards last year (1,203), but
only scored four touchdowns and never really got in a groove
following a long contract holdout that went into the start of last
seasons training camp.
Improvement in the Packers running game will depend more on how
quickly the offensive line meshes. Jason Spitz and the free-agent
pickup Preston are expected to challenge the under-sized Scott Wells
at center, while Barbre and Lang battle for the right tackle spot.
But even if the line has trouble the Packers should be able to throw
it, as they boast a strong receiving core of Donald Driver and Greg
Jennings. Jennings, who had nine TDs in a breakout 08 season, signed
a new three-year deal in the offseason making him top dollar. Last
years first-rounder Jordy Nelson had two touchdown catches in a
limited role, but could bust out as the No. 3 receiver on passing downs.
The Packers defense fell completely apart last year (22nd 23.8 ppg)
and eventually their inability to stop the run (131.6 ypg 26th)
cost them dearly. The defense, especially the secondary, wore down
late in the fourth quarter and wound up giving up late game-winning
scores in multiple late-season losses down the stretch.
So the Packers brought in Dom Capers as their new defensive
coordinator and he brought along a new 3-4 scheme. How quickly the
team can adjust to the new system will make or break the season. End
Aaron Kampman, who had 9.5 sacks to lead the Pack last year, will be
one of the biggest question marks coming into the season as he plays
with his hand off the ground for the first time ever in his NFL career.
The linebacking core, the key to any 3-4 scheme, will need middle
linebacker Nick Barnett to get back to form following a ACL-tear last
year. Matthews, A.J. Hawk and second-year man Jeremy Thompson should
be better able to use their speed in the new system as well.
The secondary, despite being ranked 12th in passing yards allowed
(202.8), is much better than ranked. Corners Al Harris and Charles
Woodson will have to adjust to a new scheme that might not be as much
bump-n-run, and Smith joins Pro-Bowler Nick Collins and Atari Bigby
at safety in what should be an improved backfield.
The Packers had major punting problems last season. Scott Frost was
brought in as the replacement for Jon Ryan after the final roster
cuts, but he couldnt keep the job with a shabby 42.1 yard average.
Jeremy Kapinos was brought in for the final few weeks of the season,
but his 34.5 net was worse. Street free-agents Durant Brooks and
Kapinos are on the roster now, but that may change at any point.
Kicker Mason Crosby made 27-of-34 field goal attempts last year and
is a solid, cold-weather performer.
The Packers got some dynamic returns from Will Blackmon last year,
although he does better as a punt returner with an 11.1 yard average
and two touchdowns.
Sept. 13 CHICAGO BEARS
Sept. 20 CINCINNATI BEGALS
Sept. 27 at St. Louis Rams
Oct. 5 at Minnesota Vikings
Oct. 12 Bye
Oct. 18 DETROIT LIONS
Oct. 25 at Cleveland Browns
Nov. 1 MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Nov. 8 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nov. 15 DALLAS COWBOYS
Nov. 22 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Nov. 26 at Detroit Lions
Dec. 7 BALTIMORE RAVENS
Dec. 13 at Chicago Bears
Dec. 20 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec. 27 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Jan. 3 ARIZONA CARDINALS
Betting Odds and Projections
Despite a poor 6-10 record on the field the Packers remained a heavy
public betting option at the Las Vegas and offshore sportsbooks. An
8-8 ATS record though means more people went away from the window
angry. The Packers were strong against the teams in their own NFC
North though, as they went 5-1 ATS versus the Vikings, Bears and Lions.
The Packers also tended to play over with a 9-6-1 over/under record.
Oddsmakers have the Packers currently listed at 20-to-1 odds to win
the 2009 Super Bowl, right in the middle of the pack. Not exactly a
great futures bet as I dont think theyre good enough to win it all.
But the Packers could be a good underdog future to win the NFC North.
The key to the Packers season will come early in December, when they
face Baltimore, Chicago and Pittsburgh three weeks in a row with the
last two on the road. If they can somehow get two of three in that
stretch they could work themselves into playoff contention.