Rodgers Fitness Holds Key For Packers

Rodgers' health is vital for Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers were the victims of bad luck in the 2017 campaign as quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed the majority of the season due to injury.

The Packers were well in contention in the NFC Conference, only to be blighted by their rivals the Minnesota Vikings. Anthony Barr tackled Rodgers to the ground, breaking his collarbone and ruling the 34-year-old out for nine matches.

Brett Hundley struggled in relief of the two-time MVP, although he did have a couple of decent moments. Green Bay’s offense sputtered in the absence of Rodgers, while their defense was unable to pick up the strain, leaving them with a 7-9 record and third place in the NFC North.

The response was to the disappointing term was emphatic. Long-time general manager Ted Thompson was elevated in his role to senior vice President, allowing Brian Gutekunst to take charge of preparing the Packers for the 2018 campaign with head coach Mike McCarthy.

Green Bay’s patience with their defensive staff finally wore out. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was fired along with defensive line coach Mike Trgovac. Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt were let go, leaving a number of holes to be filled.

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine arrived as defensive coordinator, while Joe Philbin made a return to the Packers seven years removed from his previous spell as offensive coordinator. The pressure is on McCarthy after his staff took the brunt of the underwhelming campaign, with the talent of his quarterback alone, the Packers have to be targeting the Super Bowl.

Rodgers' health is vital for Green Bay

Offense

The offense at the start of the 2017 campaign looked electric as Rodgers dissected opposing defenses. He threw 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions before his injury, with the Packers dropping from 4-1 before his ailment to 7-9 without the presence of the 34-year-old. Rodgers has to start taking care of his body as the injury occurred when he was throwing outside of the pocket. It has been an issue in the past, notably in the 2013 season and 2014 when he suffered an injured calf that affected his play in the NFC Championship Game.

Without Rodgers the Packers fell apart as Hundley could not replicate a semblance of decent form. When he steps on the field, only Tom Brady can match his exploits on the field. However, Rodgers’ dual threat makes him almost unstoppable, giving him an edge over almost every team he faces. A healthy Rodgers should see Green Bay return to the playoffs at a minimum.

Rodgers lost one of his most important team-mates in the off-season. Jordy Nelson had been a vital part of his success in Green Bay, including their run to the Super Bowl in 2010. However, Nelson was released and joined the Oakland Raiders. Davante Adams had started to edge out the veteran in key moments early in the 2017 campaign, notably his catch in the club’s win over the Dallas Cowboys. Randall Cobb has to improve his level of play to get back to form in light of Nelson’s departure. Geronimo Allison and Trevor Davis will be vying to fill the role of the third receiver.

The addition of Jimmy Graham provides the Packers with a redzone target, easing the burden on Adams.  Aaron Jones looked explosive before an injury derailed his rookie term. If the running back can take a step forward in his development and become a 1,000-yard rusher, Green Bay could be almost unstoppable.

Defense

The Packers’ defense has been their Achilles’ heel since their last Super Bowl triumph. Capers has paid the price for their failures and has been replaced by Pettine. The new defensive coordinator had success with the New York Jets in their run to the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010. He was aggressive in his approach, using a 3-4 system – the same alignment that the Packers have been using under Capers. The majority of the talent on the defense lays on the defensive line.

Mike Daniels is a fine defensive end, boasting the power and speed to trouble opposing quarterbacks along with being stout against the run. Muhammad Wilkerson was a free-agent signing from the Jets, linking up with his former defensive coordinator. At his best, Wilkerson was a Pro Bowl level talent, capable of notching double-digit sacks. If the Packers see that player in 2018 season, their defense see a marked improvement from the last campaign.

Clay Matthews’ play has declined over the past two seasons, although he has been forced to move around the linebacking corps. At the age of 32 his best days are behind him, although Matthews still has to provide vital leadership to the group. Nick Perry has to take his game to the next level to replace the production lost from the ageing Matthews. There’s not a great deal of options to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The linebacking corps has already been hit by an ACL injury to Jake Ryan, which will force rookie Oren Burks into a leading role in the 2018 campaign.

The Packers opted to use their first two selections in the 2018 Draft on cornerbacks. Jaire Alexander and Joshua Jackson had pedigree in the college game, but will face a baptism of fire in the NFL. Green Bay’s secondary has been exposed in the past, although the club’s hierarchy will be hopeful that their investment in the two players will improve their play in the back end.

Betting Options

The Packers will be looking to reclaim the NFC North crown that was snatched away from them last season by the Vikings. Other than the quarterback position the Packers have an inferior roster to their rivals, but boasting one of the best in the business may give them an edge. Take Green Bay at odds of +170   with TopBet to win the NFC North.

The NFC is an incredibly strong conference, with several teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles aiming to be the representative in the Super Bowl. Back the Packers to beat out their rivals at odds of +800   with BetOnline. If they win that match it’s possible they’ll can claim the ultimate triumph. There are holes on their roster, but with Rodgers they can win the crown at odds of +1400   with TopBet. With the quarterback back in the line-up take the Packers to win over 10 matches at odds of +110   with 888Sport.

Rodgers is arguably the best player in the NFL. He’s the leading contender to win the MVP award for a third time. He will be desperate to bounce back after a lost season. The 34-year-old won the prize in 2014 after an injury-hit 2013 campaign. Back him to do the same once again in 2018 at odds of +600   with BetOnline. Take Rodgers to enjoy a strong campaign, throwing the ball downfield to lead the NFL in passing yards at +800 . Therefore take the over on him to surpass, 4049 passing yards at odds of -130   along with over 33 touchdown passes at -115 .

The Packers will need a breakout campaign from Adams in their receiving corps with Rodgers. He has not broken the 1,000 receiving yard barrier yet in his career, falling three short in 2016. Back him to surpass the mark in 2018 at odds of -115   to record over 1,050 yards with BetOnline, along with nine touchdowns or under at -105 .

Tips Summary

Green Bay Packers To Win NFC North
Odds: +170

Green Bay Packers To Win NFC Championship
Odds: +800

Green Bay Packers To Win Super Bowl
Odds: +1400

Aaron Rodgers To Win MVP
Odds: +600

Aaron Rodgers To Lead NFL Passing Yards
Odds: +800

Aaron Rodgers To Throw Over 4,059 Passing Yards
Odds: -130

Aaron Rodgers To Throw Over 33 Touchdowns
Odds: -115

Davante Adams To Record Over 1,050 Receiving Yards
Odds: -115

Davante Adams To Record Under Nine Touchdowns
Odds: -105