The Green Bay Packers are one of the hottest teams in the National Football League right now, and have leapt to the head of the Super Bowl outright market.
Things look to be falling nicely into place for Head Coach, Mike McCarthy’s outfit in the NFC North, with the Detroit Lions’ suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 12 to give the ‘Cheeseheads’ a one game lead over their rivals. Green Bay will now be setting their sights on the Arizona Cardinals, who currently hold the number one seeding in the National Football Conference, in the Packers’ quest to gain home-field advantage throughout the play-offs.
The main reason for the success in Green Bay has to lie with quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who is having a fine season – even by his own lofty standards. The player has thrown 30 touchdown passes this season, with just 3 interceptions – which is the lowest of in the league of starting quarterbacks.
Rodgers – in his tenth season at Lambeau Field – has a multitude of offensive weapons to utilise, with wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson as his main targets in the passing game. Cobb has 10 touchdowns on the season so far – which is the best return of his four year career, while Nelson reached over 1,000 yards for the season in their win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Powerful running back Eddie Lacy is one of the more underrated back field men in the NFL, who balances up the Green Bay offense nicely. Lacy is not the quickest runner, but his strong grinding efforts will be even more effective as the weather begins to turn worse.
Green Bay has a serviceable defensive unit to back-up their offensive power. The Packers rank 13th in the league at defending the pass, with ball-hawking cornerbacks Casey Hayward, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams collecting a combined seven interceptions on the season so far. Elite line-backers, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers lead the way with 9.5 sacks combined, which is not over productive, but Green Bay loves to gamble with the blitz schemes and that shares out the sack count across the defensive team.
There is not a side without a weakness in the NFL, and the Packers are no different. Stopping the run has been the Achilles heel of Green Bay this season – who rank as the sixth-worst team in the league – and that must be improved upon with the postseason looming.
The Packers face an acid test in Week 13 as the New England Patriots roll into town – this could be a prelude to the Super Bowl in February. The Pats themselves are on a great run of form with seven consecutive victories in what promises to be a mouth-watering contest. The Packers schedule gets a little easier after Week 13, and will hope to have the NFC North title wrapped up before a home game against the Lions over the Christmas period.
It is far from a foregone conclusion that Green Bay will be the team to win the NFL’s big prize at the end of the season, but on current form, they look to be the strongest candidate from the National Football Conference to reach the big dance for the first time since 2010. It would be churlish however, to write off the current World Champions Seattle Seahawks, who are gaining momentum after a crucial Week 12 win over the Cardinals – one that has thrown the NFC West division wide open.
The key to Green Bay’s season rests with their superstar gun-slinging quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, and if he can maintain his phenomenal season then the most successful franchise in history could be celebrating yet another trophy named after their illustrious former coach.