Honestly, I don't remember much about last year. It was a fairly forgettable season, not terrible (like 2005) and not good enough to want to reminisce about. The Packers were 8-8 after a 1-4 start and also being 4-8 at the 75% mark. So that means they went 7-4 after the first 5 games and also won their last 4 in a row. Without trying to do a bunch of statistical analysis it looks like they pretty much beat the bad teams and lost to the good teams all year and just happened to play 8 of each. They did beat Chicago in the last game of the year, but I don't remember if the Bears were even trying that game.
Firstly, Favre flung fewer TDs than he has since 1992. But he also had 13 less turnovers than the year before. But he did have his worst completion % of his career. All in all I think he had a decent year. He had his first rushing TD since 2001, so that has to count for something.
On the WR and TE front, Bubba Franks managed to not score a TD all year long. Ugh. Even David Martin managed to score twice. Driver had arguably the best season of his career (comparable to 04), but that's because he was pretty much the only consistent option. Greg Jennings had a hot start but faded a bit after an injury. Ruvell Martin was the only other WR in the team's top 10 in receptions. He was actually starting to look half-way decent (certainly way better than Ferguson) at the end of the year as he stats show with a 7 catch, 118 yard game against Chicago.
The RBs caught quite a few passes as usual. Ahman Green was 2nd on the team and Noah Herron somehow managed to end up 4th. Even with that quantity they only averaged about 7.8 per, had a long of 20 yards, and managed a measly 3 TDs. Certainly not the screen play type production they've had in the past 10 years. Hmm...they actually weren't any better in 2005 in that regard. So that last 10 years before that I mean. In a related note the fan favorite William Henderson played what appears to be his last season for the Packers in 2006. He had 14 career TD receptions. As far as RBs actually running the ball, they had only 8 TDs although Green somehow managed over 1000 yards. He was hurt sometimes and Morency filled in mostly, putting up a decent 4.6 yard per carry avg. My recollection is that the running was very inconsistent and the season total numbers were padded by a few big games.
The offensive line was a bunch of big guys I think, same as always. They had a couple veterans but were very young and inexperienced bunch overall. The team rushing average was a pretty average 3.9, but that was a .5 yard improvement from the year before. They also didn't give up very many sacks. As a group they were far from impressive, and yet pretty solid considering their inexperience.
This may or may not be totally true, but I think the defense was reformatted for about the 4th time in 4 years. This lead to the defense being burned for big plays rather often early in the year on what appeared to be blown coverages and such. They seemed to improve on this throughout the year and were looking like a half decent unit by the end of the year. Personnel wise, they cut another Mike Sherman special in Ahmad Carrol after 4 games, so that right there made it a good year (looks like he played one game for Jax and had no stats). They sacked the QB as twice as often as the GB QB got sacked, compiling 46 in all. AK-74 accounted for 16 of those. Charles Woodson had 8 picks and probably his best season in quite some time. That was the good free agent pickup. Marquand Manuel was basically useless (maybe he wasn't that bad, but I was expecting more). Most importantly, A.J. Hawk was pretty much awesome. The rest of the players were there, not much else to say about them except that Barnett was consistent again but I don't think he'll ever be a star.
Whether anyone in Green Bay wants to admit it or not (and they don't), they've been in rebuilding mode since Sherman was ousted. 2005 was really bad. 2006 was better and a lot of young players played well and showed promise, but they started off slow and were never a playoff threat. It could end up being a very important year in the rebuilding process, but in and of itself it was not too exciting or memorable. That brings us to...
I really haven't read many 2007 predictions, but I think other than the Bears winning the division you can find projected records anywhere from 4-12 to 12-4 for the Packers, Vikings, and Lions. The best part of that uncertainty and potential not-goodness of those teams is that the Packers get to play the Vikings and the Lions 2 times each.
Admittedly, I'm just starting to get into football mode. I don't like to get into football much until the Brewers are out of contention, which they've been trying hard to make happen of late but haven't quite done yet. Anyway, my point is that the following is complete conjecture, based on the 1 hour of preseason football that I've watched, doing a fantasy draft in Madden 08, and various other tidbits I've picked up from the bottom of the Nutcan and ESPN.com/ESPN. Also there's probably some optimistic homerness involved when I state the following:
The Green Bay Packers will win the NFC North in 2007.
They were a mostly young team (besides Favre) last year that went 7-4 in their last 11 and won their last 4 in a row. The only significant loss was Ahman Green, who's on the decline and has had some durability issues the last 2 years. Morency had a better average and either he or Jackson or both should be able to provide at least a decent running game, good enough to open up the play action options. The running game (and pass protection) should be helped by having on offensive line that has now played together for a year. They're still a bit thin at TE, but they really can't get any less production out of that position compared to last year. Driver has the 3rd most yards of any receiver in the last 3 years (Holt and Johnson), Jennings will hopefully have a more consistent year and they have some other young talent at WR. The biggest change though of course is that Ferguson (another Sherman Special) is finally gone.
The defense came on strong last year and there won't be wide-sweeping changes in that system for once. They're a little old at corner and potentially weak (or at least unproven) in the rest of the secondary, but you have to love the linebacking core and the defensive line is solid if not spectacular.
The special teams weren't very special last year (I didn't even mention them before), so the bar is set pretty low there. I'm not too worried about them though.
All in all, I think the defense will carry the team, the offense will better because the running game will be better, and they're going to win some games. I'm thinking about 11-5 and winning the tiebreaker over Chicago.
Grossman will kill them a few times, I'm not sure that Benson can carry the load for a whole season, and the defense has lost some players and will wear down eventually. Plus Favre will have one of his best games ever against them.
You just don't improve that much from 3-13 in one year. Plus there's still the curse of Barry Sanders. And their December schedule is brutal.
Pass defense and pass offense. They have none of either. They did sign Ferguson though (gol).
A GB Packer 2006 review (meh) and 2007 preview (no more Ferguson!)
|Jeremy - 8953 Posts|
Also there's probably some optimistic homerness involved when I state the following
When I saw the Vikings schedule I thought 4-12. With drafting Adrian and opening against the now Vick-less Falcons I don't think 6-10 is out of the question.
|Jeremy edited this 3 times, last at 08/21/2007 11:23:30 pm|
|Jon - 2847 Posts|
"You just don't improve that much from 3-13 in one year."
Except for maybe last year's New Orleans team?
Also the Rams were 4-12 the year before they won the Super Bowl. Admittedly though, not 3-13.
|Jeremy - Broadcast in stunning 1080i|
I suppose the Bears still have to be considered the class of the NFCN, but I won't be shocked if they completely tanked. They lost a few semi-key players.
The Lions have another year with Martz and another WR to throw to. I have a feeling this could be the year their recent streak of "no matter how good we do, and how bad they do, we can't beat the Vikings" ends.
|Jeremy messed with this at 08/22/2007 12:15:19 pm|
|Alex - Who controls the past now controls the future|
Jon Wrote - 08/22/2007 @ 12:35:24 AM
"You just don't improve that much from 3-13 in one year."
Except for maybe last year's New Orleans team?
Ok, how about "You just don't improve that much from 3-13 in one year unless you replace your chronically under-achieving QB with a ProBowl free agent, have your #1 RB be injury free for once, and draft Reggie Bush while also being the official unofficial America's team for the year."
Jeremy Wrote - 08/22/2007 @ 08:51:32 AM
I have a feeling this could be the year their recent streak of "no matter how good we do, and how bad they do, we can't beat the Vikings" ends.
That's all fine and dandy, but they don't play the Vikings 9 times.
|Sarah - 4091 Posts|
|So, do you want to rewrite this article if Driver is down for the count?|
|jthompto - 209 Posts|
My predictions for the NFCN
Green Bay: I think this team is about the same as last year. Favre is another year older and no experienced RB. I say 8-8.
Minnesota: It hurts me to say this but when I look at the schedule I have a hard time finding 6 wins. But with a solid run D and a good 1-2 RB punch. I think they could pull out 7-9. Play the power game and give Jackson the freedom to RUN!
Detroit: I just don't think this team will ever be good. Looks ok on paper, but who is on the O-line? THe defense isn't srong either, gotta go with 4-12 for the Lions.
Chicago: I hate the Bears, but they win by default. Got a little bit tougher schedule than they usally do but could easily go 6-0 vs the division. I say 10-6.
Thats it, I hope Im wrong though.
|PackOne - 1528 Posts|
Sarah Wrote - 08/23/2007 @ 08:15:47 PM
So, do you want to rewrite this article if Driver is down for the count?
I couldn't watch the rest of the game after that. Good thing it's not serious.
I also don't think the offensive line is all that big. In fact, I believe the zone blocking scheme we run, implements a smaller faster lineman. That is why guys like Kevin Barry were no longer needed. A case in point would be Atlanta. With their coaching staff changing hands this year, they abandoned the zone blocking scheme. This season you will notice road grater types in the middle, as opposed to the smaller guys in the past. It is also why someone who didn't read this post will pick up Warrick Dunn way too early on September 4th.
|Jeremy - Cube Phenomenoligist|
Of course, without Vick, Dunn will be shouldering more of the load which may help him (more carries) or hurt him (teams can key in on him) or even out.
All in all, if we knew how stats were going to play out we wouldn't bother with the fantasy season and just declare Matt the winner every year (since he always wins the draft.)
|Jeremy perfected this at 08/28/2007 4:57:30 pm|
|I watch football|
|Sarah - How do you use these things?|
|Packers made their final cuts and we only have 2 quarterbacks. We should've done that for Favre's entire tenure. However, looking at last year when A-Rod actually had to come in, he wasn't able to last a drive without getting hurt. We also cut Rayner to go with the other kicker we were trying out. We'll see how that pans out for us. We also picked up some Giants RB who hasn't played a down of NFL regular season football? Bring on the season I guess.|
|PackOne - Take your shirt off, twist it 'round yo' hand...spin it like a helicopter.|
|If you browse the Giants forums, they loved that guy.|
|Alex - You've got to trust your instinct, and let go of regret|
So midseason update time.
I really thought the running game would be better than it has been. Certainly changing RBs every week probably doesn't help so I think part of it can be blamed on that. However, I still feel that it's been just effective enough to keep the play action passing working. Exactly why that is I'm not too sure. They are 30th in avg yards per attempt, so why not just go nickel all game and play to stop the pass? I don't think anyone has really tried this. Maybe it's because the offensive line, while not doing real great in run blocking, has been pretty good in pass blocking and other teams need to blitz which leaves people open. Green Bay is second is pass attempts per game (38.5) and tied for 9th in sacks allowed (13), which is a pretty good ratio. Random note, New Orleans has 41.9 to 5!
Anywho, the Packers are a couple games ahead of where I had them at this point. I forget exactly what my thoughts were but certainly I had San Diego pegged as a loss and I figured they'd lose to probably 1 out of 3 of the NFC East teams they've played so far. I'll say they go 6-2 for the second half of the year and I still think they'll win the division.
Chicago: Well, I pointed out their faults (not that they were any big secret) and still predicted 11 wins for some reason. I guess my biggest mistake was thinking they'd be 3-1 in division at this point and not 1-3. Looking at the rest of the schedule it looks like they better win their next 3 to have any chance of making the playoffs. I'll give them 3-5 the rest of the way, no playoffs.
Detroit: Their 6-2 looks nice at the moment, but they've only beat one team that currently has a winning record (5-4 Tampa Bay, in Detriot). Even worse, one of their losses was to a team with a losing record (anyone remember that Philly "game")?. I can only give them 3 more wins. They have 4 games against teams currently in the top 6 of the ESPN power rankings, plus 3 road games against other teams. Will 9-7 be enough for the playoffs? I think New Orleans is at least 10-6 (their schedule is easy) and then it's a question of whether New York is for real, since they've mostly beaten up on bad teams. I say the winner of the Detroit-New York game gets in. I reserve the right to wait another week before I make a prediction on that game.
Minnesota: Apparently they just signed Koy Detmer, so I'll give them 4-4 the rest of the way. I think they need to trade Peterson to Dallas though for Herschel Walker. That means no playoffs by the way.
|Alex perfected this 3 times, last at 11/06/2007 7:54:01 pm|
|Alex - Refactor Mercilessly|
So end of regular season update time.
My preason predictions where actually pretty close. Green Bay pulled out 2 more wins then I predicted. Then the other three teams I was almost perfect on, except I thought the Bears would beat Detroit and Minnesota twice each and they lost all 4 of those games.
For the 2nd half update, I picked the right number of wins for all 4 teams combined, getting Green Bay correct, I was short 1 win for Chicago and Minnesota but 2 wins heavy on the pitiful pitiful Lions. And New Orleans didn't make quite the run I was expecting.