Debating the Packers as repeat champions

In all the Lions Fever excitement earlier Thursday, I neglected to give ample attention to another, oh, kind-of-important facet of our ESPN.com 2011 season preview.

Jeffri Chadiha and I have the Green Bay Packers repeating as champions in a little game known as the Super Bowl.

Maybe I was trying to avoid making waves within the division, but frankly I'm surprised there weren't more people on the Packers' bandwagon. I wonder if some voters were influenced by the relative difficulty of repeating and failed to accept the youth, balance and momentum of the Packers as currently constituted.

The fact is that three teams have repeated as champions in the so-called salary-cap era that began in 1993, most recently the 2004 and 2005 New England Patriots. It's impossible to predict the ebb and flow of a season, but as I wrote in the preview, the Packers have the ingredients you look for when evaluating a team's championship chances.

Indeed, ESPN's Merril Hoge says in the video that the Packers are "going to have to petition for 14 guys on the field, they have so much talent." That's a good start.

Below are the thoughts of the five panelists who determined the Packers' status as the consensus No. 1 pick in the NFC North.

Kevin Seifert: The Packers have brought back most of the nucleus from the Super Bowl team and have multiple replacements for those who have departed. Led by one of the game's top QBs in Aaron Rodgers, they are poised for an extended period of success.

John Clayton: While it's hard to repeat as Super Bowl winners, the Packers look like champions on paper. The roster is healthier and deeper than the one that beat Pittsburgh last season.

Adam Schefter: If Rodgers stays healthy all season, it's hard to see how the Packers wouldn't be competing for a second straight title.

Jeffri Chadiha: They won a Super Bowl with an assortment of key players on injured reserve. Imagine what they'll do when completely healthy.

Ashley Fox: The Super Bowl champs lost a few players in free agency, but they got healthy in the offseason. Rodgers could be the league's MVP this season.