After missing the playoffs in Aaron Rodgers' first season as the starting quarterback, the Green Bay Packers have made it four straight years. They have won the NFC North each of the past two seasons. Armed with a five-year, $110 million contract extension, there’s no reason to think Rodgers won’t continue to be one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
Tight end Jermichael Finley looks poised for a breakout season. He has been Rodgers’ favorite target this summer. The running game also should be improved thanks to rookie second-round draft pick Eddie Lacy.
However, questions remain about the defense, which allowed 579 yards in the Packers’ blowout loss at San Francisco in last season's NFC divisional playoff game. Unless the defense shows significant improvement, and at this point there is no sure sign of that, then an early exit from the playoffs seems possible. An 11-5 record should be good enough for another division title -- the third in three years. This team has the makings of one that can win a playoff game or two but lacks what it will take to get all the way to Super Bowl XLVIII. A third straight loss in the divisional round would not be surprising.
Predicted finish in NFC North: first