2006 Green Bay Packers Preview
By Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Journal
The Pack could bounce back, but I don't expect big things out of Green Bay in Brett Favre's swan song season. That being said, if he and some of his cohorts could tap into that old-time magic for virgin coach Mike McCarthy, then there is clearly talent available for a surprise season.
Trouble is, I don't see it happening. They're too soft on their offensive and defensive lines to offer a serious threat in the rugged NFC. Favre is still a gambler's wet dream - past his prime, public loves him, tendency to implode, weak supporting cast - so the sharps will look to tear the Pack apart.
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Here's Doc's 2006 Green Bay Packers Preview:
- 2005 Record: 4-12 (3-5 home, 1-7 road)
- 2005 Rankings: 18th offense (7th pass, 30 rush); 7th defense (1st pass, 23rd rush)
- 2005 Against the Spread: 5-9-2 (2-4-2 home, 3-5 road); 6-10 vs. total (3-5 h, 3-5 r)
- 2006 Odds: 89/1 to win SB, 35/1 to win NFC, 8.5/1 to win NFC North, 6.5 wins O/U
- 2006 Strength of Schedule: 31st (.449 opp. win %)
- Key stat: Throw out their 48-3 scalping at the hands of Baltimore and Green Bay's 11 losses came by an average of 6.7 points. They were 2-8 in games decided by seven points or less.
Returning starters: 15 (9 offense, 6 defense)
Key acquisitions: Ryan Pickett, DT (from STL); Charles Woodson, WR (from Oakland); Marquand Manuel, S (from Seattle); A.J. Hawk, LB (draft); Greg Jennings, WR (draft);
Key departures: Na'il Diggs, LB; Tony Fisher, FB; Mike Flanagan, C; Grady Jackson, DT; Javon Walker, WR.
Offense: Can they hold onto the damn ball? The Packers had 45 turnovers last year - by far the most in the NFL. Their -24 turnover differential was the second-worst in the league. Say what you want about Favre "trying to make plays," but they were losing close games so they couldn't have been that bad. The interior line is soft and inexperienced, which is trouble in a division with three other strong defensive lines. Look for Jennings to have a big year. Indications are the kid is a stud.
Defense: That's not a typo; the Packers actually had the seventh best defense in the league last year. How, I have no idea. But I do know that they still can't stop the run so the ceiling on how well they can be this year is still pretty low. Hawk will help. I'm not a big Woodson guy. But he's in a division that lacks No. 1 receivers and big offense, so I could see him having a bounce-back year. But he's not worth what they're paying him. Aaron Kampman is a stud, and having Pickett on the inside can only be a boost.
X-factor: Bob Sanders. Sanders is the defensive coordinator taking over a unit that Jim Bates guided to a jump from 25th overall in 2004 to seventh overall in 2005. The pressure is on the D, especially with Favre putting them in bad spots with turnovers.
Outlook: Green Bay will fight, particularly at home, but this is still a poor team. If Ahman Green, Brett Favre and Charles Woodson can recapture their former glory the Packers may be a fly in the NFC North ointment. The trouble is that scenario is highly unlikely. The public will continue to overvalue the Favre Factor, meaning that the play on the Pack is against them, particularly on the road and in domes (at Detroit, at Minnesota). But that's not rocket science.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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