Everybody knows that winning the division is job one in the NFL and within the division, no game is a gimme regardless of the opponent. So nobody is going to say that any game against a 2016 rival will be a given, certainly after last season when we lost to each division rival at home. But on the other hand, 2016 is a new season and the Packers look forward to having Jordy Nelson back and a fit Eddie Lacy along with Jared Cook to complement Aaron Rodgers on an offense that came within inches of going to the NFC Championship without Nelson or Randall Cobb, so the team should be a more efficient scoring machine in 2016 if healthy.
The Vikings took the division from the Packers last season (though ESPN apparently didn’t get the memo), a situation that all Packers fans know must be remedied in 2016. To me the Packers had enough to remedy this situation on the roster in 2015, the problem was, they couldn’t get enough of them on the field at the same time. The defense stayed relatively healthy and to me may be more up in the air than the offense this year, because of the loss of BJ Raji and the fact that Clay Matthews is moving back outside which may amount to some growing pains in the middle. But the Packers put together a draft that has the potential to fill the gaps on the defense and perhaps give them a bump in 2016.
The Bears also had good draft and addition of Danny Trevathan could put them in a position to compete for the title. So to me, the Division could be a three-way race and how the Packers, Vikings, and Bears play the Detroit Lions could make a difference. Again, let me be clear here, I am not saying that the Lions can’t win any games, I just don’t expect them to compete for the division this year. In fact, the Lions could be the spoiler for any of the other three teams because they play them twice each. I usually expect a split with each of the division rivals and I think that may be the case again this year so whichever team(s) can take the Lions down twice gain an advantage.
At any rate, with the offseason moves of the Vikings, they have shown that they are not about to relinquish their hold on the North without a fight. The Bears come in with the knowledge that they took down their most hated rival Packers at Lambeau Field with Bart Starr, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers all in the building and expect that with improvements, they will be able to do it again.
But the Packers will play each of these contenders with a chip on their shoulders for the exact reasons mentioned above. I see the Packers offense next year to be perhaps the best we have seen in the McCarthy era. The talent is absolutely off the charts and the decisions at wide receiver will be difficult to say the least. Aaron has got to be optimistic at what he sees for the upcomig year…and at the same time still a bit peeved at what happened in 2015 and all the criticism that came of it.
Time to right the wrongs team. Time to take this three-way battle and win back the North!