But that's what some so-called football experts are already predicting for the upcoming 2008 season. Even with free agency in full swing and the NFL draft more than a month away, you can practically count on the Packers winning another NFC North Division title this season, which will put them in the playoffs. How far they go in the playoffs all depends on injuries and how the team is playing at that time. See the 2007 New York Giants for a prime example.
Despite the loss of Favre, the Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is a very capable quarterback who is in position to make it happen for the Packers offense. Rodgers has had three seasons of training in Green Bay's system and still has more than five months to prepare for the regular season. He has quick feet, a strong arm, a very good grip of the offense, and a great attitude. He obviously doesn't have an abundance of game experience, but he will be ready to pick up where Favre left off.
That doesn't mean Rodgers will enjoy the type of season Favre had last year. Possibly, but he likely will have to endure some growing pains that come with being a first-year starter. He'll have to recognize various defensive formations at the line of scrimmage and then decide on how to adjust within seconds. Things like that, which take time. But Rodgers has a surrounding cast of starters and many reserves that will be together for a second straight season. The same goes for defense and specialists.
So to think that the Packers are going to take a drastic nosedive after a 14-4 season is not very realistic. Plus, look at the other teams in the division. Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago do not have quarterbacks that are going to suddenly make them a contender to win the division. It is difficult to imaging Tarvaris Jackson or Brooks Bollinger, or some rookie draft pick, resurrecting the Vikings' offense. Same goes with Rex Grossman in Chicago. It's unbelievable that the Bears are still sticking with Grossman, whom many felt would never play QB again in Chicago after he was benched last season. Detroit? The Lions have been stuck in a quagmire for years at various positions, including quarterback, and Jon Kitna isn't even close to pulling the Lions out of their mess.
The Packers are sitting pretty right now. They can use the NFL draft to find a backup quarterback to groom behind Rodgers, and to bolster depth at other positions. Green Bay is still a young team, but still the team to beat in the NFC North in the post-Favre era. Green Bay has capable veterans at the key skill positions, like wide receiver, running back, cornerback, linebacker and defensive end, and a capable quarterback to lead the way on offense.
Some of these so-called experts need to think twice about condemning the Packers.
Korth's projected order of finish in the NFC North Division in 2008
1. Green Bay (11-5)
2. Minnesota (9-7)
3. Chicago (8-8)
4. Detroit (4-12)
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.