The Green Bay Packers were awfully disappointing in 2018. They finished the year 6-9-1, good enough for third place in the NFC North. Of course, that also meant they didn’t make the playoffs.
That would be their second straight season without making the playoffs after getting to the postseason in eight straight seasons before that.
2019 is a new season though. The Packers are heading into it with a brand new head coach as well in Matt LaFleur.
With some changes in place – and some old faces as well – Green Bay’s looking to reverse it’s fortunes in 2019. What exactly can they do?
Here are three way-too-early bold predictions for the Green Bay Packers in 2019.
3. Win the NFC North
Not only will the Green Bay Packers find their way back to the playoffs, but they’ll win the NFC North in 2019.
That may seem tough to imagine. The Chicago Bears went 12-4 and you could easily argue they’ll be better in 2019. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings had a disappointing 2018 and still went 8-7-1 (better than the Packers).
However, many believe the Vikings will be great because of Kirk Cousins. The quarterback hasn’t shown he can lead a team to a dominant season though – so they could be counting on something that doesn’t exist.
Then there’s the Bears. Yes, they were great last season and have an elite defense. The offense still holds question marks though. Is Mitchell Trubisky really a stud at quarterback? Can he continue to grow?
The Bears were exposed in the playoffs last season, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles with their backup quarterback (Nick Foles). Maybe 2018 was simply them playing above their level.
No offense to the Detroit Lions, but unless they really shock the NFL, they shouldn’t really be in the conversation.
That leaves the Packers. They have a new coach that could bring in an entirely new culture. Of course, they also have quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It’s tough to count him out at the start of any season. If he’s healthy and given some talent around him, the Packers can easily win 11-plus games.
2. Aaron Rodgers Wins MVP
Speaking of Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback has proven himself to be one of the most gifted at the position in NFL history.
Rodgers already has two MVP trophies on the shelf. Last season, he actually put up incredible numbers, but it was overshadowed by the team’s poor performance.
The quarterback threw for 4,442 yards and 25 touchdowns, compared to just two interceptions. If the Packers won 10-plus games, he would’ve been at least in the conversation for MVP. He more-than-likely wouldn’t have won, but there would’ve been a discussion.
He’ll now be more comfortable with Jimmy Graham and still has the elite Davante Adams running routes. Don’t be surprised if someone like Equanimeous St. Brown or Marquez Valdes-Scantling has a breakout year either.
With the Packers winning more games, Rodgers will be back in the MVP spotlight. He doesn’t turn the ball over, which is definitely an attractive feature for a quarterback and should help him stick out from the competition.
1. 1,000-Yard Rusher
The Green Bay Packers haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2014 (Eddie Lacy). However, Aaron Jones definitely has the potential to bring them back to rushing glory. If he can play 16 games, it seems almost a certainty.
In 12 games in 2017 (his rookie year), Jones racked up 448 yards on 81 carries (5.5 yards per carry). Then in 12 games again in 2018, he piled up 728 yards on 133 carries (5.5 yards per carry again).
If Jones appears in 16 games, he’ll get over 200 carries. So far he’s shown that 200 carries would be more than enough to get him over 1,000 yards.
Jones is incredibly talented, and will also benefit from Rodgers. The quarterback is so dangerous in the passing game that defenses need to key in on him. That will free up more lanes for Jones to run through.
Once Jones starts producing, it will help the play-action pass game. This will only make Rodgers better (helping his MVP case). Rodgers playing even better will help the run game more. It’s a dangerous cycle that ends in Jones giving the Packers their first 1,000-yard rusher in five years.