The Green Bay Packers are a team shrouded in mystery heading into the 2023 season. Projecting or predicting what they will do given how many new faces they have at key places is certainly not an easy task.
How will Jordan Love react to replacing Aaron Rodgers as the team’s starting quarterback? Will the talented yet inexperienced group of skill-position players around him be able to hold up? Can the defense live up to expectations given how many first-round picks are present?
Head coach Matt LaFleur will certainly have his work cut out for him working with such an inexperienced group. But, if the preseason is any indication of what is to come, Green Bay could certainly surprise a few people in the coming months.
While the games don’t count for anything, there are still plenty of positives to take away from the games. In fact, the tune in the media is starting to change. Will the Packers be able to challenge for the NFC North title? Here are three reasons that they can take home the division crown in 2023.
3. Potentially Dominant Offensive Line
There has been a lot of focus on the Packers offense given the quarterback change. It is certainly important, as replacing a legend of Rodgers’ caliber is not easy. A lot will fall on the shoulders of Jordan Love, who did look good during the preseason.
But, the key to this unit finding success is the offensive line. If this group can stay healthy, Green Bay’s offense is going to be just fine. Winning in the trenches is key to victory; even the great Patrick Mahomes looked human behind a struggling Kansas City Chiefs offensive line a few years ago.
A deep, talented offensive line is a big advantage for the Packers heading into the season. Left tackle David Bakhtiari is an All-Pro when healthy with Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins next to him. Zach Tom is a rising star whether it be at center or right tackle with Jon Runyan Jr., Josh Myers or Rasheed Walker rounding out the unit.
Should an injury occur, which the team has had to weather plenty of in recent seasons, it shouldn’t be a huge deterrent. They have a strong group of backups that would start on a number of teams in the league.
2. Improved Pass Rush
Last season, the Packers’ production defensively was derailed when emerging star edge rusher Rashan Gary tore his ACL in a Week 9 matchup against the Detroit Lions. He was the engine that made the team go in the front seven and without him, everything fell apart.
Heading into 2023, there were some concerns about whether or not that would occur again as Gary works his way back from injury. Alas, what was once a weakness, has turned into a strength for Green Bay.
This is a deep, talented group of pass rushers that has been put together. At times during the offseason, they dominated. Veterans Preston Smith and Justin Hollins are joined by second-year JJ Enagbare, first-round rookie Lukas Van Ness and UDFA Brenton Cox Jr.
That quintet was excellent the last few weeks. Enagbare is taking that second-year leap. Cox played his way onto the roster, convincing the coaching staff to keep six edge rushers. Their emergence will enable Green Bay to bring Gary along slowly to ensure there are no setbacks.
1. No Pressure On The Team
The most dangerous teams are the ones who are playing loose with nothing to lose. That is certainly one way to categorize the Packers, as no one is giving them much of a chance entering the season.
Many people wrote Green Bay off the second that the Rodgers deal became official. But, with a few tweaks and improvements from an underperforming 2022 roster, 2023 could be a fruitful campaign for the green and gold.
If the Packers lean into their strengths, the offensive line and running game on offense and pass rush on defense, they will win some games. Getting the job done in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, a team also hoping to ascend the standings, would help set the tone for the season ahead.