But the Packers seem to be revitalized this year after a very busy offseason. At 4-1, the Packers already have two wins in the division, they’ve already embarrassed an NFC contender on the road, and it looks like this team may finally have some team support for future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Lions look much improved, too, but do they have enough to keep their winning streak over Green Bay alive? Let’s take a closer look at the 2019 Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay Packers
6-9-1 record (3rd in NFC North)
14th in points scored, 22nd in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 19th (7th on offense, 29th on defense)
Key free agent additions: EDGE Za’Darius Smith, EDGE Preston Smith, S Adrian Amos, G/T Billy Turner
Key losses: EDGE Clay Matthews, DT Mike Daniels, CB Bashaud Breeland, DT Muhammad Wilkerson, WR Randall Cobb,
2019 NFL draft picks:
Round 1 - LB Rashan Gary
Round 1 - S Darnell Savage
Round 2 - C Elgton Jenkins
Round 3 - TE Jace Sternberger
Round 5 - DE Kingsley Keke
Round 6 - CB Ka’dar Hollman
Round 6 - RB Dexter Williams
Round 7 - LB Ty Summers
It was a bold offseason for the Green Bay Packers, who were obviously in need of some changes as their stranglehold on the NFC North had weakened over the past few years. After finishing with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1991, it was time to move on from head coach Mike McCarthy.
Green Bay took on their offseason in two ways. On offense, they changed mostly the coaching staff. At head coach, they added well-respected and guy-who-once-touched Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur. At offensive coordinator they added former Jaguars OC Nathaniel Hackett.
On defense, they made a huge personnel overhaul for second-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. With a big focus on the edges, the Packers managed to grab two of the biggest pass rushers on the free agency market. Even in the draft, they added two first-round talents to the defensive side of the ball, clearly no longer content with Aaron Rodgers hauling the entire team on his back.
2019 Season (4-1)
- 13th in points scored; 8th in points allowed
- 8th in DVOA (9th on offense, 9th on defense)
So far, the offseason moves the Packers have made look to be right on the money. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have already combined for 10.5 sacks. All of the draft picks spent on Green Bay’s secondary over the past four years appears to finally be paying off, as the Packers are t-fifth in passes defended and t-second in interceptions.
Sure, the argument could be made that they haven’t faced the best offenses thus far, but that argument took a hit after Green Bay held Dallas scoreless through two and a half quarters last week.
As for their offense, it’s still a work in progress. A new focus on the run game has produced inconsistent results. Against the Cowboys and Vikings, Aaron Jones had a combined 223 rushing yards at 5.3 yards per carry. In the other three games combined, Jones had 79 rushing yards at just 2.2 YPC.
The passing game remains fine, simply because of Aaron Rodgers’ presence. He still lacks a good amount of receiving options, but Rodgers has made due, throwing for six touchdowns and just one interception through five games.
Key injuries: S Darnell Savage, WR Davante Adams, RB Jamaal Williams
Davante Adams is the biggest name on the Packers’ current injury list. The Packers’ No. 1 receiver suffered a turf toe injury in Week 4 and did not play last week. It doesn’t appear to be a significant injury, however, and he could potentially play this week.
Meanwhile, standout rookie safety Darnell Savage suffered an ankle injury against the Cowboys, but the injury is not considered major. His status for this week is still unknown.
As for Jamaal Williams, he missed last week with a concussion, and reports are that he still remains in protocol. With Aaron Jones playing as well as he is, Williams isn’t a huge blow to the Packers lineup, but it may mean the Packers will have to rely on Tra Carson as the backup, who has played in just seven career NFL games in four seasons.
Biggest strength: Pass defense
With the addition of the Smiths, the Packers now have a formidable pass rush that seems to now define this division. Preston Smith has one of the best pass rush win rates in the league, while the Packers rank t-ninth in total sacks (15).
Because of all the disruption—and the improvements in the secondary—the Packers are allowing just a 75.9 passer rating and are ranked fifth in pass defense DVOA.
Biggest weakness: Wide receivers
The Packers receiving corps was already bad, but the injury to Davante Adams has left them in the same quandary they were in last year: a receiving group full of young, raw players. Their top three receivers without Adams all have PFF grades below 60. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison and Jake Kumerow aren’t exactly a scary trio, and they have combined for just 30 catches for 360 yards—most of which comes from Valdes-Scantling.
Vegas line for Sunday: Packers by 4