Since 1992, the Green Bay Packers have basically known two quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, a pair of no-brainer Hall of Famers with 7 MVP awards between them.
But those days are over after Rodgers was traded to the Jets following an 18-year career with the Packers. However, is it not possible for the Packers to strike gold again?
The Wisconsin team would not be the first one in NFL history to pull off a successful quarterback lineage with 3 players. The 49ers once followed Joe Montana and Steve Young with Jeff Garcia, who made a few Pro Bowls in playoff seasons for the team.
At this point, Garcia would be a fantastic outcome for Jordan Love, the team’s 2020 1st-round pick. Love has quickly experienced hate as he already has media members claiming he cannot play football before even taking the field for a preseason game to kick off his era in Green Bay.
But after a challenging 8-9 season, Matt LaFleur is back with a lot of young skill players to grow together against what is a favorable schedule. Many of the top online sportsbooks have the Packers at over/under 7.5 wins.
Your best NFL bet here largely depends on how much you trust Love as the Packers enter into the era of the unknown at quarterback.
You may have heard the Packers have a new starting quarterback, but young, inexperienced skill players look to be the theme of this season for Green Bay. Matt LaFleur has his work cut out for him, but he also hopes to get back some of his best veterans.
Will Young Offense Thrive or Die with Jordan Love?
Jordan Love has yet to turn 25 years old, but he is still older than the players projected to be his top 3 wide receivers and top 2 tight ends this season. You can call this Green Bay season experimental, because the Packers are going with a youth movement at the skill positions the league rarely sees.
We know the Packers like their home-grown talent, but this may be taking things to extremes. Love will start the season with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, two talented wideouts who needed to stay healthy more often in 2022. Watson has superstar potential, but he will have to show his explosive month of touchdowns can carry over to a full season.
The slot receiver could also be young in 3rd-round rookie Jayden Reed. Rodgers took Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb with him to the Jets, so there are openings for these young players to step up.
The Packers also saw veteran tight ends Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis go to the Bears. They are getting much younger and faster at the position after drafting Luke Musgrave in the 2nd round and Tucker Kraft in the 3rd round. Musgrave figures to have a solid shot of being a leading receiver on the team.
Green Bay will have more experience along the offensive line, but the running backs are surprisingly some of the most veteran players on the team. The duo is one of the better ones out there with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. They may be asked to carry a bigger load than usual this season.
We still have so much to learn about Love, who has only made a single start in the NFL, a rough 13-7 loss in Kansas City in 2021 where he did not play well against an elite team. But Love joins Rodgers as the only 2 quarterbacks drafted in the 1st round since 1998 to not throw at least 100 passes in their first 3 seasons.
It worked out for Green Bay before, but Rodgers is a tough act to follow even if the 2022 season was arguably his worst.
The Veterans Coming Back
The Packers are one of those teams who can stand to improve most from getting key players back healthy rather than adding anyone entirely new to the team. We already know about the injuries that threw off the progression for Watson and Doubs at receiver last year, but there are some other returning players at key positions to note.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari has had a rough go of things in the last few years. He was injured for the 2020 playoffs, missing that crucial NFC Championship Game loss to Tampa Bay. He missed all of the 2021 season save for 27 snaps in Week 18. He played in 11 games last year, including the season finale, but he was in and out of the lineup all year long.
Back From Injury
Bakhtiari has not played more than 12 games in a season since 2019, but if the Packers can get a full, healthy year out of him in 2023, then they have one of the best tackles in the league at their disposal.
The other veteran to be excited about is edge rusher Rashan Gary, the team’s 1st-round pick in 2019. He had 9.5 sacks in 2021 and may have exceeded that to lead the team in 2022 had he not been injured and missed the last 8 games.
Gary, Preston Smith, and Kenny Clark can lead the pass rush while the Packers work 1st-round rookie Lukas Van Ness into the pass-rush rotation.
2023 Schedule Analysis
The schedule is an excellent equalizer for the NFC North teams this year. It is possible the Packers only play a single team all year that wins more than 10 games, and that would presumably be Kansas City in Week 13. The Packers are not scheduled to play the Eagles, 49ers, or Cowboys – the top 3 contenders in the NFC.
Maybe the days of penciling in a Chicago sweep are over, but the Packers are unlikely to get swept again by Detroit as well. You can probably count on at least a 3-3 split in the division games with both Detroit matchups coming on short weeks in Thursday games.
Can you find another handful of wins for the Packers to get over 7.5 wins? They will face the Falcons (Week 2), Saints (Week 3), Raiders (Week 5), Broncos (Week 7), Rams (Week 9), Steelers (Week 10), Giants (Week 14), Buccaneers (Week 15), and Panthers (Week 16) as some notable, winnable games outside the division. The games against Tampa Bay and Carolina are significant as the weather should favor the Packers.
Again, only the Kansas City game feels like one where Green Bay can be a significant underdog barring an abysmal season by Love and the young receivers.
But this is trusting LaFleur as a coach who has won over 70% of his games. This is believing Love can be better than an average rookie as a 1st-year starter with years in the league. This is liking the schedule enough to think the Packers can repeat an 8-9 record, if not better, for your NFL ATS bets. We’ll take the over.
NFL Pick: 2023 Green Bay Packers Over 7.5 Wins (-125) at BetRivers
2022 Recap: Aaron’s Swansong
The Packers had to know 2022 was going to be a challenging season after trading No. 1 receiver Davante Adams, one of the best in the game, to the Raiders. It is hard to replace a veteran that good with a committee of unproven receivers, but that was basically what the Packers tried to pull off with their 39-year-old quarterback returning for one more shot at a Super Bowl.
It looked a little rough, but the Packers were 3-1 after getting by Tom Brady’s Buccaneers and Bill Belichick’s Patriots in back-to-back weeks. But there were two elements to Green Bay’s season that ultimately doomed them to missing the playoffs for only the 3rd time in a full season played by Rodgers.
The First Sign
The first sign of trouble was the 27-22 loss in London to the Giants. Rodgers broke his thumb in that game, and you could immediately see a decline in play. The Packers would have lost 8 games in a row had it not been for one last Rodgers-led comeback against the Cowboys in an overtime win at home.
But at 4-8, the Packers were at arguably their lowest point of the Rodgers era. Rodgers even left the 40-33 loss against the Eagles that dropped the team to 4-8. Jordan Love replaced him and threw a touchdown to rookie receiver Chrisitan Watson, who really came along with 8 touchdowns in a 4-game span.
Some thought the Packers should shut Rodgers down and go with Love for the rest of the year to see what they had in him. But Rodgers returned for the Chicago game against one of his favorite opponents, and the Packers completed yet another sweep of the Bears.
It was really the defense and running game that came along during a 4-game winning streak to get back to 8-8. The Packers had 12 takeaways on defense during that run, matching their output in the other 13 games combined.
Those Damn Lions
Everything was set up well for the Packers to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. They just had to beat Detroit at home in the final game of the 2022 regular season. But the Lions showed up ready to knock Green Bay out, and the final pass of Rodgers’ career in Green Bay was an interception in a 20-16 loss.
Rodgers threw as many picks against Detroit in 2022 (4) as he had in the previous 11 seasons combined. The Lions swept Green Bay for just the 3rd time in the Favre and Rodgers eras. Green Bay’s 8-9 finish left them out of the playoffs, and out of a Hall of Fame quarterback after trading Rodgers to the Jets.