It has been widely reported that the Green Bay Packers are one of the favorite NFL teams to win Super Bowl 50, but have the odds makers considered all the facts?  Not a game has been played yet, injuries will occur and a surprise NFL playoff team will possibly emerge.

Yes, the Green Bay Packers offense is a spectacular show to watch, but we also know that special teams has been an Achilles heel in the past and that it is really defense that ultimately wins the game.

Given the success of the Green Bay Packers and general manager Ted Thompson’s philosophy of “draft and develop,” it’s easy to understand why this football team, season after season, is first-rate.

They have players, including 1st and 2nd round draft choices, chomping at the bit, waiting for their chance to get in the game and prove to the coach and general manager that they belong in the National Football League.

No question—The Green Bay Packers’ offense will stack up a ton of points in 2015.  The big question is: “Can the Packers defense keep the other teams from scoring when the Super Bowl is on the line?”

So, before I wager a thousand dollars on my favorite team, let’s wait and see what this season’s Packers “D” can do. There are a few unproven rookies and some past high draft choices that, if they meet or exceed expectations, will favorably increase the odds of this 2015 team’s success.

If, after four years, a player has not improved, Ted Thompson will not hesitate to release him; in this way Thompson stays true to his “draft and develop” philosophy.  Just ask Justin Tyrell Harrell.  He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers (16th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft.  During his brief injury plagued career he played in only 14 games in 4 years and was cut by the team after the 2010 campaign.

Therefore, I believe there are a few Packers veterans who, according to Ted Thompson’s 4 year draft and develop philosophy, don’t have much time to spare in order to prove that they have a future with this team.

Although there are more, here are my top 3 veteran Packers players who must improve significantly in order for the Green Bay Packers to increase their odds of winning Super Bowl 50.  As you can guess, they are all defensive players. So here we go…

Datone Jones needs to rise and shine.  He has recorded only 5 career sacks in 2 seasons.  Last year he had 1.5 sacks. Jones was drafted in the first round out of UCLA by Green Bay in 2013. In my eyes, he needs to significantly increase his production if the Packers want to increase their already great odds of winning SB 50.  More production is expected out of a 1st round pick, but playing “D” End takes a good 3 years to learn.  He will have until 2016 to do so since he is only in year 3.

On the other hand, Nick Perry now begins his 4th year of pro football.  Like Datone, he was a first round draft choice in 2012. He played at USC.  Perry was selected by the Packers to give them another “edge rusher” to compliment Clay Matthews and sack the quarterback.  Perry has only 9 career sacks in 3 seasons. Need I say more?

Finally, BJ Raji has to get it done.  He has not recorded a QB sack since 2011–this, after his finest year in 2010 when he had 6.5 sacks–(the year the Packers won the Super Bowl–are you making the same connection as I am?)

Raji was drafted in the first round (9th overall) by Green Bay in 2009. He was selected ahead of Clay Matthews, who was also drafted in the first round in 2009 with the 26th overall pick. This year, Raji faces stiff competition from fellow teammate Letroy Guion for the right to start.  The bottom line, the 2015 BJ has to play like the 2010 Raji–if the Packers want to increase their odds of winning SB 50 and to returning to glory.

No doubt—it takes a team to win and lose a game; defense, offense and special teams.  Die-hard Packers fans were painfully reminded of that fact last year.

Packer’s veterans will need to do most of the hard work, while the rookies will be expected to help when called upon. We need to count on that good old Wisconsin work ethic–which our veterans certainly have– to be modeled and instilled in the new guys.

So, make no mistake—given the statistics from last year, the onus is not on the Green Bay Packers offense this year, but rather dead center on the “D.”  Just imagine if the players mentioned above significantly increase their production and play.

If that happens, then the Packer’s already excellent odds of defeating any team that stands in their way of a Super Bowl 50 win and a 5th Vince Lombardi Trophy will be boosted favorably.



Todd Stelzel, a loyal Packers fan since 1966, is a contributing writer with You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddStelzel for more Packer news.