A Look Forward to the Rest of the Season

Packers Cornerback Quinten Rollins

With Week 5 in the books, we’re already about 1/3 of the way through the NFL season.  Before the season began, I made several predictions about the Green Bay Packers and their 2015 season here.  While the majority of the season remains, we’ve seen enough to get a pretty good idea of the composition of the Packers this year, and thus we may revisit those early predictions and see if they seem to still hold.

Record:

I originally highlighted 6 games on the schedule that I thought posed a significant challenge for the Packers, predicting that the Packers would win half of them and then probably lose one away game that would be relatively unexpected, leaving them with a 12-4 record.  Those 6 games were Seattle, @Denver, @Carolina, @Minnesota, @Detroit, and Dallas.

The Packers handled Seattle (sans Kam Chancellor) fairly easily at home.  I still think that @Denver and @Carolina will pose a significant challenge, but I would not expect the Packers to do anything worse than split those two.  The remaining games on the list look much more winnable than they did before the year started.  Minnesota has not shown itself to be the up-and-coming team of 2015 (at least not yet), and Detroit is 0-5.  Dallas should be back to full strength with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant having returned from injuries by the time that the Cowboys roll into Lambeau in Week 14, but exactly how good they’ll be and what they’ll be playing for remains to be seen.  Meanwhile, the Packers will be traveling to Arizona to face a very good Cardinals team in Week 16.

I still expect the Packers to lose an unexpected one on the road.  When you look at the schedule, @Oakland looks like it could be that type of game.  All-in-all, however, this is a very good Packers team, probably even better than was expected after the loss of Jordy Nelson.  While the offense has been sputtering lately, it’s only a matter of time until it gets back into sync.  With the added resiliency of a defense that is dominating, it’s hard to see the Packers losing even 4 games.  My head says that 13-3 is more likely.  My gut says 14 -2.

There is not one game on the schedule that I would expect the Packers to lose if even just relatively healthy.  As mentioned above, going to Denver may be the hardest matchup, and their defense is not to be overlooked, but Manning is showing signs of aging.  The Packers appear to be the most well-rounded and talented team in the NFL, with only, perhaps, the New England Patriots at the same level.

Post-Season: Right now, it certainly seems like Super Bowl L (or are we calling it 50 now?) will be a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI, pitting the Packers against the Patriots.  And, just like last year’s duel between the Packers and Patriots, it should be a fantastic game.  Also like last year, I’m calling the Packers to win by less than a TD and return the Lombardi Trophy to Titletown.

Other Predictions:

I also made 6 other predictions, each of which I’ll look at briefly below.

1. Davante Adams posts 1,000+ receiving yards and 10 TDs.  

Adams has spent most of the year thus far injured.  This will make reaching this goal much more difficult, but his return should certainly bolster the offense.  No matter what numbers he finishes with, Adams will be a major part of the offense as the year progresses.

2. James Jones exceeds expectations

I originally guessed that Jones would finish with 700+ yards and 7 or 8 TDs.  Right now, he’s on pace for over 1200 yards and 16 TDs.  Enough said.

3. One of the rookie cornerbacks wins the starting job outside

Both Rollins and Randall have seen significant playing time early on, and both appear to be quickly developing into real talents.  Hayward has still found his way onto the field more often, but each cornerback has been utilized according to their strengths, with only Sam Shields an unquestioned, every down player among the cornerbacks.

4. Jayrone Elliott starts to see significant playing time

Elliott has already seen a major rise in playing time, and that is likely to only increase over the next game or two with Nick Perry’s absence.  Elliott has excelled when he’s been on the field, already accumulating 12 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception.  As his nickname “Shakespeare” suggests, all Jay Elliott does is make plays.

5. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will make the Pro-Bowl in 2015

Clinton-Dix hasn’t quite punched his ticket to the Pro-Bowl yet, but he’s been very good thus far, notching 35 tackles and an interception.  He’ll have to elevate his play as the year progresses, but he’s perhaps the most instinctual young safety in the league.

6. The Packers move to replace Tim Mathsay during the middle of the season.

Mathsay hasn’t been great, but the completely botched punts that we saw in the preseason have been thankfully rare in the regular season.  The Packers absolutely need to bring in some real talent to push Mathsay for the job next offseason, but Mathsay getting yanked mid-season now seems pretty unlikely.

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Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.

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2 thoughts on “A Look Forward to the Rest of the Season

  1. Denver is the biggest challenge on the road. Although with the Packers defense playing a weak Denver o-line, which has virtually no running game (to date) and Peyton having problems getting the ball out accurately, (who would have thought that?) this might be a game that comes down to Rodgers scrambling ability versus the Denver D which leads the NFL in sacks just ahead of Green Bay. Cam does everything for Carolina – mostly running read option stuff and bootlegs – take away those and that offense struggles. The Panthers D is strong and once again Rodgers scrambling ability may be the difference in that game. Dallas at Lambeau with all their injured guys back? I don’t see them beating Green Bay at Lambeau. Yeah they have a very good o-line and their D is better, but their running game is a shell of what is was last season. The Packers D is much better stopping the run (this time). The Packers D is ranked second in the league in pressuring and sacking opposing QBs, and their secondary will be excellent shape by the time the Dallas game rolls around if the rookies keep getting all this playing time. If the Packers lose a game they should win, I’d bet it’s the Vikings game in Minnesota. Peterson has given the Packers fits every year he’s played against them including the 2010 season when the Pack won the Super Bowl. Bridgewater might play well enough to pull this out plus and it’s a division rivalry game. Oakland will probably be much improved, but out of contention by December, and the Cardinals D is formidable, but their o-line isn’t very good and you just don’t know if Carson Palmer will make it through the season unscathed come December. The Packers need to take it one game at a time, get home field advantage and the number one seed because although having HFA and the number one seed doesn’t guarentee a team a ticket to the Super Bowl, it’s the easiest way to get there and so far this year the Packers have proven they can win high scoring games, ugly games, defensively dominated games and games with virtually no running game and multiple injuries at key positions. That is in a nutshell the key to winning games in the playoffs so the N.Y. Giants, Seahawks or some other NFC team cannot believe they can march into Lambbeau in January, play the two high safety coverage while rushing four and walk out with a victory because the Packers have no defense, special teams or running game to win games multiple ways as was the case in 2007, 2011 and 2013. Masthay although terrible in the pre-season has gotten better, and for now will make it through the season. The Packers brought in a punter during the pre-season, but he beat out that undrafted punter. If we’ve learned anything about the Thompson/McCarthy regime, it’s that they stick with their guys even if they have a terrrible year (like Crosby did in 2012). It’s still way too early and certainly a long way to go though! Good read Taylor. Thanks.

  2. Masthay has really improved, no significant snafus to speak of. It’s the absence o fRaji and Adams that will affect this game. Somehow, the Packers defense will have to rattle the Rivers-Gates connection. Denver no longer scares me even though it’s at Mile High. Dallas is not last year’s Dallas even if Tony returns. I still think the Cardinals can be dangerous. I’m even thinking Philip Rivers can be dangerous seeing how he is so apt to favor the pass and Carlos is no laughing matter. I’m not sure how Rodgers finds his receivers and that will depend on a pretty healthy Lacy.

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