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.
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.
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.——————
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.