The Green Bay Packers have been perennial Super Bowl contenders and a powerhouse in the NFC for over a decade with QB Aaron Rodgers at the helm. The Packers 2022-2023 campaign is Super Bowl or bust with some definite NFC Threats to that quest. Rodgers turns 39 in December, and as his career comes to a close, so does the Packers’ championship window.
Since 2011 the Packers have proven that another Super Bowl appearance, much less a victory, is farfetched. After years of heartbreaking playoff losses, the Packers can’t afford to get ahead of themselves and dismiss seemingly weaker opponents. While the Packers remain a top team in the NFC, there are others in the conference that pose a threat to Green Bay’s shot at the number one seed and a conference championship title.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady was the piece that brought it all together for Tampa Bay after years of a talented roster producing mediocre results. Since 2020, the Bucs have won a Super Bowl and lost to the eventual-Super-Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Playoffs the year after.
The Packers have struggled mightily in their couple bouts against the Brady-led Bucs. Tampa thrashed Green Bay 38-10 in their first meeting of 2020, a game in which the Packers only mustered 201 yards of offense.
Later that season, the two teams met at Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship Game. Brady tossed 3 interceptions and took 5 sacks, yet Tampa defeated Green Bay 31-26 and would go on to win it all.
On paper, the Bucs have a case for the most complete roster in the NFL. They boast one of the more talented defenses in the league and are loaded with offensive weapons. However, they are enduring injuries to the offensive line as well as star WR Chris Godwin, who is expected to return later in the season.
The Packers did not play the Bucs in 2021 but are slated to face them once again this season in week 3. The week 3 matchup could very well be a preview of another potential playoff showdown upcoming this January. Green Bay will be hard pressed to create reliable offense against a sound Bucs defense.
San Francisco 49ers
The Kyle Shanahan era in San Francisco has been a roller coaster ride. Injuries and quarterback uncertainty have derailed nearly every one of their campaigns besides their Super Bowl appearance in the 2019-2020 season. They’ve been successful when QB Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy, but it was despite his volatile play that the 49ers came within 4 points of another NFC title last year.
The 49ers have been a thorn in the side of the Packers during the Rodgers era unlike any other team. Rodgers is 6-7 against San Francisco in his career, including postseason. The 49ers ended the Packers’ season last year in the Divisional round.
Sophomore QB Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury Sunday, which slots Garoppolo back into the starting lineup. Shanahan is 35-15 when Garoppolo starts at QB, and 10-28 when it’s anyone else.
The Packers don’t play the Niners in the regular season this year, but San Francisco is one team Green Bay can’t underestimate in the playoffs. The 49ers are strong contenders for a Wild Card playoff spot and their roster hasn’t gone through drastic changes the past few years.
Through big free agent pickups and superb drafting, the Eagles have constructed a top roster in the NFL and are primed for a breakout season. Philadelphia has surrounded third-year QB Jalen Hurts with one of the best offensive lines in the league and added Pro Bowl receiver AJ Brown to pair with former first-round pick DeVonta Smith.
Philly revamped their secondary with the additions of Chauncy Gardner-Johnson and James Bradberry. They drafted 6’6, 330-pound DT Jordan Davis out of Georgia who has immediately produced for them. Linebackers Kyzir White, Hasaan Reddick and rookie Nakobe Dean are all new, high-upside additions that shore up the middle of their defense.
The Eagles fully committed to Hurts last year and were rewarded with a playoff berth. Heading into 2022, the expectations are even higher. An injury to Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott gives them an even greater chance to win the division and make the playoffs once again in 2022.
The Eagles’ defensive line is the strength of their defense and a unit that could overwhelm a young Packers’ interior offensive line. Jalen Hurts is an electric, dual-threat QB who uses his legs just as well as his arm, a prototype the Packers have struggled to contain in recent history.
Despite being a young team led by a relatively inexperienced QB, the Eagles have what it takes to defeat any team in the NFC. In a game that could preview a potential playoff matchup, Green Bay plays Philadelphia in week 12 when both teams will likely be in peak midseason form.——————