Frank Doyle looks at the Green Bay Packers, and wonders if the Super Bowl Champions can repeat this year.
One of the biggest challenges in NFL betting is handicapping the Champion. Once a team has won the Super Bowl it looks invincible, and that aura of invincibility is resting easy on the Packers’ shoulders right now.
Green Bay put on an exhibition in the Super Bowl to leave a very good Steeler team beached like so many whales, and reduce one of the most feared defenses in the League to the status of ordinary mortals. In fact, the big question about the Packers last year was how come they didn’t just cruise to the NFC North title and had to get to the playoffs through the wild card?
Quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers is the key to the Packers. Not since Steve Young replaced Joe Montana in San Francisco has a team enjoyed such a seamless transition at quarterback – ask Miami fans how they’re getting on finding a replacement for Dan Marino. But Rodgers has been outstanding and, if he can stay healthy, he’s in the same bracket at Manning, Brady and Brees. No question.
The Packers are the only team in the NFC North to play a 3-4 defense, but they play it very well. Linebacker Clay Matthews is like Rodgers’ twin on the defense – a man with all the skills, coupled with a burning desire to win that sets him apart from the ordinary.
Green Bay is joint favorite to win the Super Bowl with New England, both priced at +600 or so. That price is right – the Eagles have singed a lot of players and will challenge hard but the Pack are the team to beat in the NFC.
If the Green Bay faithful have a particular concern it’s to do with Rodgers’ health. He was concussed against the Lions and missed a game last year, which was a big source of worry going into the playoffs. Although the Packers have faith in backup Matt Flynn, Green Bay is not the same without Rodgers. Green Bay will go as far as Rodgers’ arm and football brain can carry them – which could be all the way back to the Super Bowl.