Green Bay Packers
2009 record: 11-5 (Second in NFC North)
Steve WycheAaron Rodgers will light things up behind an upgraded line. NT B.J. Raji, playing his natural position, will be a top defender.
4,000The passing yards Aaron Rodgers has surpassed in each of his first two seasons as a starter. He's the first quarterback to accomplish the feat. A third straight 4,000-yard season could mean an MVP award and more.
The rookie from Georgia Tech, who replaces the injured Atari Bigby, enters the league with the reputation for being a ball hawk, and those skills will be tested in a division that features a couple of prolific aerial attacks. How well he fares in the backend will go a long ways towards determining the Packers' fortunes.
Nick BarnettBarnett led the Packers in tackles for the fifth time in his seven-year career, while making the transition to the "Mack" linebacker position in Dom Capers' 3-4. Although Barnett is a little undersized for the position, his athleticism and outstanding instincts allow him to slip through creases to make impact plays against the run and pass. With another offseason spent acclimating to Capers' system, Barnett will continue to be a difference-maker in Green Bay.
Rodgers for MVPAaron Rodgers has scored more fantasy points than any other player over the last two years. That trend should continue in 2010. He has a very favorable schedule ahead, and the talent around him is immense. Don't be shocked if Rodgers emerges into fantasy football's MVP this season.
Three pivotal games
Sept. 12 at PhiladelphiaThe Packers have big aspirations and a victory on the road to start the season would be a strong statement. The matchup represents the only team Green Bay will face with a winning record from last season through the first six weeks. A win would give Aaron Rodgers and Co. a clear path to a quick start as the Packers aim to capture the NFC North title.
Oct. 24 vs. MinnesotaThe Vikings won the division by one game last season, which can be traced back to their season sweep of the Packers. Green Bay gets another chance to beat former hero Brett Favre and take a step toward dethroning Minnesota. The Packers will feel confident if Rodgers plays like he did in the two matchups a season ago, when he had 671 yards passing, five touchdowns and just one interception.
Dec. 19 at New EnglandSome might think this could serve as a Super Bowl preview, but the Packers will be focused on playoff positioning. Traveling to New England should offer Green Bay a measure of how good it is heading down the stretch, particularly on defense. The Packers had much success moving to the 3-4 scheme last season, but it's a look Tom Brady and Bill Belichick know well.