The Packers had a memorable first season under head coach Matt LaFleur, who guided his new team to the NFC Championship. Green Bay came into 2019 off of back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since before Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre became the franchise’s starting QBs back in 1990-91. The Packers finished last regular season with an incredible seven-win improvement from their six-win campaign in 2018, and they finished 14-4 overall after beating the Seahawks in the Divisional Round and losing to the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Green Bay finished 11-7 against the spread, and they cashed in +225 odds to win the NFC North and -110 odds to reach the playoff.
The Packers reached the final four in the league because of an incredible 9-1 record in one-score games (playoffs included). San Francisco exposed the Packers in the NFC Championship as overachievers in a lopsided title-game affair. The Packers finished 2-2 in games decided by three scores or more with both losses coming at the hands of the 49ers. Green Bay finished with a 10-8 mark toward under totals after scoring 23.6 points per game (14th-most) and allowing 20.7 PPG (12th-fewest).
Green Bay’s 2020 season win total stayed exactly the same at nine victories despite winning 13 games and reaching the NFC Championship last season. The Packers climbed over their 2019 win total of nine victories with their Week 14 victory over the Redskins. Green Bay has -134 odds to make back-to-back playoff appearances, which would be the Packers 10th postseason appearance in Rodgers’ 13 seasons as the starter. Entering the season, I have the Packers power rated as the 13th-best team in the NFL (+2800 to win Super Bowl LV), as the eighth-best team in the NFC (+1300 to win the conference), and as the second-best team in the NFC North (+180).
|Week||Opponent (spread if available)||Time|
|1||@Minnesota Vikings (+3.5)||1|
|2||Detroit Lions (-6)||1|
|3||@New Orleans Saints (+6.5)||8:20 (Sun)|
|4||Atlanta Falcons||8:15 (Mon)|
|6||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4:25|
|9||@San Francisco 49ers||8:20 (Thurs)|
|11||@Indianapolis Colts (+3)||1|
|12||Chicago Bears||8:20 (Sun)|
|13||Philadelphia Eagles (-2)||4:25|
|16||Tennessee Titans||8:20 (Sun)|
Key Off-season Moves
Christian Kirksey (LB)
A.J. Dillon (RB)
Rick Wagner (OT)
Jordan Love (QB)
Josiah Deguara (TE)
Jimmy Graham (TE, Chi)
Blake Martinez (LB, NYG)
Bryan Bulaga (OT, LAC)
Geronimo Allison (WR, Det)
Kyler Fackrell (LB, NYG)
2020 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||8.5 (-137/+113)|
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
Green Bay had a truly bizarre off-season for a team that finished just two wins short of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of last season. GM Brian Gutekunst and HC Matt LaFleur put an exclamation point on their strange decisions by drafting the successor for their Super Bowl-winning QB Aaron Rodgers in the first round, despite their franchise QB being only 36 years old and under contract through the 2023 season. Rodgers is likely to play this season with a little extra motivation like Brett Favre once did after they drafted his eventual successor, Rodgers, back in 2005. The Packers will need a vintage Rodgers performance this season to get back to double-digit wins for a second straight season.
Rodgers still has two of the best skill players at their perspective positions at his disposal this season. Davante Adams is a great bet to finish as a top-10 fantasy WR for the fifth straight season, and Aaron Jones emerged as one of the best all-around backs in the league last season. I’m also very high on TE Jace Sternberger making a leap in his second season as the team’s full-time TE, which would give Rodgers a much-needed second option in this passing game.
The Packers defense could have issues at linebacker after Blake Martinez bolted to the Giants this off-season, but they should still have a strong pass rush and a solid secondary. OLBs Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith combined for 25.5 sacks and Kenny Clark registered six sacks as a nose tackle. Green Bay’s secondary helped this defense finish tied for third in interceptions with 17.
The Packers 2020 schedule is tougher than last season’s slate, but it’s not overwhelming with crossover games with the NFC South and the AFC South. Green Bay will have a chance to make a push for the playoffs or to win the division with four home games in a five-game stretch in Weeks 12-16 with their lone road game being a short trip to Detroit (Chi, Phi, @Det, Car, Ten).
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The Packers finished one win short of reaching Super Bowl LIV last season, but they spent the off-season acting like a team that was preparing for the future instead of acting like a team that was trying to get over the hump to reach the big game one last time with Aaron Rodgers. They made a couple of minor signings (Christian Kirksey, Rick Wagner) to replace some key losses (Bryan Bulaga, Blake Martinez) during free agency, but they failed to upgrade their weak wide receiver depth.
After Green Bay’s quiet free agency, the Packers drafted a backup QB (Jordan Love) in the first round before drafting yet another RB (A.J. Dillon) and an H-back (Josiah Deguera) on Day Two. The Packers had a glaring off-season need at wide receiver, but they passed on upgrading their WR depth behind Davante Adams despite this year’s WR class being one of the deepest in recent history. They also had secondary needs at linebacker and with their O-line depth, but they opted to just take dart throws at those spots with picks in the later rounds.
The Packers are going to have a difficult time matching the success they had in tight games last season after finishing with a ridiculous 9-1 record in one-score games last season, which included a Divisional Round victory over the Seahawks. Green Bay did finish with a +12 turnover differential last season and Rodgers hasn’t thrown more than eight interceptions in a season since 2010 so the Packers are going to have more success in tight games than most teams. Still, the Packers won’t be able to sustain their one-score success from last season especially with some of the opposing quarterbacks who have been added to their schedule this season.
The Packers schedule is much tougher on paper this season, and they have three games against teams lined at 9.5 wins or more and they all come on the road against the Saints in Week 3, the Buccaneers in Week 6, and the 49ers on Thursday Night Football in Week 9. They’ll also face some of the league’s better QBs in their non-divisional games after playing an easy slate of QBs last season, including matchups against Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Deshaun Watson. Green Bay also shares the earliest bye week this year with Detroit in Week 5, which is less than ideal considering teams prefer later bye weeks.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Aaron Rodgers: passing yards (3850.5), passing TDs (26.5), MVP (+3000)
Fantasy Points Projections: passing yards (3925), passing TDs (28)
Best-case Scenario: A motivated Rodgers returns to his QB1 form by topping 30 TDs for the first time since 2016 and by topping 7.5 YPA for the first time since 2014.
Worst-case Scenario: The Packers lean more into their rushing attack after their bizarre draft and Rodgers’ time in Green Bay gets closer to the end after another pedestrian season.
Aaron Jones: rushing yards (950.5), rushing + receiving yards (1325.5), most rushing yards (+2000), OPOY (+5000)
Fantasy Points Projections: rushing yards (1010), rushing + receiving yards (1485)
Best-case Scenario: Jones is still the clear top option in this backfield and Matt LaFleur continues to feature him as the team’s preferred runner, receiver, and goal-line back.
Worst-case Scenario: The Packers drafted big-back A.J. Dillon in the second round, and he immediately cuts into Jones’ workload on early downs and near the goal line.
Davante Adams: receiving yards (1150.5), most receiving yards (+1400), OPOY (+3000)
Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (1240), receptions (98)
Best-case Scenario: Adams runs off his fifth consecutive season as a top-10 WR in FPG, and he finishes among the league leaders in targets with little competition for looks in Green Bay.
Worst-case Scenario: The Packers lean more into their running game after drafting A.J. Dillon to pair with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, and Adams misses game action for the fourth straight season.
Best Bets and Leans
I initially had the Packers power rated a half-point behind the Vikings in my initial ratings after the draft. After digging into every team for these previews, I’m a little lower on the Vikings and I’d have the Packers as the top-rated team in the NFC North. I’d have the Packers rated above the Vikings right now, but I’m not feeling particularly bullish about Green Bay or any other team in this middling NFC North.
The Packers finished with a +104 point differential last season, which was nine points fewer than the Cowboys, a team that had five fewer victories than Green Bay. The Packers pulled out nine of their 10 close games last season (playoffs included), and they’re very unlikely to keep up there .900 winning percentage in one-score games this season. Green Bay’s 2020 schedule is significantly tougher than the one they faced last year when they faced QBs like Matt Moore, Joe Flacco, Kyle Allen, Dwayne Haskins, and David Blough. The Packers also have to play their three toughest opponents (the Bucs, the 49ers, and the Saints) all on the road this season, which is no easy task.
The Packers failed to improve their roster this off-season after primarily spending free agency on the sidelines and after looking to the future with their first couple picks in the draft. I’m expecting Green Bay to come back to the pack in the NFC North this season and for the division to be competitive from top to bottom so I’m leaning toward the Packers to finish under nine wins this season.
Best Bets: None
Leans: Packers to finish under nine wins (-110, FoxBet).