Green Bay’s 100th NFL season ended much like their 99th season in the league. The Packers went 13-3 (10-6 ATS) and they lost in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season to start HC Matt LaFleur’s tenure. They finished with the NFC’s best record (+200 to win NFC North) and the conference’s only bye (-130 to make playoffs) with the NFL switching to seven playoff teams per conference this season. The Packers got a number of outstanding performances last season but no one was better in the entire NFL than Aaron Rodgers, who won his third MVP (+3000) in his 13th season as Green Bay’s starting quarterback. Rodgers’ MVP season ended with him becoming the first quarterback to lose in four consecutive conference title game appearances.
The Packers led the league with 31.8 points per game and they allowed the 13th-fewest points per game (23.1), which resulted in a 9-7 mark toward overs. Green Bay ended the year 4-2 in one-score contests and 4-1 in games decided by three scores or more, and they finished with the league’s third-best point differential (+140).
Green Bay’s 2021 win total (10) climbed by half a victory after clinching homefield advantage and reaching the NFC title game last year. The Packers cruised past their 2020 win total by 3.5 victories and they passed their total with their 10th victory of the season over the Lions in Week 14. Entering this season, I have the Packers power rated as the seventh-best team in the NFL (+1300 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the third-best team in the NFC (+600 to win the conference), and as the best team in the NFC North (-160).
Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.
|1||@New Orleans Saints||+3||4:25|
|2||Detroit Lions||-7.5||8:15 (Mon)|
|3||@San Francisco 49ers||+5||8:20|
|7||Washington Football Team||-4||1|
|8||@Arizona Cardinals||+3||8:20 (Thurs)|
|9||@Kansas City Chiefs||+7||4:25|
|12||Los Angeles Rams||+1||4:25|
|16||Cleveland Browns||PK||4:30 (Sat)|
The Packers need to make some noise early before their schedule gets much more difficult starting in Week 9. Green Bay has the Lions, Steelers, Bengals, Bears, Football Team, and Cardinals in Weeks 2-8, who are each lined at 8.5 wins or worse. They’ll at least get a pair of matchups against the Lions and Bears in divisional play.
The Packers will face the 12th-toughest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football), which includes a pair of tough stretches. They’ll take on the Chiefs, Seahawks, Vikings, and Rams in Weeks 9-12, who are each lined at 9+ wins. They then have a three-game stretch against the Ravens, Browns, and Vikings in Weeks 15-17, who are each lined at 9+ wins. The NFL didn’t do the Packers any favors with a pair of short-week road games. They’ll take on the 49ers in Week 3 after a MNF contest the week before and they’ll travel to Arizona for TNF in Week 8. The NFL also scheduled Green Bay for five primetime games, and the Packers have a pair of games against teams coming off byes against the Seahawks in Week 10 and the Rams in Week 12.
Key Off-season Moves
|Randall Cobb (WR)||Eric Stokes (CB)||Jamaal Williams (RB, Det)|
|De’Vondre Campbell (OLB)||Josh Myers (C)||Rick Wagner (OT)|
|Amari Rodgers (WR)||Corey Linsley (C, LAC)|
|Royce Newman (OG)||Christian Kirksey (LB, Hou)|
|Tim Boyle (QB, Det)|
|Lane Taylor (OG, Hou)|
2021 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||10 (-140/+115)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 10.5 (-143) in late March to 10 (-140)
Super Bowl: +900 in early February to +1300
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Packers have racked up identical 13-3 records with NFC Championship Game appearances in each of Matt LaFleur’s first two seasons. Aaron Rodgers, the catalyst for the entire organization, reported to training camp and he’s back in the mix after an off-season of discontent with GM Brian Gutekunst and the rest of the Packers’ front office. Rodgers, who won his third MVP last season, showed he still has plenty left in the tank after the franchise drafted his potential successor in Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft. He’s bound to regress after he threw 48 TDs to just five INTs with a ridiculous 9.1% TD rate in 2020, but he established he’s still one of the league’s premier QBs at 37 years old after he threw for just 51 combined TDs in 2018-19.
Green Bay has a star-studded roster outside of their MVP quarterback, including arguably the league’s best receiver in Davante Adams and the best pass defender in Jaire Alexander. Adams and Rodgers had one of the best connections last season with Adams leading the league in touchdowns (18) and receiving yards per game (98.1). Alexander graded out as the best outside cornerback by PFF after he allowed just 353 receiving yards across 17 games (playoffs included). Rodgers also has Aaron Jones at his disposal, who is one of the few game-changing backs. He landed a four-year, $48 million deal with $13 million guaranteed this off-season to keep him and his career 5.2 YPC average in the fold, which will give the Packers a chance to lead the league in scoring for a second straight season.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The Packers have only one direction to go after going 13-3 in each of LaFleur’s first two seasons and with their quarterback coming off a legendary season in Packers’ history. Rodgers is also upset with how the front office has treated him (and his favorite teammates). It’s fair to wonder if he’ll have the same fire he played with for the entire 2020 season with his future with organization up in the air after this season. Rodgers also won’t have the same caliber of offensive line in front of him this season. His center Corey Linsley bolted to the Chargers this off-season after he earned first-team All-Pro honors last season. It’s also yet to be seen when LT David Bakhtiari will be ready to play this season after he tore his ACL late last season and had surgery in January. He opened training camp on the PUP list and there’s a solid chance he remains on the list to start the regular season, which would keep him out for the first six weeks of the regular season.
The Packers’ front office didn’t exactly inspire much confidence with their decision to hire Joe Barry to take over as the defensive coordinator after they declined to retain Mike Pettine at the conclusion of 2020. Barry orchestrated some of the league’s worst defenses in his previous two stints as a defensive coordinator in Detroit (2007-08) and Washington (2015-16), which both ended in him getting fired after two seasons. The Lions finished dead last in total defense and scoring defense in both 2007 and 2008 while his Washington defenses finished 28th in total defense in both 2015 and 2016. The Packers should have an above-average defense again this season but they still have concerns at linebacker and first-round pick Eric Stokes or Kevin King will need to solidify their second CB spot. They also need Preston Smith or Rashan Gary to step up across from Za’Darius Smith to give the Packers a second pass rusher.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Aaron Rodgers: passing yards (4550.5), passing TDs (35.5), MVP (+1000), most passing TDs (+800), most passing yards (+1400)
Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (4445), passing TDs (37)
Best-Case Scenario: Rodgers comes out guns blazing and he continues to play at an elite level after an off-season of discontent with the Packers’ front office.
Worst-Case-Scenario: A disinterested Rodgers fails to match his level of play from 2020 when a pissed-off Rodgers took the Packers to the NFC Championship Game while winning the MVP.
Aaron Jones: rushing yards (1050.5), rushing TDs (9), most rushing yards (+2200), most rushing TDs (+1800)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (1015), rushing TDs (9)
Best-Case Scenario: Jones continues to be one of the most efficient runners in the league with his career 5.2 YPC average and he gets a little extra work with Jamaal Williams gone.
Worst-Case-Scenario: A.J. Dillon bites off a big chunk of the early-down work, and the Packers offensive line struggles a bit with Corey Linsley gone and David Bakhtiari returning to the lineup later in the season.
A.J. Dillon: rushing yards (690.5)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (785)
- Best-Case Scenario: Dillon lives up to the promise he briefly showed as a rookie with his 5.3 YPC average on 46 carries and his thunder is the perfect complement to Aaron Jones’ lightning in this backfield.
- Worst-Case-Scenario: Dillon doesn’t exactly remind people of Derrick Henry in his first chance at significant playing time, and he’s not helped by the Packers’ O-line taking a step back.
Davante Adams: receiving yards (1300.5), receiving TDs (11), receptions (110.5), OPOY (+1600), most receiving yards (+900), most receiving TDs (+700)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1225), receiving TDs (13), receptions (102)
Best-Case Scenario: Adams remains the league’s gold standard at the position with another dominant season and he gets his wish to be the highest-paid WR in the league in the off-season.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Aaron Rodgers can’t keep up his blistering pace from his MVP campaign, and Adams faces a little more target competition with Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, and Devin Funchess added to the mix.
Aaron Rodgers under 4550.5 passing yards (-112, FanDuel) — Rodgers hasn’t thrown for 4500+ yards since 2011, which was the only time he did it in his career. Granted, Rodgers will have an extra game to get to that mark, but he’ll have to play in all 17 games to have any chance to clear his passing yards total. The Packers have been a little more balanced since Matt LaFleur took over the time two years ago, and it shouldn’t change this season with the Packers installing big-back A.J. Dillon next to Aaron Jones in the backfield this season. Rodgers has averaged 34.2 passes per game in his first two seasons under LaFleur after averaging 36.7 passes per game in his final four seasons under Mike McCarthy. At the end of the day, you’re not going to make much money betting against generational quarterbacks and reigning MVPs so I’m passing on this prop.
Green Bay Packers under 10.5 wins (+100, WilliamHill) — The Packers can only go down after a 26-6 run in the last two regular seasons, and it wasn’t exactly the smoothest off-season for the franchise. Aaron Rodgers has one foot out the door and he’s bound for some regression at 37 years old after he led the league in touchdown passes (48), TD rate (9.1%), INT rate (1.0%), completion percentage (70.7%), and QB rating (121.5) last season. His issues could start up front after his dominant O-line took some hits this off-season. All-Pro C Corey Linsley bolted to the Chargers in free agency while LT David Bakhtiari’s is questionable for the start of the season after he had ACL surgery in January. The Packers’ front office also made a bizarre hire when they installed Joe Barry as their new defensive coordinator. Barry orchestrated some of the league’s worst defenses in his previous two stints as a defensive coordinator in Detroit (2007-08) and Washington (2015-16), which both ended in him getting fired after two seasons. The NFC North should also be tougher this season with the Vikings reloading on defense and with the Bears trading Mitchell Trubisky in for Justin Fields.