Green Bay Packers 2023 season preview and predictions
This appeared in the original VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on June 29, 2023.
Matt Youmans: Three years ago, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst started planning for a new era. He traded up to draft Jordan Love, a quarterback from Utah State, in the first round and sent a message to Aaron Rodgers. It’s finally time for the Love affair in Green Bay. Of course, it could turn into hate if the offense falters. Gutekunst is gambling, but he had time to set up Love to succeed. Will the Packers be a disaster without Rodgers or develop into a pleasant surprise? While this team is no longer a Super Bowl contender, it will be intriguing to watch.
Rodgers was not great last season when he threw 12 interceptions, his highest total since 2008. He also failed to get the Packers to the playoffs, ending their three-year run of division titles. Rodgers obviously missed top receiver Davante Adams, who took his talents to Las Vegas last year. Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur loaded up by drafting a total of eight wide receivers and tight ends in the past two drafts. Love will lean most on young receivers Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed along with tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. A power running attack led by Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will be more of a focus, so expect last season’s rushing average (124.3 ypg) to increase. An important element will be the health of left tackle David Bakhtiari, who has dealt with knee injuries. If Bakhtiari is available, the line looks solid with Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan, among others. The growth curve of Love and his young pass catchers will be the key, but Jones and Dillon could carry the offense a long way.
Gutekunst has made eight first-round picks as GM, with seven spent on defense. Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness was this year’s top pick. In 2021, the Packers grabbed two Georgia stars — linebacker Quay Walker and tackle Devonte Wyatt — in the first round. Green Bay was decent defensively last year, ranking 17th in scoring and yards allowed, and needs to make major improvement at stopping the run. The Kenny Clark-led front seven looks strong, especially if Rashan Gary returns to form after an injury and if Walker, Wyatt and Van Ness step up along with linebacker Kingsley Enagbare. The cornerback position is in good shape with Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas, but the safety spots could be soft. Similar to the offense, the defense is young but packed with potential.
It’s tempting to tout the Packers as a surprise team, partly because the masses expect a major decline after Rodgers’ departure. Green Bay went 8-9 with Rodgers, whose diva act became tiring, so why not move on from his big contract and constant whining? One reason to pause is the inexperience of Love, who has played in 10 games, started one and taken 157 career snaps. If Love is a bust, the Packers are in big trouble. The first-half schedule should help Love, with Green Bay facing only one playoff team from last season in the first eight games. The team’s running attack, young receivers and surplus of talent on the defensive front seven indicate the Packers could be better than expected. It’s not too much of a stretch to say Green Bay can win eight or nine games and be better than the Vikings and Bears.
This appeared in the Updated VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on August 31, 2023.
Michael Lombardi: When quarterback Jordan Love takes his first snap on September 7th against the Bears, Packers fans would have spent the last 11,583 days watching either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers dominate the quarterback position as the Week 1 starter. It’s been a hell of a run of over 31 years, eight months, and 11 days. Packers fans have long forgotten about Don Majkowski as their starter and have never had to experience uncertain play from their starter for over three decades. Life is about to get real now. Let’s face it, Packer fans have been spoiled. They might claim they’ve underachieved, having just two Super Bowl wins during that incredible span, and they would be correct. It should have been more. However, having a blue chip player at the most important position for so long is unheard of in pro football, and it may never be duplicated again. Now comes a new era with a head coach who has also been spoiled by a great quarterback.
So far this summer, the Packers look excellent on defense, can rush the passer, and have a rising star in Kingsley Enagbare to go along with Rashan Gary, Preston Smith and Kenny Clark in their front seven. The Packers won’t be easy to block for any team. What we have also learned this summer is Love is not going to be Rodgers. He just needs to be timely with his throws and not be the reason for losing. Is this going to be good enough? We shall see, but playing in the weakened North, it just might be.
Player to Watch: QB Jordan Love
It’s no secret that Green Bay’s player to watch heading into the regular season is Love. With Rodgers now on the Jets, Love is finally getting the keys to the franchise. The former Utah State star was good during the preseason, going 21 for 33 for 193 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions over three games. Love looked very poised in the pocket and made good decisions with the football. Given his impressive talent, he should turn in a great year if he can continue to avoid making mistakes. And if Love looks like the player he was during the preseason, Green Bay has the potential to exceed expectations this season. The NFC North is wide open and the Packers still have a decent amount of talent in place — especially on the defensive side of the ball. - Zachary Cohen
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