For the second consecutive season, the Green Bay Packers came agonizingly close to stamping their ticket to the Super Bowl. While the 2019 iteration of the club seemed like an overachiever, last year’s team appeared to have everything necessary to win a title. Franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers delivered one of his finest campaigns, setting career highs in touchdown passes (48) and completion percentage (70.7) on his way to a third MVP trophy. The offense featured other All-Pros, including wideout Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari, and center Corey Linsley. The defense didn’t reach the same highs but, headlined by cornerback Jaire Alexander and pass rusher Za’Darius Smith, still performed well enough to keep the Packers competitive.
That roster returns mostly intact for 2021 with one glaring exception. Rodgers, apparently miffed at a number of actions by the front office, reportedly does not want to return to Green Bay. While the exact causes of his dissatisfaction remain unclear, his future with the franchise hangs in the balance. That, in turn, gives the Packers perhaps the widest range of realistic outcomes of any NFL team this season.
Green Bay Packers Super Bowl 56 odds: +1500
While few know whether a path to reconciliation exists for Rodgers and the Packers, getting the reigning MVP back in the fold will effectively determine if Green Bay can compete for the Lombardi Trophy this season. In just two seasons, Rodgers has mastered head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense, and the supporting cast features more talent than all but a few teams. Should he decide to return, Rodgers will have even more weapons this year with wideout Devin Funchess returning from his opt-out, A.J. Dillon taking over as the second running back in the rotation, and third-round rookie Amari Rodgers expected to see significant action in the slot and on jet motion.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers brought in Joe Barry to run a scheme similar to the one run by former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator and current Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. While Barry fell short of expectation during his previous stints as a DC, LaFleur believes the new system will better utilize Green Bay’s talented defensive personnel.
Of course, little of that matters without Rodgers in the fold. The Packers do have a potential successor in Jordan Love, a first-round pick just over a year ago. However, the team left Love on the inactive list for every game last season, opting instead for Tim Boyle as the backup quarterback. Love has the tools necessary to become a starter, but Green Bay probably didn’t plan for him to take over for Rodgers in 2021. Even if Love surprises, the Packers cannot realistically expect to compete for the Super Bowl with him under center this season.
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