ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Aaron Rodgers #12 and Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers of the Green Bay Packers holds the Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Aaron Rodgers;Clay Matthews
NFL Training camp season is always a time for irrational exuberance. Every team thinks it can win the Super Bowl, even though 31 of those teams will end being horribly wrong. And so, to preview the upcoming NFL season, which could be the most unpredictable ever, we now give you five reasons why your favorite team could win the Super Bowl. Today, it's the Green Bay Packers.
1. Uh... didn't they just win the Super Bowl? Indeed they did. My sports almanac says so, and sports almanacs NEVER lie. You might have forgotten about the Packers' impressive barnstorming through the playoff field earlier this year, what with the lockout and the settlement and the WHO HEY LOOGIT WHAT THE EAGLES DID going on. But they remain just as formidable this season as they were last season. In fact, given their spate of injuries last year, they appear to be even more imposing this go round, with the maturation of players like Tramon Williams, James Starks, and Sam Shields. All they lost was Cullen Jenkins. Pretty rare for a Super Bowl champ to avoid a player exodus the following offseason, when other teams giddily overpay for any player with a ring (see: Brown, Larry).
2. Continuity means a lot in a lockout-shortened preseason. You've heard it from any number of analysts: The teams that will be best prepared going into this season are the ones that don't have to integrate new players or coaches into the woodwork. The Packers already had all the pieces in place. And they suffered little to no turnover in the coaching department, with head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers still around to keep things running smoothly. Compare that to...
3. Someone send the Eagles a card for hogging the limelight. ... The Philadelphia Eagles, who will have a mere month to work in all those delightful new toys they've acquired during the offseason. Yet that team still remains a Mike Vick injury away from being 8-8. The Eagles did Green Bay a huge favor this month by sucking all the attention away from the defending champs and being anointed the favorites in the NFC despite the fact that the Packers are still really, really, really good. It not only gives the Packers motivation to repeat, but it takes away a lot of the traditional stresses of being a defending champ: a target on your back every game, increased national media scrutiny, half your players drinking and caking their way to morbid obesity... stuff like that. Few defending champs come into a season as quietly as these Packers will.
4. Sweet Ginger Brown, Aaron Rodgers. It's hard to imagine Aaron Rodgers having a better year than last year, when he won a title AND had the pleasure of watching Brett Favre's career and reputation collapse into a mushy, pantsless heap. But Rodgers indeed can get even better, as his astonishing performance against Atlanta in the divisional round proved. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning still hog much of the Q rating points around the league, but that will end this year. Rodgers is on the verge of becoming a League MVP and perhaps the best quarterback to ever wear a Packers uniform.
5. Man, it almost seems like a repeat is a given, right? Well, except for the potential for Rodgers to get hurt. Or for every other NFL team to amp up their efforts against Green Bay because of lingering hatred for team CEO Mark Murphy, who engendered a lot of anger from players during the lockout negotiations. Or because hey, sometimes luck doesn't go your way. Repeats are never a given. But with this team, it seems like a better bet than most.