With the potential trade of Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets expected to go through, the Packers fans have begun to look at their team’s chances for the 2023 season.
FanDuel and DraftKings, the nation’s top 2 sportsbooks, are not overly confident the Packers can win the NFC North, let alone make the playoffs. DraftKings have the Packers the worst odds to win the NFC North division at +500, while FanDuel offers the same play at +410.
Of course, the NFC North doesn’t have a titan but with an improved Detroit Lions hoping to build off a solid 2022 campaign, a Chicago Bears squad looking to capitalize off their trade of the number one pick, and the returning division champion Minnesota Vikings looking to repeat, the Packers certainly face an uphill battle to return to NFC glory.
When looking to answer the question of whether the Packers can make the playoffs without Rodgers, there’s two major things that must happen before the Packers can realistically dream of an NFC North title.
Jordan Love Must Take Big Developmental Stride
We all know that the NFL is a quarterback-led league and for the Packers to make the playoffs, Love will have to be efficient and keep the turnovers to a minimum.
After spending the majority of 2022 working with Packers QB coach Tom Clements to improve his footwork, progression reads, and timing, Green Bay fans will now see if that training pays off as Love adds a new athletic element to the offense.
Although Love has been in the league two years, he has only one start under his belt, a 13-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in November 2021. So essentially, Love is about to enter his rookie year.
If Clements and Matt LaFleur can mold Love to play smart, turnover-resistant football, the 24-year-old could lead the Packers to the NFL playoffs.
Packers Put Together an Outstanding 2023 Draft Class
Perhaps the toughest box to check on this list is the third hurdle, turning their numerous 2023 draft picks into one of the best classes in recent memory for Green Bay. As it stands before we know the compensation of the Rodgers trade, the Packers’ front office holds 10 picks in this year’s draft, but four of those picks come at the end of the 7th round.
So, for all intents and purposes, the Packers need to hit on their six picks in the first five rounds.
Draft experts are suggesting GM Brian Gutekunst and his front office is looking to bolster QB Jordan Love’s weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Todd McShay’s current mock draft on ESPN has the Packers taking Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer in the first round at pick 15.
At six foot, five inches, Mayer would certainly add an athletic monster to the Packers’ pass receiving corps. Mayer also provides Green Bay with an outstanding red zone target to help Love settle into the role of starting QB.
The Packers could also trade their first rounder and move down a few spots, picking up an additional 3rd rounder to add depth to the roster. If the Packers skip on Mayer, Utah TE Dalton Kincaid could be sitting for Green Bay in the 2nd round.
If the Packers add talent at the draft, Love makes stride as the Packers’ signal caller, and the defense improves, then the Packers offer value to sports bettors to win the NFC North and make the NFL playoffs.