NFL - US Sports: Green Bay Packers season preview
More than ever before, the Green Bay Packers' fate this year rests on the shoulders of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst faced a challenging offseason with Rodgers seemingly still unhappy about the franchise's selection of a young QB with potential in the 2020 draft and wide receiver Davante Adams awaiting his chance to hit free agency.
The decision to commit a ton of money and future salary cap space to the 38-year-old signifies a major change in tack.
Adams was eventually traded to the Las Vegas Raiders after refusing to play on the franchise tag, so there are now obvious concerns about a lack of offensive weapons for Rodgers to utilize.
But the back-to-back regular season MVP went 10-1 with 24 touchdowns and only three interceptions in games without Adams since the wideout's arrival in Wisconsin back in 2014, so he might just do all right.
NFL Season 2022/23
All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City
8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023
|How to watch|
The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
Where did the Green Bay Packers finish last season?
1st NFC North (13-4)
What are the Green Bay Packers' hopes for the season?
After losing the NFC Championship Game in each of Matt LaFleur's first two seasons, the pressure is on the head coach to take the Packers to the Super Bowl while Rodgers is still in his prime.
The greatest challenge in the NFC looks likely to come from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is where earning the number one playoff seed and hosting their rivals in potentially freezing January conditions could be crucial to LaFleur's men.
A 2021 study revealed the Packers were 27-9 versus 'warm-weather teams' at Lambeau in sub-freezing temperatures, and 8-0 against the Bucs.
Who are the Green Bay Packers' opening opponents?
The Packers' season-opener is in Minneapolis, meaning LaFleur's men will begin on the road for the fourth consecutive year.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins finished fourth in passer rating last year and RB Dalvin Cook accumulated the fifth-most rushing yards.
That duo, together with wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, helped Minnesota earn a 34-31 regular season win over Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium last year - settled by Greg Joseph's 29-yard field goal as time expired.
The Vikings are 1.76 to repeat that success when the NFC North rivals meet again on 11th September with the Packers at 2.10 on the Money Line.
When are the Green Bay Packers' key matchups?
The Week 3 meeting with the Bucs looks like being a severe early test of the Packers' playoff credentials. The conference favourites won eight games by 13-plus points last season in matching Green Bay's 13-4 record, finishing with the second-most points for and the fifth-fewest against.
There's also the franchise's first-ever visit to London to look forward on Sunday 9th October to take on the New York Giants.
Although the Giants struggled last season and have a new coach in 2022, Big Blue has experienced awkward mid-season transatlantic trips before and returned victories over the Miami Dolphins in 2007 and the Los Angeles Rams in 2016.
If it all goes to plan for the Packers, Week 8's trip to Buffalo will be another acid test as the Bills are the pre-season Super Bowl favourites.
And a Week 15 visit from the Rams should be an important date too as both teams will likely be battling for division titles.
Los Angeles' all-in approach looked to be on the verge of disaster when they lost at Lambeau Field in late November last year, but Sean McVay's team went on to win five straight and storm through the postseason to take the coveted Lombardi Trophy.
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Who is the Green Bay Packers head coach?
LaFleur worked alongside current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan as a quarterbacks coach for the Washington Football Team before then working under him at the Atlanta Falcons.
McVay took him on as offensive coordinator of the Rams for a year and LaFleur gained further experience as Mike Vrabel's OC with the Tennessee Titans before the Packers handed him his first head coaching job.
Green Bay finished with a 13-3 record in his first two seasons at Lambeau Field, but lost in the NFC Championship Game in both postseasons.
After going 13-4 in 2021, the Packers suffered another brutal playoff loss to the Niners, giving LaFleur a 2-3 postseason record.
He subsequently took the blame for the Packers' atrocious special teams execution, particularly one play where they were missing a man on the field during San Francisco's game-winning kick.
Which players have the Green Bay Packers signed?
TE Alizé Mack (Detroit Lions)
K Dominik Eberle (Carolina Panthers)
P Pat O'Donnell (Chicago Bears)
DT Jarran Reed (Kansas City Chiefs)
CB Keisean Nixon (Las Vegas Raiders)
WR Sammy Watkins (Baltimore Ravens)
LB Kobe Jones (Tennessee Titans)
TE Eli Wolf (Indianapolis Colts)
DL Chris Slayton (San Francisco 49ers)
K Gabe Brkic (Minnesota Vikings)
TE Sal Cannella (New Orleans Breakers)
S Dallin Leavitt (Las Vegas Raiders)
C Ty Clary (Miami Dolphins)
WR Osirus Mitchell (Birmingham Stallions)
CB Donte Vaughn (Los Angeles Chargers)
WR Ishmael Hyman (Michigan Panthers)
S Micah Abernathy (Houston Gamblers)
RB Dexter Williams (Philadelphia Stars)
Which players have left the Green Bay Packers?
WR Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders)
P Corey Bojorquez (Cleveland Browns)
LB Oren Burks (San Francisco 49ers)
RT Dennis Kelly (Indianapolis Colts)
CB Kevin King
DE Tyler Lancaster (Las Vegas Raiders)
LB Whitney Mercilus
G Lucas Patrick (Chicago Bears)
WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Chicago Bears)
CB Chandon Sullivan (Minnesota Vikings)
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Kansas City Chiefs)
S Henry Black (New York Giants)
LB Za'Darius Smith (Minnesota Vikings)
Who are the Green Bay Packers' key players?
|Offensive MVP||Aaron Rodgers|
|Defensive MVP||Kenny Clark|
|Top rookie||DE Quay Walker (1st round)|
|Breakout star||RB De'Vondre Campbell|
Rodgers runs the offense in a seamless fashion and nothing appeared to change when he lost both starting tackles to injury for much of last season.
Last season, Green Bay even beat the previously undefeated Cardinals - 7-0 at the time - in Arizona when Rodgers was without all three starting receivers.
Veteran free-agent signee Sammy Watkins and rookie second-round draft pick Christian Watson will need to establish some chemistry with the future Hall of Fame QB though.
Clark is now the biggest name on the Packers defensive line and is rated as one of the best pass-rushing nose tackles in the business.
Campbell impressed in his first year at Lambeau, winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month honours in October and being named 2021 First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career at the end of the season.