Looking into the NFL crystal ball

  • Updated: September 8, 2011 - 6:38 AM

The Packers offense, led by QB Aaron Rodgers, could be even more dangerous with TE Jermichael Finley and RB Ryan Grant returning from injuries.

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers

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GREEN BAY

Strengths: The Packers offense, led by QB Aaron Rodgers, could be even more dangerous with TE Jermichael Finley and RB Ryan Grant returning from injuries. The defense is fully comfortable with coordinator Dom Capers' scheme in his third year as Green Bay defensive coordinator.

Weaknesses: The Packers have had some trouble with pass protection early in preseason as they look for a replacement for left guard Daryn Colledge. Veteran T.J. Lang won the job over Derek Sherrod.

New faces: OL Sherrod, WR/RS Randall Cobb, RB/RS Alex Green.

Key losses: DE Cullen Jenkins, LG Daryn Colledge, LB Nick Barnett, LB Brandon Chillar, LB Brady Poppinga, RT Mark Tauscher.

Expectations: The Packers know it's difficult for Super Bowl champions to repeat, but they believe they can nonetheless. If complacency creeps in, they can remind themselves they barely made the playoffs last year before their dominant run to the Super Bowl.

DETROIT

Strengths: The defensive line. All-Pro Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril were powerful enough last season to hide some of the team's lackluster back seven. And Detroit is solid at wide receiver with Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson.

Weaknesses: The secondary. CBs Eric Wright and Chris Houston are hampered by injury, and S Louis Delmas makes big hits but can't seem to stay healthy. S Amari Spievey might have been replaced if the team could have addressed all its needs in the shortened offseason. OTs Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus are coming off major injuries.

New faces: Wright, LB Stephen Tulloch, LB Justin Durant, DT Nick Fairley, WR Titus Young.

Key losses: LB Julian Peterson, DE Turk McBride, RB Kevin Smith.

Expectations: Respectability. Detroit hasn't had a winning record since 2000 and hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. If a lot goes well -- particularly health at QB and CB -- those droughts could end.

CHICAGO

Strengths: Defense. With Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, the Bears have a solid core. The return game still figures to be a strength, as Devin Hester remains a threat any time he touches the ball.

Weaknesses: The offensive line. Chicago gave up a league-high 56 sacks, with Jay Cutler taking all but four. For now, Roberto Garza moves from RG to C, replacing Pro Bowl pick Olin Kreutz.

New faces: WR Roy Williams, S Brandon Meriweather, RB Marion Barber, WR Sam Hurd, DT Amobi Okoye, P Adam Podlesh, OL Chris Spencer, TE Matt Spaeth, OL Gabe Carimi.

Key losses: Kreutz, TE Greg Olsen, P Brad Maynard, DT Tommie Harris, S Danieal Manning.

Expectations: For all their OL problems last year, the Bears still reached the NFC title game. The way Cutler was getting knocked around early made a deep playoff run unlikely. Now? If the line comes together, the Bears likely will be in good shape.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
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Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon
 
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