A Loaded NFC Will Make for Stiff Competition for the Packers in 2018

The Packers will face one of the toughest NFC fields ever in their quest for another Super Bowl.

The Green Bay Packers will enter the 2018 season as one of the top favorites to take home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.  With Aaron Rodgers steering the ship for the team, they have become a perennial contender for a Super Bowl title.  But where Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England Patriots organization seemingly have another easy road to their conference championship game and a shot to play in yet another Super Bowl, the road to the big game in the NFC is no cake walk.  Heading into this season, the Packers could be facing one of the strongest NFC fields since Rodgers has been leading the team.

With hopes of a Super Bowl title high entering this year, the Packers must first focus on their six NFC North divisional games to guarantee a top-four seed with a division win.  The old black and blue division sure got a lot tougher to win this off-season.  The Minnesota Vikings enter the season as the reigning division champion and their stellar defense looks to remain intact and primed for another run.  The big question with the Vikings is if the addition of Kirk Cousins will finally push them over the hump to get to the Super Bowl.

The Packers other two divisional foes also saw great improvements this off-season.  In Detroit, new head coach Matt Patricia looks to bring a disciplined approach to a talented team.  To help Matt Stafford, the team added LeGarrette Blount and second-round pick Kerryon Johnson to their backfield to help complement their already potent passing game.  Questions remain for the Lions on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense will remain as dangerous as ever.

Moving on to the Chicago Bears, the team absolutely killed it in free agency with the additions of wide receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton.  Their addition of first-round selection Roquan Smith will look to help bring their defense back to prominence as well.  The Bears hired a new head coach in Matt Nagy and his offensive prowess should help second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky improve greatly.  Chicago could turn some heads as a surprise team in 2018.

The next challenge that the Packers face during the regular season of the upcoming season is the NFC West, with the team playing all four teams from that division.  In Los Angeles, the Rams appear to have gone all in during free agency to load their team around Jared Goff while he is still on his rookie deal.  Similar to Seattle a few years back, the Rams defense is primed to lead the team to the promise land if Goff can put things together for the offense.  In Seattle, the always dangerous Russell Wilson has a new cast around him and the defense for the Seahawks will look to get back to their old ways.  While rumors have swirled around the Seahawks of strife in their locker room between players and the coaching staff, Seattle will remain a tough opponent in 2018.

After struggling for several years, the San Francisco 49ers played lights out at the end of the 2017 season with new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo leading the team and they enter 2018 as one of the sexy picks to make a strong playoff run.  The Arizona Cardinals remain an older, veteran-filled team and now have Sam Bradford and first-round pick Josh Rosen battling at quarterback.  Certainly one of the weakest team in their division, the Cardinals still have pieces in place to put some wins on the board against strong competition.

If the Packers play well enough and are fortunate to obtain a spot in the playoffs this upcoming season, the competition surely gets stiffer from there.  The NFC South returns three playoff teams from the 2017 season and all four teams look primed to make a push once again to win their division.  Norv Turner will look to return Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to prominence as their new offensive coordinator.  One year removed from their Super Bowl disaster, the Atlanta Falcons remain as dangerous as ever with a highly potent offensive attack.  And with Drew Brees hitting the twilight of his career, the New Orleans Saints remain a contender with a revamped defense and look to get back to the playoffs in 2018.                                                                                                                                                                                

In the NFC East, the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles return quarterback Carson Wentz to their lineup and will be hungry to show that their championship was no fluke.  The Dallas Cowboys surely disappointed in 2017, but Dak Prescott and company will look to bring their talented offense back to prime form.  In New York, the Giants are coming off of a couple of dreadful years.  But with the addition of highly touted running back Saquon Barkley to their lineup, Eli Manning could be due to make another Super Bowl run out of nowhere.  Last, in Washington, the Redskins opted to finally be rid of Kirk Cousins at quarterback and brought in Alex Smith to hopefully guide the team on a playoff run in 2018.  While he has done so with the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years, the big question in our nation’s capital will be if Smith still has that kind of juice in him.

When looking at the entire NFC, the Vegas oddsmakers sure seem to agree that the competition will be stiff for the George Halas Trophy.  Of the top 16 teams in the Vegas odds for the Super Bowl, the NFC has 10 of the spots claimed.  New England remains the best odds for the Super Bowl and this fact shows that the AFC is a much easier contest to win.

As Packers fans hold high hopes for another Super Bowl run, it is no doubt that the competition the team faces in their conference will be one of the toughest fields in recent memory.  Week in and week out during the 2018 season, every game will matter for critical playoff seeding come January and the team surely can’t lose focus against any opponent that they face this season.

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Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Comments (12)

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michael562's picture

July 06, 2018 at 01:59 pm

What's with the "George Halas" Trophy?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 06, 2018 at 02:11 pm

"Beginning with the 1984-85 season, the winner of the NFC Championship Game has received the George Halas Trophy, named after the longtime owner and coach of the Chicago Bears, a charter member of the NFL."

The AFL winner gets the Lamar Hunt Trophy. I had to google it: I don't remember ever hearing of either trophy.

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Paul Konieczny's picture

July 06, 2018 at 06:01 pm

Come on Rey, I can’t call you Great if you didn’t know of the Halas and Hunt trophies. What’s one rung below great, the really good Reynoldo?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 07, 2018 at 04:28 am

The nickname was a back-handed compliment in the first place. It was bestowed upon me by my high school Latin teacher who was frustrated by my, um, erratic scholarship. Same for my coaches. It always meant something closer to the sometimes great, sometimes not so great.

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michael562's picture

July 06, 2018 at 02:15 pm

Thanks

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pooch's picture

July 06, 2018 at 02:27 pm

Good beat the best and screw the rest don't need a pansy schedule

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Bearmeat's picture

July 06, 2018 at 09:51 pm

Finally! A fellow Vikings realist! They have a very good defense that was unbelievably healthy last year. They have two pretty good WRs and a halfway not sucky TE. We'll see with Cook.

They're good. They're also very very beatable. I expect to win the division this year (with a healthy ARod), and to win it all by 2020.

I also expect the Vikings to make the playoffs and then to pull a full-out Vikings and choke.

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GBwastedthe12thoverallpick's picture

July 06, 2018 at 05:03 pm

He said 'stiff'. Uh huh, huh huh, uh huh huh.

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

July 06, 2018 at 05:05 pm

This just in: the Bears still suck.
And the Vikings & Lions have still combined to have won as many Super Bowls as the Brewers have.

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Rak47's picture

July 06, 2018 at 05:57 pm

The division games are always tough especially on the road. But the NFC is loaded with teams who actually have a shot at winning the SB if luck goes their way. Going to be tough sledding in the NFC but that will make whatever teams get to the playoffs battle hardened. I sure hope GB can win the division and get a bye and home game. The regular season will have them ready.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 06, 2018 at 11:14 pm

Don't care all that much about the Division...just win the SB baby!

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