Three Reasons the Packers Will Repeat as NFC North Champs in 2020

The 2020 NFL season will be more difficult to predict than almost any other in recent memory, but that won’t stop me from giving it a shot. The Green Bay Packers enter 2020 as the favorites to win the NFC North again. Not that there will be no competition, mind you as each of the other three teams (yes, even the Lions) have reasons for optimism.

Here is a look at three reasons why the Packers are likely to repeat as NFC North champions this season:

3. The Packers Have Difference Makers at Key Positions on Both Sides of the Ball

The Packers roster is far from perfect, no NFL team’s is, but the Pack have a lot of difference makers and potential difference makers at key positions.

Offensively, the Packers have real playmakers in Aaron Jones and Davante Adams. Yes, tight end is a bit of an unknown and WR depth is a question, but Jones and Adams give the Packers two Pro Bowl-caliber players who can come up with big plays at key moments. Both of those players are threats to score any time they touch the ball.

Add All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari to the group and the Packers have another elite offensive player on their roster to protect Aaron Rodgers’ blindside.

Defensively, Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith are joined by Kenny Clark as difference makers with Jaire Alexander on the cusp of entering that category if he can just learn how to hold on to some of his interception opportunities a bit better.

2. The Packers Have a Lot of Continuity

The Packers have a lot of continuity on their roster and this season, that will be more vital than ever because of the lack of OTAs, minicamps and preseason games and the truncated training camp.

The Packers return nine starters on offense from a year ago with only TE Jimmy Graham and RT Bryan Bulaga not returning. In fact, the Packers also got back an opening day starter from a year ago in Lane Taylor and will have more depth along the offensive line than they had in the past.

Defensively, the two inside linebackers are the only players who are new to the starting lineup as of now and one of them, Christian Kirksey, already has experience playing in Mike Pettine’s defense from his time in Cleveland. Most of the candidates to take over the other starting ILB job were at least on the roster last season including Oren Burks and Ty Summers.

The two outside linebackers, all three starting defensive linemen and all four starting defensive backs are all returning.

Meanwhile, the Vikings had a high amount of turnover on their roster this offseason, losing key parts of their secondary like Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander and defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen. Yes, the Vikings drafted heavily to add talent to their defensive backfield, but rookies usually struggle and this year they will likely struggle even more than usual.

The Bears still don’t have a consistent quarterback and have a questionable offensive line that failed to open many holes for their running backs. The Bears defense remains a force although they lost some depth in the offseason there as well when players like Nick Kwiatkoski, Nick Williams and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix departed.

As for the Lions, they are replacing their best defensive back in Darius Slay and are attempting a major overhaul of their offensive line and still lack an outstanding edge rusher. The Lions have some talent on their roster, especially at quarterback, but there was still a lot more turnover on the Detroit roster then there was in Green Bay and there are a lot of question marks.

1. Aaron Rodgers

Say what you want about Rodgers decline, but he’s still the best quarterback in the division. Kirk Cousins can be efficient and effective and so can Nick Foles, but neither of them is at the level Rodgers is at even now when he’s no longer playing the way he did at the height of his ability from 2009-2016.

Rodgers still doesn’t turn the ball over often and still comes through in the clutch in key situations like he did late in both games against the Lions and against the Seahawks in the playoffs last season. He will also have a familiar receiving corps as it is likely the Packers top four receivers will all be players he has worked with before.

Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is quite talented quarterback, but he still hasn’t won a playoff game in his NFL career. He is also coming off a season-ending injury and won’t have the preseason to help get back his timing.

The Packers quarterback still can move around well in the pocket and buy time to make big plays downfield. His accuracy deep and over the middle of the field is not quite what it was, but if you had to pick one quarterback in the NFC North to win one game, you know it would be A-Rod.

It won’t be easy for the Packers and the competition will be tight, but the Packers should still be considered the favorites to repeat as NFC North champs heading into the 2020 campaign.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (37)

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nygary's picture

August 15, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Nice job Gil. Let's hope we can get a full season.

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Thanks, nygary. I'm hoping we can as well. Nothing can be taken for granted these days. Thanks for commenting.

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Bure9620's picture

August 15, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Agree with all of this.....I predict the Vikings to struggle the first half of the season....I know people were losing it over Jefferson, but seriously how many receivers ball out as rookies? Especially with this years camp...In fact I see the biggest competition to the Packers being the Bears...Foles will help stabilize that offense.

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IceBowl's picture

August 15, 2020 at 01:16 pm

FYI, Bears local reporter expects Trubisky to start.

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Bure9620's picture

August 15, 2020 at 01:32 pm

Yes for now......

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dobber's picture

August 15, 2020 at 02:40 pm

When you have 2 QBs, you have no QBs.

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 02:49 pm

Yeah, that's the cliche and except in a few cases, I think that's mostly right. Tough to function as a team when the locker room is divided. Thanks for the comment, dobber.

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dobber's picture

August 15, 2020 at 03:09 pm

Cliche is my specialty! I always give 110%!

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Oppy's picture

August 15, 2020 at 08:00 pm

I think you just earned a Since'61 cookie

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splitpea1's picture

August 15, 2020 at 03:16 pm

Foles is a good QB. Since he and Nagy have worked together in the past, I don't see any reason why he can't succeed with the Bears, provided there is enough talent around him.

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Stroh's picture

August 16, 2020 at 11:47 am

Foles looks really good in the short term, but he gets exposed for what he is in the long term. He's average at best and much less than that in reality.

Like Dobber said (in this thread he beat me to it) "If you have 2 QB's you have No QB's!". Competition is great at every position on a football team, EXCEPT at QB!

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 07:41 pm

Wow. I don't think he'll stay the starter throughout the season even if he's healthy. Thanks IceBowl.

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dobber's picture

August 15, 2020 at 08:45 pm

Pace and Nagy have a lot riding on Trubisky. Their insistence on trying to show they're right will cost them their jobs.

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Stroh's picture

August 16, 2020 at 11:51 am

Drafting Trubisky has cost them their jobs. They just don't know it yet. Particularly when they could have had Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson instead.

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 02:48 pm

Thanks for the comment, Bure9620. I think Foles will be an update over Trubisky mainly because he'll be able to take what is there more consistently. The Vikings may struggle early as you said, even more than most teams. I get the feeling September football may be sloppy as heck.

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Stroh's picture

August 16, 2020 at 11:53 am

An update? over trubisky... That's like a newer version of the same thing. Either way its still flawed!

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TheBigCheeze's picture

August 15, 2020 at 01:16 pm

....seems the Packer fans have more respect for Foles than bear fans.....Foles is underrated......he'll be starting, probably day 1.....

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Bure9620's picture

August 15, 2020 at 01:38 pm

Agreed...or soon thereafter

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 02:50 pm

I think Foles will win the job eventually. I don't think Trubisky breaks out this year and he may need a change of scenery to reach his full potential. Thanks for commenting, TheBigCheeze.

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Stroh's picture

August 16, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Foles looks good in the short term, but relatively quickly teams figure him out and he regresses to what he is. That's been the thing with him for a loong time now. He had one season where he looked really good early in his career. Then teams figured him out. Since then he can look good for a couple games, and then gets figured out. Each time it happens sooner than the last. He's below average overall. But Trubisky is terrible, so call it an improvement if you want, but you have to ask yourself... An improvement over what?

Either way its not good enough to win with!

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dobber's picture

August 15, 2020 at 03:08 pm

Packers release CB Marc-Antoine Dequoy, TE James Looney, and WR Darrell Stewart

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Bure9620's picture

August 15, 2020 at 03:20 pm

Interesting, must not have wowed anyone at practice today.........likely showed they did not belong

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flackcatcher's picture

August 15, 2020 at 05:40 pm

Agree. Competing against the rookies for a roster spot, bet they were not physically ready to play.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 16, 2020 at 06:03 am

They were released prior to practice. GB needed to get down to 80 players on the field or they would have been required to have split practices.

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 07:42 pm

Yeah, so that. Was kind of rooting for those three for different reasons but can't say I'm shocked. I just wish they had a chance to show what they could do in a preseason game or two but nothing is normal this year. Thanks as always for the comment, dobber.

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13TimeChamps's picture

August 15, 2020 at 03:40 pm

This article got me thinking of the other starting QB's in the North.

Assuming Trubisky starts (and I realize that's a huge if), Trubisky, Stafford and Cousins have combined to win ONE playoff game in their collective careers. Together, they've been in the league 22 years, with ONE playoff win to show for it. I understand Foles has won a Super Bowl with Philly, but to be fair, his career has been very spotty and inconsistent. He seems to perform better as a backup, without the pressures and expectations of a starter.

Come playoff time, I'll take Rodgers in a heartbeat over any of them.

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splitpea1's picture

August 15, 2020 at 04:20 pm

I'd have to disagree with you about Foles. In addition to his playoff wins, he did have a 27 TD/ 2 INT season in 2013, and I would disregard his stints with the Rams (Fisher!) and the Jags.

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13TimeChamps's picture

August 15, 2020 at 05:15 pm

How many times has he lost his job as a starting QB in the league? Once to Gardner Minshew. Since that 27 TD/2 INT season, he has thrown 38 TDs and 26 INTs. He has a career QB rating of 88.2.

While giving him his due for that 2013 season, he has done very little as a starting QB. He caught lightning in a bottle twice in his career. His 2013 season, and his 5 game stint with Philly in 2018. Other than that, he's been a model of inconsistency, which is demonstrated by his QB ratings over the years: 79.1/119.2/81.4/69.0/105.9/79.5/96.0/84.6. They're all over the place.

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splitpea1's picture

August 15, 2020 at 06:11 pm

Like I said, I wouldn't put too much weight on his stints with the Rams and the Jags. Rating-wise, no QB usually thrives in the Fisher offense, and as for the Jags, who knows what's going on down there? The other low ratings: in 2012, he was a rookie, and in 2017, only three games, so that's a limited sample size. The Eagles were certainly glad to have him back for the end of that season and the ensuing playoff run.

I hope you didn't get the idea that I was comparing Foles to Rodgers, anyway.

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13TimeChamps's picture

August 15, 2020 at 06:23 pm

"I hope you didn't get the idea that I was comparing Foles to Rodgers, anyway."

Not at all. I was just pointing out his career has been very spotty, to say the least. He doesn't seem to have an 'in between'. He's either lights out, as in 2013 and for a short stint in 2018, or he's, to be kind, mediocre.

It'll be interesting to see what he does in Chicago.

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 07:46 pm

Agreed. Inconsistency has been part of his career. That's why he never quite established himself as a starter.

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Stroh's picture

August 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Maybe you should put MORE weight on them! Foles has shown his entire career he can be good for a short time, then regresses to what he is. Below average! He got a full season in early in his career where he looked really good, since then when he becomes the starter he's good for a few games then teams figure him out. Each time it happens quicker than the last. He's a below average QB by any definition!

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 07:47 pm

He's definitely had his moments, of course that includes the SB run. He's a good QB, but as you said in a later comment, he's not Aaron Rodgers. Thanks for the comment, splitpea1.

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 07:43 pm

Exactly my points, 13TimeChamps. Now part of that is the lack of talent Stafford has had around him, but overall, nobody in the division beats Rodgers. Thanks for commenting.

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Stroh's picture

August 15, 2020 at 04:42 pm

One of the better articles on the site in awhile. The Packers are always doing their best to make sure they have difference makers at important (premium positions). Those positions are at the root of the draft philosophy as well. In the top rounds they are always looking for players at the premium positions (QB, OT, CB and Pass Rush either OLB or DL), before other postions. That explains the drafting of Love and Gary the past 2 seasons, even if they have players at or near the top of the league at those positions already. You don't draft for NEED (like WR this year) in rd 1. You draft players at premium positions that are at the same talent level.

Now if people would just remember this when draft time comes in '21!

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GilMartin's picture

August 15, 2020 at 07:45 pm

Thanks for the kind words. Copy and paste this comment and repost it in April. I'm sure it will come in handy. Thanks as always for commenting, Stroh.

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Stroh's picture

August 16, 2020 at 12:37 pm

I've been posting versions of this comment for almost a decade now! Sadly it doesn't help and falls on deaf ears! Or is it deaf brains?

Apparently you haven't been paying attention either. Look at the history since Wolf took over and then while Thompson and now Gutey have been GM! Really go look and actually study it.

He traded a 1st for Favre and drafted Buckley in yr 1 (QB and CB both pemium positons). He took 3 OT (2 became outstanding OG but they were college OT, the other Jon Michels was a complete bust). The only real outliers were Wayne Simmons who was an absolute Beast as 43 OLB and Bubba Franks (who he then backed up by taking Chad Clifton in rd 2).

You can make a case that both Simmons and Franks were at the time clearly more talented than the other players left. If you leave out hindsight.

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