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Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling Getting Buzz At Packers Camp

The Green Bay Packers are coming off of an interesting 2019 season. Despite having a rookie head coach, the Packers recorded a 13-3 record and made it to the NFC Championship game. While fans are convinced they are heading in the right direction, critics claim Aaron Rodgers and Co. benefited from an easy schedule — even in the postseason. It’s a fair point, considering how Green Bay won just four of its 13 games by double digits and had to face the Kansas City Chiefs without Patrick Mahomes. They even got the benefit of playing a banged-up Seattle Seahawks squad in the NFL divisional round once the playoffs rolled around. Even if you thought all the breaks went their way in 2019, there’s no doubt that the Packers possess enough talent on both sides of the ball to get back to the conference championship game in 2020. 

LaFleur became the first head coach to win his first game against the Chicago Bears since Vince Lombardi did so in 1959, and also became the first rookie head coach with the Packers to win double-digit games, make the playoffs and win the NFC North. He appears to be a young coach on the rise in this league, and has plenty of playmakers to work with as well. Running back Aaron Jones racked up over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns — which tied for the league lead in combined rushing and receiving touchdowns — and free-agent additions Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith both carried the defense with 25.5 combined sacks. Can we expect this team to record another double-digit win season? Should they be expected to repeat as NFC North champions?

Below, we will examine three bold Packers predictions for the 2020 season. I believe this team is for real and the NFL world will finally realize it by the end of this year. 

Let’s start with a hot take, the Packers need to give Antonio Brown a shot. Green Bay decided to take a flier on a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and then followed up that pick with another position they didn’t need — taking running back AJ Dillon out of Boston College. I believe both Jordan Love and Dillon can be good NFL players, it’s just confusing as to why the Packers didn’t take a wideout with one of those first picks. What’s even more head-scratching is that Green Bay failed to draft a single wide receiver in what appeared to be one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory. The Packers still have a chance to make it up by signing Brown.

Personally, I truly do like Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, but let’s not act like they have the potential to be as explosive as someone like Antonio Brown. In his one game with the New England Patriots last year, he caught four passes for 56 yards and one touchdown. Yes, he is suspended for the first eight games of the 2020 season, but teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Seahawks have been keeping tabs on his situation, so maybe the Packers shouldn’t wait until the middle of the year to find out they aren’t satisfied with the receivers they have other than Davante Adams, because Brown may not be available. Why not just make the move now and give Rodgers another Pro Bowl target that could help this team not get blown out in the NFC championship game. 

The former Maryland defensive back was one of the fastest-rising prospects we saw entering the week of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the Packers selected him with the No. 21 overall pick. Savage appeared in 14 regular-season games and recorded 55 total tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed. He stepped right into the starting lineup and immediately proved that he was a defensive playmaker. Savage flies to the ball faster than any other defender on seemingly every play. He’s also intuitive in coverage and more than willing to help in run support. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Savage allowed a reception every 33.3 coverage snaps last season — which was the lowest rate for Green Bay. He’s a rising star in this league, and I expect him to make his first Pro Bowl appearance this year. The pass rush the Smith brothers provide coupled with his talented teammates in the secondary — I really do believe you’re going to see Savage make a big jump in Year 2. 

3. Packers go 11-5, repeat as NFC North champions

Earlier this offseason, I predicted all 16 games on the Packers’ 2020 schedule. I think we all can agree that Green Bay’s docket is a bit tougher this season, so an 11-5 record would be a huge success. If you think this win total prediction is high, you are not alone. Sure, I guess you could say I’m higher on the Packers than Vegas or other NFC North fans are, but if this team can remain healthy, build on what they accomplished last year and find success with Brown, they should be right back in the postseason. With nine wins being the over/under, I’m going to go ahead and take the over. The Packers went undefeated in the NFC North last season, and I believe they go 5-1 in 2020 — which is still good enough for a division title. LaFleur will again be in the running for AP NFL Coach of the Year — and I think he has a good chance of winning it as well.

Naturally, you are all probably wondering how far I have the Packers going in the postseason. Unfortunately, I have gone on record saying that the New Orleans Saints will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl next year. Plus, you can never rule out the San Francisco 49ers, who figure to be just as good this year. Green Bay will make it to the postseason, but I’m not brave enough to predict they will return to the NFC championship game. 


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