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So How Good Are The Packers, Really?

In the first preseason game, they blanked the Browns.  Yesterday, they beat the Bills in a game that was much further apart than the final score indicated (thanks to a fourth-quarter push by Buffalo's backups).  So far, the Aaron Rodgers looks fantastic, Ryan Grant looks healthy, the offensive line looks solid, and the defense is firing on all cylanders. 

But, it's only preseason.  I've already seen posts, both here and elsewhere, that are dropping Green Bay into the championship conversation.  In preseason, it's tough to tell who's a player in February and who's staying home after December.

That said, the Packers have looked really really really good thus far.  So, after only two preseason games against two of the NFL's weaker franchises, what can we expect from 2009?



We can expect Aaron Rodgers to tear the league up and rise to elite status.  In two games, he's 13/19 for 200 yards and 3 TD's, despite playing only a handful of series.  He's averaging over 10 yards per attempt, and his QB rating is 142.5.  Not bad.

At the same time, we can expect the entire receiving corps to continue dominating defensive long as a true #3 option steps up.  Jennings is Jennings, Driver is Driver, but Jordy Nelson has been quiet, and James Jones tweaked a hamstring.  If Nelson gets his act together and/or Jones stops getting hurt, the Packer passing attack will truly be scary. 

One major sleeper here is TE Jermichael Finley.  He had his troubles last year, but from what we've seen, he's a guy who can move in space and get the ball past defenders at will.  Look for him to be heavily involved, especially inside the opponent's 40-yard line.

We can expect Ryan Grant to bounce back from a terrible 2008.  He's not the physical freak that Adrian Peterson is, nor the jack-of-all-trades that Brian Westbrook is.  He is an explosive one-cut runner who can get yards in chunks when given an opening, a la Michael Turner or Frank Gore.  He might not be as good as any of the players named above, but he is certainly able to put up comparable stats and, more importantly, move the chains when the chains need moving.

We can expect B.J. Raji to give opposing quarterbacks fits because he flat out decimates offensive linemen.  One of the questions coming into Saturday's game was the debut of the first rounder from Boston College.  A Bills fan posted some questions on Brandon's preview, including this:

Is Geoff Hangartner, our newly-acquired center from Carolina, able to handle Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji at NT?; in other words is he capable of not getting pushed back into Trent Edwards all the time, unlike our previous starting centers, who were pathetic in that category.

So how did Hangarter fare against Raji?  Just watch this video.  I haven't seen a green jersey do that to an opposing player since Reggie White.

We can expect a lot of movement in the defensive front seven.  While that doesn't seem nearly as definitive as my other expectations, look at what that 3-4 defense has produced: 7 sacks, 6 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, and 21 points allowed over 2 games.  Sure, there's questions about A.J. Hawk being a bust, or Aaron Kampman not being a good fit at 3-4 OLB, or whether Jeremy Thompson and/or Clay Matthews will get healthy, or how well Nick Barnett will recover from surgery.  But the biggest question is already being answered.

That's what I've seen thus far.  What have you guys seen, and what haven't you seen yet?