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Packers Kick Off Season With Major Additions, Cuts

Return Of Jordy Nelson, Loss Of Josh Sitton Impacts Team

Green Bay Packers Fan
Mike Roemer/AP Photo

The Green Bay Packers regular season kicks off at noon Sunday as they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Florida, and many sports analysts are predicting a strong season for the green and gold.

In late August, ESPN declared the Packers were “favored to win every game” in the 2016 NFL season.

Analysts Nate Silver and Jay Boice with the website FiveThirtyEight predicted Wednesday the Packers will get at least 10 wins this season and have a 62 percent chance of making the playoffs.

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Between the talent and what some are calling an easy schedule, hopes are high for this season.

Green Bay Press Gazette Packers Columnist Pete Dougherty is predicting a big season for The Pack, too

“I wouldn’t be surprised if at least they make it at least to the NFC Championship,” Dougherty said. “They’ve been one of the league’s best teams going back to 2010 when they won the Super Bowl, even 2009 when they made it to the playoffs. Eighty percent of the reason is because they have (Aaron Rodgers), one of the best quarterbacks in league. (General Manager Ted) Thompson is good at keeping a talented roster.”

Eyes On Jordy

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Matt Ludtke/AP Photo

Plus, there’s the highly anticipated return of wide receiver Jordy Nelson — who has dealt with knee injuries on top of a torn ACL, which caused him to sit out the entire last season.

Dougherty said Nelson’s comeback will have a domino effect on the team.

“He makes a huge difference for (wide receiver) Randall Cobb,” said Dougherty. “Two years ago, Cobb had 91 catches. Last year, without Nelson occupying the defense, stretching defense, he was getting double covered more. Cobb’s (receiving) numbers went way down.”

But Dougherty said it’s unclear how good Nelson will be this season because the wide receiver only practiced the last two weeks of training camp.

Sitton Surprise

Former Green Bay Packers guard Josh Sitton. Jeffrey Phelps/AP Photo

Then there’s the Packers’ offensive line. Fans were shocked earlier this week when Thompson cut three-time Pro Bowler and guard Josh Sitton.

To Dougherty, the move came out of the blue.

“I’ve been covering the team since 1993. This is the most surprising move I can remember,” Dougherty said. “But after checking around the league, I understand why they did it. It’s (Vince)Lombardi-like. It’s (New England Patriots head coach Bill) Belichick-like in that those guys are always turning over a roster when guys start to show a decline.

It sends a message to the team that basically anyone and everyone is expendable, except Aaron Rodgers, so you have to be on your toes. They think they got rid of a guy who had become a problem in the locker room since he wanted a contract extension. Plus, the Packers were talking to younger guys, Sitton’s a 30 year-old guy.”

Sitton’s absence may affect the offensive line’s chemistry, since the group is tight on and off the field. The first month could be rough as Lane Taylor replaces Sitton, but eventually the linemen will move on, Dougherty said.

Taylor has been with the team since 2013.

The Green Bay Packers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game kicks off is noon Sunday, Sept. 11.