PFW's 2017 Preview: Green Bay Packers

Can reinforced offense for Rodgers, instant defensive contributions propel Packers?

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The 2017 Pro Football Weekly Season Preview magazine is on newsstands now and available online at ProFootballWeekly.com/magazine. In the magazine are the most comprehensive team previews that you’ll find anywhere, written by NFL writers around the country. Here’s a glimpse of our 2017 preview of the Green Bay Packers — team MVPs, position battles to watch and best- and worst-case scenarios, written by Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush). (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)

Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers — When he vowed the Packers, sitting at 4-6 and in third place in the division, would "run the table," Rodgers had only four passer ratings north of 100 over his previous 22 games. He was feeling phantom pressure, making poor decisions and missing open receivers while appearing mortal. Over his next nine games, Rodgers tossed 24 touchdowns, including the same number of Hail Marys (1) as interceptions. He regained precision, belief in his teammates and the mantle as the game's most ruthless assassin. At 33, the NFL's most gifted passer will finally have pressure taken off him with an increasingly power-based scheme unlocking the middle of the field. (Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com)

Defensive MVP: SS Morgan Burnett — The unit's tackling leader, Burnett's leadership, football IQ and physicality are major pluses; he stabilized the nickel 'backer spot late last season. He could be freed up to make more plays in that role if his eventual heir, second-rounder Josh Jones, catches on quickly. (Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com

Position battle to watch: No. 3 CB — Damarious Randall vs. Quinten Rollins vs. LaDarius Gunter — Cornerback issues were crippling, yet somewhat understandable after losing Sam Shields to a season-ending concussion in Week 1. Ted Thompson attacked the vulnerability aggressively, signing Davon House and drafting Kevin King No. 33 overall. That likely sets the stage for three third-year corners looking for rebounds to battle for the slot, with Randall, the converted collegiate safety with speed, sporadically special ball skills and a strong offseason under his belt, according to his coaches, to come out on top. (Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com)

Best-case scenario: Rodgers enjoys better balance and diversified weapons en route to his second MVP. The 'D' benefits from not only run-game improvements, but its own pleasant change: instant rookie help. While the Falcons and Cowboys regress, Green Bay's recent postseason heartbreak turns to Super Bowl euphoria. (H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com

Worst-case scenario: A defense that limped into last postseason isn't remedied with high draft picks. Any benefit Rodgers' offense was to receive from an unusually active offseason is offset by the immense defensive slack they're again required to carry. Unlike the Patriots, whose dominance continues, the NFL's only other eight year postseason streak is snapped. (Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com)

PFW prediction: 11-5, 1st place in NFC North, lose to Cowboys in NFC title game (H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)

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