The upcoming 2016 NFL Season will be the 6th year since the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 35-21 in Super Bowl XLV (45) to win the franchises’ 4th Super Bowl. With five consecutive playoff berths and 4 NFC North titles since The Packs’ most recent super bowl victory, one has to start to wonder if it is super bowl or bust for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. I think it is and I’ll tell you why…..
Before I begin, let me tell you that I totally understand that the ultimate goal for all 32 NFL teams every year is to win the Super Bowl, so you could say “Duh, Steve. You’re an idiot, it is Super Bowl or bust for every team every year, It’s the only objective of professional sports.” Trust me, I get that. Let’s be real here, the Super Bowl is every team’s goal every year, but we all know that there isn’t expectations for the Jaguars, Browns, Titans, etc. to win the big one this year. So, let me tell you why I think the expectations are higher than ever for the Pack to bring home the Lombardi trophy this year.
As I stated in the opening the Packers have had a 5 year run that many teams would kill to have, but even after the 5 straight playoff berths, 4 NFC North titles, and a 56-23-1 combined regular season record over the last 5 years, Green Bay only has 3 combined playoff wins, and only 1 trip to the NFC Championship game where they lost to the Seattle Seahawks 28-22 in OT in one of the biggest football collapses of all time to suddenly end their 2014 season. This is a game that I am still pissed off about and will probably never completely get over. To rub salt in the wound I finally started to feel like the tide was turning during the Packers 2015 playoff run when Aaron Rodgers landed an incredible Hail Mary to Jeff Janis to force OT against the Arizona Cardinals, only to have my beating heart ripped out of my chest by future Hall of Fame member Larry Fitzgerald.
With the playoff woes of the last 5 seasons the time is now in Green Bay and the clock is ticking. Here are my 3 reasons (one for every playoff win over the last 5 years) why it’s Super Bowl or bust in titletown U.S.A.
One. Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger!
Aaron Rodgers born December 2nd, 1983 will turn 33 two days prior to Green Bay’s week 13 matchup at home against the Houston Texans. I know what you are thinking, “Big deal Steve, he’s going to be 33, he’s not a Running back. Peyton Manning just won a Super Bowl at the age of 39 after 18 seasons for Christ’s Sake!” I get it, but here’s why it is a big deal.
It pains me to say this, but Aaron isn’t Peyton. Aaron plays a different game. He moves more, his athleticism is a huge part of his game. Did you see what happened to Peyton when his offensive line started breaking down and he was taking all that abuse? He wasn’t the same Peyton. Aaron’s game has him take that similar type of abuse game in and game out, because he doesn’t just sit in the pocket, he moves. Now, Aaron did sit behind the Iron God of football in his first few years in the NFL, so I am confident that Brett Favre taught him a thing or two about longevity. From Super Bowl 25 to now the average age of the super bowl winning QB is 30.68 years. Aaron is over that mark and not getting younger!
Two. Jordy is back and the offense is loaded!!
Jordy Nelson is back, that has to increase expectations on its own. Not to mention the addition of an actual pass catching tight end in Jared Cook along with another off-season of experience for our young WRs. In the divisional round of the playoffs against Arizona Aaron was able to go 24/44 for 261, 2 td’s, and 1 pick with his top 3 targets being Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis, and Richard Rogers. Jeff and Jared caught a combined 11 passes in the regular season. Imagine how much more explosive this offense can be when those 3 are replaced with Nelson, Cobb, and Cook? Then to sub in you have a stock of WR’s in the aforementioned Janis, Abbrederis, along with Adams, Montgomery, and the rookie speedster Trevor Davis out of California, who clocked an impressive 4.41 in the 40 yard dash. Oh, you think you’ll just double Jordy? Well, now you take a defender away and the entire middle of the field is open for Cook and Cobb, plus you’ll have a thinned out, lean mean running machine with something to prove in Eddie Lacy. Eddie Lacy has been putting the time in this off-season, he was working out with the founder of p90x and has dropped a reported 20 pounds. It feels like it is super bowl or bust for this potentially unstoppable offense.
Three. Julius Peppers is dying for a ring and he deserves it!!
Julius Peppers will turn 37 in the middle of the 2016 season’s playoffs and is entering the 15th season of his great NFL career. Peppers is in the twilight of his career and as he still produces on the field, nobody knows how much longer he’s going to keep playing this game. Peppers had a great season last year with 10 1/2 sacks, but with Matthews possibly going back to the OLB position nobody knows if Peppers will be getting the snaps this year, that he had last year. I certainly hope he does. Julius has been one of my favorite players ever since he was throwing down alley oops at UNC as a Tar Heel. I was ecstatic when the Pack was able to take him away from the rival Bears in free agency prior to the 2014 season. Peppers hasn’t seen a Super Bowl field ever since his Carolina Panthers fell short to the Patriots 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII. You know he wants a ring and the Packers want to give it to him.
If you made it all the way through this article, thank you for taking the time to read my first ever sports blog post. Stay tuned for future posts and thanks for reading “The Press Conference with Steve”. I’d appreciate all feedback both positive and negative. Feel free to comment any suggestions that you’d like to hear my angle out. Steve out.