NFL Predictions: Ranking the Packers’ Best and Worst-Case 2023 Season Scenarios

    Making predictions for the Green Bay Packers' 2023 NFL season? Start here with the best and worst-case season scenarios for the Packers.

    The Green Bay Packers have had one of the most meteoric offseasons any NFL team has had over the past few years, trading their Hall of Fame-level quarterback for a relatively small return and putting the franchise in the hands of a young, unproven QB. This reality makes it difficult to make NFL predictions for a team like Green Bay or a division like the NFC North.

    All the while, the Packers kept the defensive coordinator responsible for their consistent defensive underperformance. There’s a lot on the line for Green Bay and relatively little known about the direction of the franchise. It could be the first time we truly test head coach Matt LaFleur and his ability to guide a team without an elite quarterback. With long Super Bowl odds, it seems as if there’s not much reason to trust the team — but that could all change if Green Bay sees their best-case scenarios come to fruition.

    Predicting the Best-Case Scenario for the Green Bay Packers’ 2023 Season

    For the Packers, the best-case scenario would require Jordan Love to take the leap that Aaron Rodgers did coming off the bench to replace Brett Favre. It may seem like a far-fetched scenario, but it’s happened before. While Tim Boyle isn’t the strongest competition, it helps that Boyle outcompeted Love at first before the latter took the role back.

    It’s not as if Love is an unknown, he was a first-round pick with mobility and a strong arm. If his time on the bench really did provide him with the training he needed to be everything a quarterback has to have between the ears, then he could be extremely effective. With a receiving corps full of promise — one that already had Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs before adding Luke Musgrave, Jayden Reed, Tucker Kraft, Dontayvion Wicks, and Grant DuBose.

    While all those players — excluding Watson — aren’t guaranteed to play well, there’s a good chance that at least one of them emerges as a strong No. 2. In the best-case scenario, two or three players might demonstrate that kind of talent early on. With that strong offensive line and RB corps, the Packers might play their way into having a top-10 offense right away.

    MORE: 2024 FREE NFL Mock Draft Simulator (With Trades)

    The defense is another matter. They have all kinds of talent, but it’s been difficult to bring all of it together to make a coherent defense — a problem with Dom Capers, Mike Pettine, and Joe Barry. But in the ideal scenario, Barry figures out how to make high-level talent in the secondary, like Jaire Alexander, mesh with players on the second level, such as De’Vondre Campbell, while maximizing the up-front players like Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark.

    Ideally, Devonte Wyatt takes on a bigger role, and Quay Walker improves at linebacker. Green Bay hopes to get a complete season from Eric Stokes at corner and get more out of Darnell Savage, who has shown flashes but has overall been an inconsistent player. There’s a good chance that Lukas Van Ness will need some time before he sees the field, but it very well could be the case that he plays well enough right away to take snaps from Preston Smith.

    Things Must Go Wrong for the Rest of the NFC North

    Altogether, that defense has the talent to be a top-10 unit, though in all likelihood, a reasonable “best case” scenario for the Packers involves that unit entering the top half. Either way, it could be enough to make Green Bay division champions.

    But that requires things to go south for their division rivals, which is entirely possible. The Lions have an inconsistent offense that relied too much on explosive runs, which is difficult to replicate without a running quarterback. Detroit’s also changed their offense by switching out one running back for another, and it’s a possibility that Jahmyr Gibbs is a downgrade versus D’Andre Swift.

    The Lions’ defense ranked 31st in the NFL in EPA per play last year. For all their upgrades — adding C.J. Gardner Johnson, Brian Branch, Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and Jack Campbell — Detroit could make missteps making sure that all those players play well together.

    Even if the Lions’ defense improves — almost a certainty, given who they added and the nature of regression on the defensive side of the ball — the offensive uncertainty and defensive weakness could combine to form a weak team.

    The Bears are just as reliant on Justin Fields to take a big leap as the Packers are with Love. Should the future track with history, Green Bay would get the development they need while Chicago would fall behind.

    nfl predictions
    Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) is short of a touchdown as he is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Quay Walker (7) in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, September 18, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

    The Bears’ defense added several players in free agency and the draft. However, they were the one defense to rank below the Lions last year. Adding players at low-value positions like linebacker may not be enough to push them over.

    The Vikings were close-game mavens in 2022, but that typically doesn’t translate from year to year. They’ve turned over a bad defense, but that’s no guarantee that adding new players will resolve the problem, especially after losing players like Za’Darius Smith and Eric Kendricks.

    MORE: Green Bay Packers Season Preview — Projected Depth Chart, Roster, and Predictions

    Relying on players without a strong history of play in the secondary could be disastrous. On offense, Minnesota’s move to emphasize the run could backfire, given how inefficient running typically is. And there’s no guarantee that a first-round wide receiver could immediately relieve pressure from Justin Jefferson.

    With all of that in play, the Packers would easily have a path to the playoffs, with the fringe scenario that they win multiple playoff games and spark a genuine chance at a Super Bowl.

    Predicting the Worst-Case Scenario for the Green Bay Packers’ 2023 Season

    In the worst-case scenario, Green Bay would see Love disappoint while the skill corps — no matter how much the Packers have helped the odds with their acquisition strategy — fails to develop. Even if some of those picks turn out to be good picks, it may take a few years before they see a return on that investment.

    Not only that, the Packers’ offensive line, which historically has been an incredible strength of the unit, could fall apart. Green Bay has a number of young players on their line, and it’s possible that a late-round pick like Zach Tom doesn’t pan out in Year 2. At the same time, injuries could catch up to David Bakhtiari and leave Love unprotected. Injury or play under pressure could both bring down the level of play at quarterback.

    Defensively, the Packers’ worst-case scenario is, in reality, more of the same. Green Bay finished 2022 ranked 27th in EPA per play on defense. Alexander and Clark could continue playing at a high level, but it’s possible that Wyatt and Walker don’t figure it out, and the Packers continue to be plagued by inconsistency from the rest of their secondary.

    Van Ness is a prospect who never started in college, and it makes sense that it would take time for him to see the field. Preston Smith’s drop-off in play might make that a difficult situation. Leaving clean pockets for their opponent would create big problems.

    That’s especially the case if the Lions maintain their offensive performance while all of their defensive investments pay off. Historically, first-round linebackers and second-round safeties upgrade their defenses in Year 1. The history of play for their free agent signings is pretty strong as well.

    It would be surprising if Detroit’s defense didn’t take a big leap, especially if their rotation opposite Aidan Hutchinson produces a consistently effective pass rush.

    The Vikings could just as easily see their defensive turnover produce good results instead of further backsliding. Players like Marcus Davenport are typically smart investments: a good history of play when evaluating metrics like pass-rush win rate and pressure rate despite a low sack total.

    MORE: How the Packers’ Offensive Revamp Will Help Jordan Love

    If Minnesota gets something out of their young cornerbacks and generates a good pass rush, then they can do just enough to allow the offense to get things done. Jordan Addison may very well be another high-level receiver drafted in the 20s. — it wouldn’t be the first time for Minnesota.

    Lastly, Chicago didn’t allow their defense to remain as-is. They could have the best LB corps in the league, with emerging players throughout the secondary who could all add on to the flashes of solid play they demonstrated last year.

    On offense, it’s entirely possible that Fields becomes a threat. Aside from the fact that his running production gives Chicago’s offense a floor to operate from, Fields knows what he’s looking at and reads defenses well. He has a great arm and better accuracy than he’s given credit for. What holds Fields back as a passer, is either processing speed or an ability to immediately trust what he sees. That could be resolved with more instinctive play, which could lead him to taking the division by storm.

    With all of those factors combined, the Packers would find themselves picking early in the draft.

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