The Green Bay Packers have weathered an early storm of controversy, bad luck, and injuries to post a 6-3 record. The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Packers – even though we only have 7 games left, it’s a tough road ahead.
That road ends at New Orleans on the third of February 2013 for Super Bowl XLVII.
In order for the Packers to complete that journey they are going to need these 10 players to stay healthy and productive. They are ranked below in order of value.
10. A.J Hawk
I used to think A.J Hawk was overpaid, overrated, and on his way out of Green Bay. Now I view him as the most valuable linebacker not named Clay Matthews. Why the change? Because he’s played better. His tackling is better, he’s more impactful, and he’s reliable. Coach McCarthy has said Hawk is always the same guy every day. In the past that has usually been a bad thing, not this year.
9. T.J Lang
Lang has always been pretty solid. He is willing to battle with anyone, and is among the most efficient statistically of all the Packers lineman. However his true value lies in his versitility to move around the offensive line. The news coming out of Green Bay is that Bulaga’s injury is more serious than expected. This does nothing but make Lang even more valuable
8. Jordy Nelson
Jordy had taken the place of Greg Jennings in the offense. It took a little time but he has definitely hit his stride. He now looks like a legitimate go-to receiver. Also, as we have witnessed lately there is a noticeable drop off in the offense when he is not playing.
7. Tramon Williams
Tramon has been a little up and down this year. That being said, he is still our best cover corner. He is very effective at times and has a knack for the big play. He is by no means a shutdown corner the likes of “Revis Isle,” but he is a former Pro Bowler cornerback and they do not grow on trees.
6. Charles Woodson
He is no longer playing at the elite level that he once was, but make no mistake, he is still very valuable. He is effective in so many different ways and is on the field more than any other player. He is also the leader of the defense, and a great communicator to the other young members of the secondary.
5. B.J Raji
B.J Raji is our best defensive lineman. He gets a great push in the pocket and is great against the run. He is the perfect 3-4 tackle and is exactly what Thompson thought he was when he drafted him in the first round. The Packers defense played well without him for a two-game period, over the long haul I am not so sure the results would be as inspiring
4. Randall Cobb
Randall is our most explosive receiver, who can do it all and is only going to get better. He leads the Packers in receptions (45), yards after the catch (250) and plays over 20 yards (9). Combine this with the fact he is a great returner and that makes him a very valuable weapon in the Packers offense and special teams.
3. Marshall Newhouse
Marshall has shown steady improvement since he has been a starter. That being said, he is still probably just a slightly-above-average tackle in the NFL. However he protects “the blindside” and the options behind him are far worse… If he goes down (and with Bulaga already out) they would have to turn to undrafted rookie Don Barclay. This, at best, is not ideal, and at worst … catastrophic
2. Clay Matthews
He is the best overall defensive player in the NFL. He is great in coverage, against the run and rushing the passer. The only thing that exceeds his talent is his motor. He never quits and leaves everything on the field. A long-term injury to the Claymaker would result in a huge drop-off to an already inconsistent defense.
1. Aaron Rodgers
He is former Super Bowl MVP, reigning NFL MVP, near the top of the NFL in every major statistical category and could still possibly get better. If that doesn’t sell you, how about the fact that his backup is Graham Harrell? It’s safe to say the 2012 Green Bay Packers will only go as far as #12 takes them.