Michael Brockers, Ndamukong Suh, and the best player in the NFL Aaron Donald make for an outstanding defensive line in Los Angeles. The Patriots are far less impressive, as Malcom Brown, Danny Shelton, and Lawrence Guy (remember him?) comprise a good but not great unit.
Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels are a formidable pair inside for the Packers. Green Bay could use more depth and a more explosive pass-rusher, but so could nearly every team. They’re better than the Patriots here, but Aaron Donald means that they’re nowhere close to the Rams.
Like tight end, inside linebacker is a nut that the Packers have had trouble cracking. Blake Martinez is good but not great, and Jake Ryan is also not much above average. The hope is that Oren Burks can become a starter sooner than later and give the Packers the type of player that the Rams have in Barron.
Both the Rams and the Patriots comfortably top the Packers here.
The Rams’ most highly touted edge rusher is Dante Fowler, who recorded just two sacks all season. For the Patriots, defensive end Trey Flowers led the entire team with sacks with 7.5, while Adrian Clayborn notched just 2.5.
Kyler Fackrell is the Packers’ best edge rusher right now, and there will be precious little depth if/when Clay Matthews and/or Nick Perry leave town. This is a severely lacking position, but surprisingly enough, the Rams and Patriots don’t really have significantly better players here.
Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty are an outstanding pair of corners for the Patriots, and Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are a very good pair of safeties. The Rams aren’t quite at the Patriots level, as their defensive backs—including Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Sam Shields, and Lamarcus Joyner—are extremely talented but quite inconsistent.
The Packers can’t compare to the Patriots right now, and they don’t have the star power of the Rams.
But with Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Bashaud Breeland, and Tony Brown all likely to return in 2019, there’s plenty of room for hope at the cornerback position. The safety position is far bleaker. That, combined with the cornerbacks’ inexperience, means the Packers are several steps below the Patriots and at least one step below the Rams here.
Most rankings have the Rams and the Patriots in the average to good range of the league here, with the Packers close to the bottom. They had awful special teams in 2018, and Matt LaFleur needs to make it a priority in 2019. The Packers are significantly worse than the Super Bowl contestants here.
These are of course subjective, but I come away thinking that the Packers are inferior to both Super Bowl contestants in the following areas—tight ends, offensive line, inside linebacker, defense backs, and special teams.
Quarterback is perhaps the only position with a compelling argument for saying the Packers are better than both teams, but Aaron Rodgers certainly has some things to prove in 2019 before we can say that.
The team is clearly less talented than the Super Bowl contestants. But they contended with both teams this year, and things change quickly in the NFL. If Brian Gutekunst puts together an aggressive offseason and Matt LaFleur proves himself capable, there’s no reason the Packers can’t be in the mix for Super Bowl LIV next year.