There are several 2016 Super Bowl contenders that haven’t looked quite so “super” through the new NFL season’s first two weeks. The Arizona Cardinals lost in week one at home, the Carolina Panthers fell in their debut to the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks just lost to the Los Angeles Rams.
While any of those teams could suddenly be looked at as poor bets to win this year’s Super Bowl, it’s actually the 1-1 Green Bay Packers are may be the team to start to stray from when it comes to Super Bowl betting.
Green Bay was actually decent in a solid road win against the Jaguars in week one, but through the first two weeks, they’ve largely looked like the team we saw in 2015. Even with Jordy Nelson back from a torn ACL, the Packers still have a plethora of question marks for a team that on many betting websites was the team to beat when it came to Super Bowl odds.
So, why should we be looking elsewhere when it comes to Super Bowl betting? Let us count the ways:
Green Bay’s O-Line is Shaky
The Packers cut stud guard Josh Sitton before the season started and it’s starting to feel like a mistake. Green Bay’s offensive line hasn’t been atrocious in two games, but it certainly could be better – both in blocking up front to open up running lanes for the ground game and keeping quarterback Aaron Rodgers protected.
Rodgers specifically had no time to think in week two, where he was pressured for much of the night and took five sacks. That pressure led to three fumbles (one lost) and killed a big drive late in the game. Much of that could be credit to a very good Minnesota defense in a tough road game, but there’s no excuse. Rodgers needs more time to operate and he isn’t getting it.
Aaron Rodgers Doesn’t Have It
Or is he? One massive aspect to Green Bay’s early struggles could be Rodgers’ tendency to hold onto the ball too long while he’s (likely) seeking out a big play. Rodgers would be far better off simply taking what the defense gives him, but he is seemingly addicted to freelancing and chasing plays that could yield bigger chunks of yardage.
Whatever the reasoning may be, Rodgers really hasn’t been the same elite passer for over a year now. The offensive line can certainly shoulder some of that blame, as can the disappearance of a once proud running game. The loss of Jordy Nelson (torn ACL) last year also didn’t help.
All that aside, Rodgers is holding on the ball too long, taking sacks and missing plays. It’s fair to wonder if he even has a true deep threat on this team anymore or if his receivers are effectively getting open, but if it’s not on them, then he’s failing to get the job done.
Jordy Isn’t Jordy
It’s possible Rodgers was bad in 2015 and is struggling to start 2016 because Jordy Nelson was gone and still isn’t back. Nelson is back on the field in physical form, but he didn’t do much in the way of creation or separation in week one (just 37 yards on six grabs) and in week two only had one big catch down the field.
Perhaps this isn’t a death sentence and Nelson is slowly making his way back to top form. That could very well be the case, but to this point, this is not the Jordy Nelson we know. The Nelson we know has speed for days, wins jump balls and knows how to shake even the best of corners and safeties.
In week two, Nelson was covered by a 38-year old Terrance Newman and a young, mistake-prone Trae Waynes. Despite that, he really only had two good-to-great plays on the night. We could chalk it up as a mulligan and give Nelson a break’ after all, he’s only been back from a serious knee injury for two weeks.
That’s fair. But so far, he isn’t the same guy, and it’s troubling to think that might not change.
Eddie Lacy Isn’t a Changed Man
There were reports swirling all summer that star running back Eddie Lacy had trimmed down, gotten ripped and was ready for a massive season. If that was the case, something clearly changed in the past month or so, because the results just aren’t there.
Lacy still has some solid power running ability, but he hasn’t taken over as a dominant presence to start the year, while Green Bay’s offense has inexplicably gone away from him and the running game in general too often. Perhaps that’s on Mike McCarthy (who we’ll get to, as well), but for whatever reason, Lacy hasn’t been the mashing presence we all expected him to be.
Green Bay’s passing game is just not very good right now. Whether it’s because they’re trying too hard or a strong running game isn’t there yet to help balance things out is unclear. For now, all we know is that Lacy has just 111 rushing yards through two games and the Packers are 1-1.
Green Bay’s Defense Has Holes
Green Bay’s defense was actually a strong point at times through the first two weeks. They have done a fantastic job at stuffing the run and putting pressure on the quarterback, while when healthy they also might have the talent to defend the pass.
However, as they stand, the Packers have been brutal on third downs and have not fared well through the air. An injured Sam Shields doesn’t help matters, but this secondary just hasn’t gotten it done through the first two games and will need to be markedly better for this defense to be a feared unit going forward.
Mike McCarthy is Still Too Erratic
This actually might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Many will remember how McCarthy basically gave away Green Bay’s NFC title game loss to the Seattle Seahawks two years ago, when he held a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter and decided to sit on the ball, rather than keep scoring to make sure Seattle would stay down for good.
That cost the Packers a trip to the Super Bowl and really throughout his tenure in Green Bay, we’ve seen a lot of questionable decision-making.
We saw it right away from two different vantage points in the first two weeks. In week one, the Packers had first and goal inside the 10 late in a 24-20 game in Jacksonville. McCarthy opted to run into the pile three straight plays and ended up kicking a field goal. The Jaguars ultimately sputtered late in a 27-23 loss, but McCarthy still set his team up for a situation they should have probably never been in.
The situation was reversed in week two against the Vikings. Instead of being his usual conservative self, McCarthy opted to bypass a field goal and a 10-10 tie in a defensive battle and went for it on fourth down in Minnesota territory.
In a game where Green Bay’s offense was garbage, McCarthy should have taken the points and lived to fight another day. Instead, Green Bay gave the ball up, went down 17-7 and never fully recovered.
It’s these inconsistencies and bad decisions that doom the Packers time and time again. If it’s not the lack of a deep ball, a shaky o-line, inconsistent running back, a swiss cheese defense or Rodgers holding onto the ball too long, it’s McCarthy’s indecision and poor moves that doom the Packers.
Ultimately, this just isn’t the makings of a title contender. In fact, the Packers may have proven in week two that they aren’t even the best team inside their own division. Needless to say, as promising as things felt initially for the Packers, a lot has to change and improve to think of this team as the Super Bowl favorite. With that unlikely to happen, it’s probably best for you to concentrate your 2016 Super Bowl betting elsewhere.
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