While I may have already crossed the line with Jets fans by predicting them as the worst team of the upcoming decade, it's time to visit the other end of the spectrum and pick the team that has the best shot of consistent success in the 2010s.
That team, though a controversial choice by many, is the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers, while inconsistent the last 2 seasons, have proven that they can put behind the era of Brett Favre and begin a new period of time. They have already experienced a dynasty during the 1960s, winning 5 NFL Championship games and 2 Super Bowls during that period of time.
This Packers team has the consistency and the playmakers to become one of the best teams of the next 10 years:
- Aaron Rodgers was relatively unknown during the period of time where he rested behind Brett Favre from 2005-07. Then, after Favre "retired", Rodgers got his chance and made the most of it, throwing for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2008.
Rodgers improved tremendously in his 2009 campaign, throwing for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns and leading the Pack to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. He also did this while only throwing 7 interceptions and achieved a QB rating of over 100 while establishing himself as a top 5 quarterback.
- While mostly forgotten or overshadowed by his teammates, Ryan Grant has produced like a first-round draft pick, even though he was not drafted himself. After signing with the Packers in 2007, he made the most of his opportunity, rushing for almost 1,000 yards despite only starting 7 games.
He has rushed for over 1,200 yards in both of the previous 2 seasons and looks to make a name for himself as a fantasy draft steal this year. Once his reputation is reestablished, he will become one of the top backs in the league, even if only for a short period of time.
- The Packers have even more playmakers on offense with wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. While Jennings is just about to his his prime, Driver is getting older, and at age 35, and he will most likely retire within the next 2-3 years.
However, the Packers have young, up-and-coming receivers in James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Both produced well during their rookie years and look to produce more now since Driver's production will most likely decrease this season. This could pave the way for a trio of receivers that will dominate secondaries time after time during the 2010s.
- JerMichael Finley started to come on as a tight end last year, and his production increased with the absence of Donald Lee. He established himself as a tight end with a high vertical, proven by his catches in a game against the Steelers. Look for Finley's role in the offense to increase during the 2010 season.
- The Packers have the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson, and he looks to return to shape quickly in 2010. While Woodson will most likely retire around 2013 or 2014, the Packers also have Atari Bigby, the 5-year safety out of UCF.
- Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is known for his success in the NFL, as he established the most innovative defensive technique in zone blitz during his tenure with the Steelers. When he became head coach of the expansion Carolina Panthers, he led them to 7 wins in their first season, the most by any expansion team.
During his second season, the Panthers were 12-4 and had the #1 ranked defense in the league while advancing to the NFC Championship game. Capers plans to establish a 3-4 defense in Green Bay, and if this works, the results could be great for a team that was loolking to improve its defense vastly just 2 years ago
- Clay Matthews III had an unexpected breakout rookie year where he led the team in tackles and recorded 10 sacks en route to a Pro Bowl berth. Matthews looks to become one of the most consistent linebackers in the league like Brian Urlacher, and he looks to make a name for himself next season as well.
- The Packers had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2008, but they looked to fix this problem with the selection of B.J. Raji, nose tackle out of Boston College. Raji only started one game but produced well during his limited playing time, recording 25 tackles and a sack
- Finally, Mason Crosby, known as the best collegiate kicker during the 2000s, has established himself as a good kicker in the NFL by making clutch kicks when he needs to every once in a while and having a field goal percentage of around 80% in all 3 of his seasons as place kicker.
So there you have it. The Green Bay Packers will return to their winning tradition of the 1960s and establish themselves as the top team of the 2010s. They were up there in the 90s, fell off in the 2000s, and will most likely return to stay on top for a while in the 2010s.
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