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Pete Dougherty

Packers record: 12-4

The Packers are in great position to win their fourth straight NFC North Division title and have the makings of their strongest team since 2011. They have the division's best quarterback (Aaron Rodgers), a top-10 running back (Eddie Lacy) and, unless injury disaster strikes, they should at minimum be better on defense than last season because of upgrades at safety (Micah Hyde and/or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and outside linebacker (Julius Peppers). No one else in the division looks ready to make a big jump: Chicago's best players on defense (Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, both 33) are getting old; Detroit has impressive offensive talent but also has a new coaching staff; and Minnesota, though improving its talent base, still isn't good enough at quarterback to make a big jump from 5-11. A deep playoff run depends largely on how much Peppers improves their pass rush. If he's still a difference maker at 34 — that's a big if — the Packers' chances should be as good as anybody's.

Playoffs

NFC East: Philadelphia

NFC South: New Orleans

NFC North: Green Bay

NFC West: Seattle

Wild cards: San Francisco, Atlanta

AFC East: New England

AFC South: Indianapolis

AFC North: Cincinnati

AFC West: Denver

Wild cards: New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens

NFC championship: New Orleans over Seattle

AFC championship: Cincinnati over Indianapolis

Super Bowl: New Orleans over Cincinnati

Weston Hodkiewicz

Packers record: 11-5

The Packers cut it with the nickel-and-dime approach to their backfield and unearthed NFL offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy. With James Starks and DuJuan Harris back, the Packers finally can say they have a running game worthy of a defense's attention. If Aaron Rodgers and Lacy can stay on the field, this year's offense has the potential to outdo the record-breaking 2011 squad. Defensively, they've made much-needed wholesale changes. After years of striking out on pass rushers in the draft, they invested into the aging, but proven Julius Peppers to rush opposite Clay Matthews. Their defensive linemen are smaller, but more athletic, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Micah Hyde are premium upgrades in the remade back end of the secondary. Even without Rodgers for seven games, the NFC North still belonged to the Packers. If their health holds — which is a big if — the potential is there for Green Bay to make the lengthy playoff run its fan base has been calling for since Super Bowl XLV.

Playoffs

NFC East: Philadelphia

NFC South: New Orleans

NFC North: Green Bay

NFC West: Seattle

Wild cards: Arizona, San Francisco

AFC East: New York Jets

AFC South: Indianapolis

AFC North: Cincinnati

AFC West: Denver

Wild cards: New England, Pittsburgh

NFC championship: Seattle over Green Bay

AFC championship: Denver over Indianapolis

Super Bowl: Denver over Seattle

Ryan Wood

Packers record: 13-3

It won't be easy. The schedule makers could have been kinder to the Packers in September. Instead, they sent Green Bay on the road for three of its opening four games, with trips to Seattle (defending Super Bowl champs), Chicago and Detroit (divisional rivals). That's a brutal stretch, and the Packers could take their lumps early. It's not out of the question for Green Bay to start the season with a 2-2 record, but things should start to smooth out once October comes. The Packers should have one of the best offenses in the NFL, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Eddie Lacy forming the league's best backfield. Green Bay likely will be much better defensively after answering questions at safety and outside linebacker during the offseason. It will take early resolve, but the Packers should win their fourth straight NFC North title this season. The perseverance it takes to weather September will pay dividends come January, leading the way to a long playoff run.

Playoffs

NFC East — Philadelphia

NFC South — New Orleans

NFC North — Green Bay

NFC West — Seattle

Wild cards — San Francisco, New York Giants

AFC East — New England

AFC South — Indianapolis

AFC North — Cincinnati

AFC West — Denver

Wild cards — Pittsburgh, San Diego

NFC championship: Green Bay over New Orleans

AFC championship: Denver over New England

Super Bowl: Denver over Green Bay

Robert Zizzo

Packers record: 11-5

Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy played together in barely 25 of the 64 regular-season quarters last season. And the Packers still won the NFC North Division. Imagine a full season of making opposing defenses pick their poison. Add a defense that appears improved, especially against the pass (Julius Peppers and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are significant upgrades from Mike Neal/Nick Perry and M.D. Jennings), and Green Bay will win a fourth straight division title. The Bears will be as good or better than last season, but Jay Cutler's low ceiling will prevent enough improvement to overtake the Packers. The Lions are the Lions, which means they'll find a way to play below their potential, and the Vikings are still a team in transition. The Packers will show their biggest improvement in the playoffs, where they will finally advance out of the divisional round and play for a chance at the Super Bowl. But a still-rising Seattle team will hold home-field advantage and eliminate Green Bay on the same field they'll open the NFL season Thursday night.

Playoffs

NFC East: Philadelphia

NFC South: New Orleans

NFC North: Green Bay

NFC West: Seattle

Wild cards: Chicago, Arizona

AFC East: New England

AFC South: Indianapolis

AFC North: Pittsburgh

AFC West: Denver

Wild cards: Cincinnati, San Diego

NFC championship: Seattle over Green Bay

AFC championship: New England over Denver

Super Bowl: Seattle over New England

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