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Season Preview: Green Bay Packers

Sports Mole previews the Green Bay Packers' chances in the upcoming 2013 NFL season.

The Green Bay Packers will go into the new NFL season hoping to improve upon their Divisional Playoff appearance last season.

The Packers finished top of the NFC North last season but missed out on a home tie in the Divisional Playoffs on the last day of the regular season.

They come into the 2013 season having lost Pro Bowler Jeff Saturday and long-serving Donald Driver to retirement, although they did manage to tie quarterback Aaron Rodgers down to a five-year contract that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

Head Coach: Mike McCarthy

Last Season: 11-5

Review: The Packers did not get off to the best start last season, losing their opening game against the 49ers having lost just one match throughout the entire 2011 regular season. They responded in their very next game, beating the Chicago Bears, but a surprise loss to the Seattle Seahawks followed as they continued their inconsistent start to the season.

A 27-30 loss at the Indianapolis Colts gave them a 2-3 record after five weeks, but the Packers started to find form in mid-season, winning five consecutive games throughout October and November. That run was halted by the New York Giants, who inflicted the Packers' heaviest defeat of the season with a 38-10 win.

Green Bay regained top spot in the NFC North with a win over the Minnesota Vikings a week later, kick-starting another good run of four straight victories. The regular season came to a disappointing end, however, as defeat to the Vikings in the final game ensured that they missed out on the number two overall seed in the NFC.

The Packers made short work of the Vikings in the NFC Wildcard Round, but met their match against the 49ers a week later, falling to a 45-31 defeat to end their season.

Notable Ins

Datone Jones: Jones was the Packers' first-round pick in this year's Draft. The defensive end recorded 148 tackles and 12.5 quarterback sacks during his college career at UCLA.

Eddie Lacy: The Packers' second-round pick was used on Lacy after the Alabama man finished last year with 1,322 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns. He was also named as the Offensive MVP for the BCS Championship game.

Notable Outs

Jeff Saturday: The six-time Pro Bowler called time on an illustrious career this summer having reached the Pro Bowl for one last time last season. He will be more fondly remembered for his time with the Indianapolis Colts, but he finished his career at the Packers.

Donald Driver: A retirement that will hit the Packers even harder will be that of Driver, who has left the game after a 13-year career with them. He posted more than 1,000 receiving yards in seven different seasons, including six in a row, while he only missed four games in his entire career.

Greg Jennings: Another influential wide receiver to make way is Greg Jennings, who picked up 425 receptions for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns during his six-year Packers career.

Key Player Offence: Aaron Rodgers

Key Player Defence: Clay Matthews

Rookie to watch: Datone Jones

Pre-season form: 1-3

Prediction: 12-4. Despite a shaky pre-season campaign, the Packers will go into the new season confident of once again reaching the playoffs. They should have enough about them to finish top of the NFC North, while how far they go beyond that depends on the draw. An appearance in the Super Bowl is not beyond the realms of possibility, but they would need an almighty effort to get there.

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Packers centre Jeff Saturday warms up before the game with Indianapolis on October 7, 2012
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