Packers Chasing Lions in NFC North Roster Rankings

Sports Illustrated ranked the rosters for every team in every division. Here’s what it had to say about the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers and Lions will battle for the NFC North.
The Packers and Lions will battle for the NFC North. / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Detroit Lions shocked the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 finale. They raced past the Packers to win the NFC North in 2023. And they continue to lead the pack heading into 2024.

At least that’s the judgement of Sports Illustrated’s Gilberto Manzano, who ranked the NFC North’s rosters.

As it was for so many years with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers’ fate will be tied to the play of the defense.

The Jordan Love-led offense should be excellent. While the Packers might not have a No. 1 receiver, they have the ability to overwhelm defenses with an abundance of playmakers. Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, Bo Melton, Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft give the Packers a deep and proven set of pass-catching weapons.

It’ll be up to new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to make the most out of Green Bay’s collection of top draft picks.

“If Lukas Van Ness, the 2023 first rounder, and ’22 first-round picks Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker find their footing, the Packers could have a deep defensive roster. That’s a lot of ifs, though,” Manzano wrote.

GM Brian Gutekunst made a huge splash in free agency by signing the top safety, Xavier McKinney. He added linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and safety Javon Bullard in the second round of the draft. Those three players should be instant starters.

“The best move of the offseason could be the signing of safety Xavier McKinney, who’ll look to make the same sort of impact Jessie Bates III did for the Atlanta Falcons last year,” Manzano said of the Packers hoping to turn “Lambeau Field (into) a no-fly zone for opponents.” 

For all of Green Bay’s potential improvement, Detroit might have stayed a step ahead this offseason.

The Lions “might own a top-five roster,” Manzano said of a team that almost reached the Super Bowl. They addressed their biggest weakness in overwhelming fashion this offseason.

Detroit’s cornerbacks were ripe for the picking by Love and Co. Perhaps not anymore. After acquiring Carlton Davis and signing Amik Robertson, the Lions used their first-round pick on Terrion Arnold and their second-round pick on Ennis Rakestraw.

“With depth at cornerback, Brian Branch, last year’s rookie standout, could move from the slot position to safety, creating a young, athletic duo with Kerby Joseph,” Manzano wrote. “Suddenly, the secondary appears to be a strength, leaving no holes on the Lions’ roster, at least on paper.” 

The Vikings are last in the rankings but boast a superb group of skill-position players that include elite receiver Justin Jefferson and former Packers running back Aaron Jones.

The Bears, with sky-high hopes after drafting quarterback Caleb Williams and surrounding him with a superb group of pass-catchers, are third but closing fast.

“Chicago’s outlook will likely come down to Williams,” Manzano wrote. “If he resembles (C.J.) Stroud more than Bryce Young, the Bears should be competing for the playoffs with their most balanced roster in years.” 

At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Lions are +145 to win the NFC North with the Packers at +185. They are well ahead of the Bears (+320) and Vikings (+900), who will be led by rookie passers.

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.