NFL Game Changers: NFC North

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Green Bay Packers – The Packers very well could be the team to beat in 2012.  For the majority of the season they were a dominant team.  Aaron Rodgers play was the biggest reason for that as he was simply off the charts with his efficiency ratings.  He is in an offensive system that fits his skill set excellently and he has a host of weapons to take advantage of.  It is that group of weapons that really sets the Packers apart.  While smart money is going to be on Jordy Nelson to continue his ascent into super stardom, I think that Greg Jennings is also going to have a huge year.  I know he just suffered a concussion, but he appears to be completely healthy.  He also does not have a deal in place after this season.  For many players this would be a distraction, but the classy Jennings has vowed not to allow it to affect his play.  If anything, I believe that it could have a positive impact on him this season.  Jennings  will be 29 years old next season, and possibly looking for a new home.  The reality that it could happen means that Jennings needs to perform at the highest level this year, so he will remain focused this season.  I also believe that the increased attention paid to Jordy Nelson this season will actually benefit Jennings significantly, allowing him to see less coverage rolled his way.
Detroit Lions –  Many of the voices around the NFL say that the Lions will fail to meet expectations this year for a variety of reasons.  Some blame it on the lack of a running game.  Others blame it on discipline.  While some simply say that the Bears are just better.  I have looked closely at both organizations, and I still think that the Lions will end up in a better position when the dust settles.  I know all the attention goes to the Bears addition of Brandon Marshall, but the Lions offense is far more explosive.  I believe that Titus Young is going to surprise a lot of people this year, and he is just one of many talented weapons on this Lions squad.  With all the attention being paid to their offense, I have to shift my attention to the defensive side of the ball.  Naturally people would expect you to think about Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley or Cliff Avril when you talk about their defense, but not me.  Those guys are all going to have a major impact this season, but I want to highlight third year defensive end Willie Young.  Willie Young was a 7th round draft pick in 2010 bout of North Carolina State.  While not as heralded as his predecessor Mario Williams, Willie has quietly developed into a very dangerous edge rusher perfectly suited to Detroit’s wide 9 scheme.  He is quick off the ball with excellent burst and uses his long frame to disrupt the passing game.  Willie has shown a knack at making impact plays from sacks and strips to interceptions.  His strong showing this preseason is just another indicator that he is steadily improving, and I believe 2012 will be a break out year for the big fisherman. Read more…