Green Bay Packers 2019 season preview: It begins with Rodgers and LaFleur

LaFleur's hiring nothing short of rare (1:38)

Packers reporter Rob Demovsky details the process that went into hiring 39-year-old Matt LaFleur as head coach. (1:38)

The Green Bay Packers are ranked No. 10 in ESPN's preseason Football Power Index. Here's everything you need to know about them heading into the 2019 NFL season:

The big question: Will QB Aaron Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur click?

It's been the question since Jan. 8, the day LaFleur was hired as Packers coach. And we don't seem much closer to knowing the answer. It's a new offense for Rodgers, whose entire career as a starter had been under Mike McCarthy's tutelage. Training camp saw good days and bad. It could take a while before anyone knows whether this system will work for Rodgers & Co. "You're probably not going to know something until the middle of the season," GM Brian Gutekunst said. "These things take time." -- Rob Demovsky

Offseason in a nutshell

While the offense underwent a scheme overhaul, the defense revamped its personnel thanks to three high-priced free agents -- edge rushers Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith along with safety Adrian Amos -- and two first-round picks in Rashan Gary and Darnell Savage Jr. But LaFleur's decision to retain defensive coordinator Mike Pettine may have been the biggest move because unlike the offense, the defense won't have to start from scratch. -- Demovsky

Inside the Packers' schedule

Most important game: Week 2 vs. Minnesota. Does anyone really expect the Packers to beat the Bears, the reigning NFC North champions, in the season opener at Soldier Field? McCarthy's first game was a 26-0 loss to the Bears. The problem was, he also lost in Week 2, and it was a hole they couldn't recover from on the way to a 4-8 start. If LaFleur can split the first two, the Packers will feel like they're in a decent spot.

Toughest stretch: Four of the last six games are away from Lambeau Field. It starts with games at the 49ers in Week 12 and at the Giants in Week 13, and it finishes with NFC North games at Minnesota and at Detroit.

Over or under 8.6 wins? Over. But just barely. Mike Holmgren won nine games in his first season. Mike Sherman won nine in his first season. Ray Rhodes and McCarthy each won eight. All four coaches had Brett Favre. LaFleur has a future Hall of Fame QB, too. Nine wins sounds about right. -- Demovsky

Schedule ranking: No. 13

The Packers somehow ended up playing three straight games against teams with extra rest, although home games against the Lions and Raiders aren't quite as daunting as a trip to Arrowhead Stadium. They play a fourth game against a team with extra rest when they host Chicago in Week 15. The Packers have to play both the Chiefs and Chargers on the road, and they're doing it in consecutive weeks. The Packers open with two consecutive divisional games and end with three straight NFC North games, making Week 6 against Detroit their only divisional contest between Week 3 and Week 14. -- Football Outsiders | See the full 1-32 ranking

Breakout fantasy star: Marquez Valdes-Scantling

A dart-throw in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, Valdes-Scantling posted a 38/581/2 receiving line and averaged a solid 8.2 yards per target as a rookie. His average of 5.7 yards after the catch ranked 11th at the position. The wide receiver depth chart is wide open behind Davante Adams, and the 6-foot-5 Valdes-Scantling is viewed as the favorite for No. 2 duties. If he nails down the job, he'll push for flex (or better) production as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center. -- Mike Clay | More fantasy coverage

The view from Vegas

Super Bowl odds: 18-1 (opened 20-1)
Over/under: 9 (O -125/U +105)
Playoff odds: Yes -110, No -110

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of Sept. 2.

Most interesting player prop

Over/under 31.5 touchdown passes for Aaron Rodgers:

  • Demovsky: Under. There's going to be an adjustment period for Rodgers in LaFleur's offense, which, by the way, is expected to be more run-heavy than any offense Rodgers has played in with the Packers. Rodgers has topped 31.5 TDs in a season only once in the past four years.

Bold prediction: Rodgers throws double-digit interceptions

For the first time since 2010 and just the second time in his career, Aaron Rodgers will throw double-digit interceptions. Last year, Rodgers had two, but he threw the ball away at an alarming rate. Not that Rodgers will force more throws this year, but there are bound to be some miscues as he navigates his way through a new offense with a new playcaller. -- Demovsky

Where the Packers landed in NFLRank

Speed reads before the opener