1. Green Bay Packers
As I mentioned before injuries are a huge part of the NFL. And that’s what keeping the Bears at number two and the Green Bay Packers in the top spot for me.
Clay Matthews has been dominant since entering the NFL. Last season he had his first drop in production in awhile, but I think he bounces back this year. I believe that injuries held him back, and having a full offseason to recover should do him wonders. I think Matthews could be a 90-year-old man out there and I would still worry that he would find a way to make a play.
Opposite Matthews is a fell USC alum in Nick Perry. Last year, Perry was an absolute force in the pass rush collecting 11 sacks in only 14 games. And at only 27 years old, he seems to be right in his prime meaning this year will only be better. A full powered Perry and Matthews combo is probably one of the best in the league.
Inside the Packers are very young, but still very talented. Jake Ryan is the elder of the two inside linebackers as he enters his third season in the NFL. His emergence was huge across the defense, as it allowed the Packers to trust somebody enough to move Matthews back outside where he belongs.
Ryan should be the starter in the middle for a long time, and hopefully, his running mate Blake Martinez stays right there with him. He played in 13 games during his rookie season, starting in nine of them by the end. He’s already being talked about as a breakout candidate for the Packers and I firmly believe that as well.
This new wave on the inside and veteran presence on the outside is exactly what teams yearn for. Expect big things from this Packers linebacking core in 2017.