The Packers’ schedule has been out for almost a week. What’s the prediction for what the first half of the regular season has in store for Green Bay?
Green Bay needs to be ready out of the gate to have a successful 2017 season. The initial stretch of games looks challenging, so the Packers can’t afford to repeat the slow start from last year. While the team can beat anyone when Aaron Rodgers & Co. are playing well, the first eight games of the upcoming year will reveal how much Green Bay improved. Even though the draft remains a couple days away, it’s never too early to project how the team will perform. In this still-too-early prediction, how do we see the Packers performing in the first half of 2017?
Week 1: vs. Seattle Seahawks (2016 record: 10-5-1, 1st in NFC West)
The Packers open the season at home for the first time since 2012 against one of their biggest current rivals. The Seahawks have lost two straight games against Green Bay, both coming at Lambeau Field. The Packers have a chance to make that three in a row, and should succeed in doing so. Green Bay matches up well against Seattle, and trounced them 38-10 in the 2016 contest. Eddie Lacy makes his first trip to Lambeau as a visitor.
Prediction: Packers win, 1-0
Week 2: @ Atlanta Falcons-SNF (2016 record: 11-5, 1st in NFC South)
The Packers face a brutal first two weeks, taking on a pair of 2016 postseason teams. The reigning NFC Champion Falcons destroyed Green Bay’s defense in the playoffs before crumbling historically in the Super Bowl. Last year’s MVP Matt Ryan will run one of the NFL’s top offenses yet again. And frankly, the Packers haven’t done much to show they’ll be able to slow down the likes of Julio Jones. Atlanta will also come out extremely fired up as they debut their new stadium. An 0-2 start for the Packers wouldn’t bode well, but entering Week 3 at 1-1 is nothing to be ashamed about.
Prediction: Packers lose, 1-1
Week 3: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (2016 record: 6-9-1, 3rd in AFC North)
The Bengals regressed in 2016, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The tandem of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green remains formidable, but the supporting cast doesn’t always show up for Cincinnati. A win here would also give Aaron Rodgers another notch on his championship belt. The Bengals are the only team (other than the Packers) who #12 has yet to beat. His odds seem pretty good heading into 2017.
Prediction: Packers win, 2-1
Week 4: vs. Chicago Bears-TNF (2016 record: 3-13, 4th in NFC North)
The Packers play at Lambeau for three of their first four games, concluding that stretch with a Thursday night game against the Bears. The NFL’s oldest rivalry gets renewed with a lot at stake. If the Packers win, they’ll retake the overall series record for the first time since 1932. The Bears will finish better than 3-13 with a talented core of young players. But they’re still rebuilding, and Green Bay’s the better team.
Prediction: Packers win, 3-1
Week 5: @ Dallas Cowboys (2016 record: 13-3, 1st in NFC East)
The Cowboys probably won’t look as good as they did in 2016. Dak Prescott will likely play worse than in his outstanding rookie standing. But the offensive line remains the best in football, and Ezekiel Elliott should be a perennial contender to lead the league in rushing. The Packers got the last laugh with a postseason win over Dallas last year, but don’t forget how thoroughly the Cowboys beat Green Bay in the regular season. The visitors might escape with a win, but they could definitely falter here.
Prediction: Packers lose, 3-2
Week 6: @ Minnesota Vikings (2016 record: 8-8, 3rd in NFC North)
The 2016 season’s final undefeated team finished the year 3-8 to miss the playoffs. Both the Vikings and Lions will battle for the NFC North title, but the Packers are still the best team in the division. It won’t be easy, but the Packers should get their first win at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Prediction: Packers win, 4-2
Week 7: vs. New Orleans Saints (2016 record: 7-9, 3rd in NFC South)
The match up between last year’s two worst passing defenses should feature a quarterback duel between Rodgers and Drew Brees. Neither defense has added major pieces to remedy struggling secondaries, so this could easily become a shoot out. This looks like a good contender to be the Packers’ only home loss of 2017.
Prediction: Packers lose, 4-3
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: vs. Detroit Lions- MNF (2016 record: 9-7, 2nd in NFC North)
The Lions made the playoffs as a wild card team last season, after the Packers won another winner-take-all Week 17 game for the division crown. Under the leadership of Matt Stafford, Detroit will likely be the biggest threat to Green Bay winning another NFCN title. But they won’t get a win in Wisconsin, where they’ve won just once in the past two decades.
Prediction: Packers win, 5-3