The Packers’ schedule has been out for almost a week. What’s the prediction for what the second half of the regular season has in store for Green Bay?
Earlier, we discussed that the Packers will have to start hot to conquer the challenging opening stretch of the season. Green Bay takes on three division winners–the Seahawks, Falcons, and Cowboys–in the first five weeks of 2017. Coming out of that stretch at 3-2 or better would have the Packers on a good course for the postseason. The second half of this season presents its own challenges, but does not appear nearly as daunting as the beginning. We predicted the Packers would go 5-3 in the first half, but what is our prediction for the final eight weeks?
Week 10: @ Chicago Bears (2016 record: 3-13, 4th in NFC North)
The Packers finish their series with the Bears relatively early, playing them in Weeks 4 and 10. A big reason for that seems to be that there won’t be direct playoff implications from playing Chicago. If no difference makers get injured, then Soldier Field represents the only difference from Week 4. That’s not enough to turn the tide in the Bears’ favor.
Prediction: Packers win, 6-3
Week 11: vs. Baltimore Ravens (2016 record: 8-8, 2nd in AFC North)
The last time the Packers played the Ravens, Baltimore was the defending Super Bowl champion. Things look a little different this time. Joe Flacco continues to play like one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the game, and the loss of some defensive players has left the unit in flux. Green Bay should take care of business at home.
Prediction: Packers win, 7-3
Week 12: @ Pittsburgh Steelers- SNF (2016 record: 11-5, 1st in AFC North)
The second of back-to-back games against the AFCN comes with a visit to the division champion Steelers. Barring drastic turnover from a year ago, this will almost certainly be the toughest game in the Packers’ second half. While Aaron Rodgers can compete with anyone, the team simply doesn’t match up well with Pittsburgh’s numerous offensive weapons. Ben Roethlisberger may have contemplated retirement, but he’s a tough quarterback who’s significantly better at home. Green Bay probably drops this one.
Prediction: Packers lose, 7-4
Week 13: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2016 record: 9-7, 2nd in NFC South)
The Packers should get back on track by returning home to face Tampa Bay. The second to last home game brings Jameis Winston and Mike Evans to Green Bay for the first time. The early-December match up’s weather could end up playing a factor. While the Buccaneers have a promising future and talented young players, the Packers should win at Lambeau.
Prediction: Packers win, 8-4
Week 14: @ Carolina Panthers (2016 record: 6-10, 4th in NFC South)
This looks like one of the most overlooked games on the Packers’ schedule. Sure, Carolina finished last in the division last year, but they made the Super Bowl the year before. Cam Newton remains a game changer, even after a down year, and Carolina’s defense has playmakers. Give Green Bay a slight edge in what could be a crucial conference win.
Prediction: Packers win, 9-4
Week 15: @ Cleveland Browns (2016 record: 1-15, 4th in AFC North)
The Browns have a ton of draft picks as they look to quickly rebuild. But they also lost their top receiver from an already poor offense in 2016. While Cleveland’s future outlook holds promise, a Super Bowl contender like the Packers should have no problem.
Prediction: Packers win, 10-4
Week 16: vs. Minnesota Vikings- SNF (2016 record: 8-8, 3rd in NFC North)
The end of the Packers’ 2017 season will mirror that of a year ago: a Week 16 home game against the Vikings, and a Week 17 road trip to Detroit. While Minnesota probably won’t be tanking quite as badly as they were at this point last year, the Packers won’t lose their final home game.
Prediction: Packers win, 11-4
Week 17: @ Detroit Lions (2016 record: 9-7, 2nd in NFC North)
The schedule makers are hoping that there’s a three-way race for the NFC North title between Green Bay, Minnesota, and Detroit. If the year’s final game decides the champion again, then expect the result to be the same. While the Lions have the pieces to make the playoffs again, a division-siding game gives the more experienced Packers an edge.
Prediction: Packers win, finish season at 12-4.