9

November

Looking at the Packers Remaining Schedule after the Bye Week (with podcast)

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers celebrate after a 72-yard touchdown to Tom Crabtree against the Arizona Cardinals.

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers celebrate after a Tom Crabtree TD against the Arizona Cardinals.

Coming into the season, there were a couple stretches that appeared difficult on the Packers’ schedule.

The first tough part of the Packers’ schedule began on opening weekend, while the second challenging stretch figured to be coming out of the bye week.

In week one, the San Francisco 49ers came to Lambeau Field and controlled the game from the kickoff, as the 49ers’ stout defense completely shut the Packers down. The Packers were 0-1, and the schedule didn’t get any easier.

———————————————–

Listen to the accompanying podcast using the player below or  download the podcast from itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

———————————————–

The Packers were, again, playing at home in week two. This time, against a hungry and much-improved Chicago Bears team. Tramon Williams caught as many passes as Brandon Marshall, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers continued his dominance against Jay Cutler, confusing the Bears quarterback into four interceptions and a 28.2 passer rating.

Now back to .500, the Packers traveled to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Monday Night Fotoball. The Seattle crowd was, as usual, extremely loud, helping the Seahawks blow past the Packers’ offensive line for a season-high eight sacks. We all know how the game ended–the Packers won the game…except they didn’t.

Fans were outraged as the Packers sat at 1-2 with the New Orleans Saints coming to town in week four. The Packers offense got back on track against the lowly Saints defense, as Rodgers threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns.

The first “tough stretch” of the season was in the books, and the Packers were 2-2.

The schedule appeared to lighten up over the course of the next several games, but the very next week, the Packers blew a 21-3 lead over the Indianapolis Colts and fell below .500 once again. After their loss at Indianapolis, the Packers have won four straight games, defeating the previously-unbeaten Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals.

So, here they are.

The Packers are 6-3 at the bye week, trailing the 7-1 Chicago Bears in the NFC North division. While the Bears may have the best defense in the league through the first half of the season, they’re entering a challenging two-game stretch against Houston and San Francisco. So looking ahead, the Packers could have an opportunity to pull even with Chicago in the coming weeks.

But much like the Bears, the Packers are currently headed into another tough stretch of their own. Fresh out of the bye week, Green Bay will be on the road against two playoff teams from last season.

Coming out of the bye, the Packers will play at the Lions and at the Giants.

Out of the bye, the Packers play at Detroit and at New York.

First, they’ll play an important divisional game against the 4-4 Detroit Lions. While the Lions haven’t been the same explosive offense that they were in 2011, any team that boasts the league’s most dangerous wide receiver and a strong-armed quarterback will certainly test a defense, especially if the Packers are without Clay Matthews as is expected.

Then, the Packers will travel to the East Coast to play the New York Giants for the second consecutive season at MetLife Stadium. Green Bay won its regular season matchup against the Giants last season, before losing to them in the playoffs at Lambeau Field. The Packers will definitely be without Charles Woodson, more than likely without Greg Jennings Bryan Bulaga and perhaps without Matthews.

With the Packers playing shorthanded, splitting the two games out of the bye could be viewed as a successful stretch.

Prediction: Packers split the next two games.

Projected Record: 7-4.

Following a challenging couple games out of the bye week, the Packers will host the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions at home before travelling to Chicago to play the Bears.

The Packers will play three straight games against NFC North rivals.

Green Bay plays three straight games against division rivals.

By then, the Packers’ roster could start to look more like, well, the Packers.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said Jennings was expected to be out at least a couple weeks following his surgery, which suggests he could return to the lineup at this point of the season. Matthews will almost certainly be back in the lineup by the time Green Bay hosts the Vikings.

After a surprising 4-1 start, Minnesota has come back to earth a bit, losing three of its last four games. And while there’s no such thing as an “easy victory” in the NFL, the Packers should beat the Vikings at home.

Then in week 14, Green Bay will host the Detroit Lions at Lambeau. This primetime matchup on Sunday Night Football could mark the return of Charles Woodson, who was expected to miss six weeks with a broken collarbone. Of course, given Woodson’s age, the six-week timetable could always be prolonged into the stretch run of the season.

Still, with Woodson or not, the Packers figure to be much closer to full-strength against the Lions.

Then comes the most important game remaining on the Packers’ schedule. The Pack will travel to Chicago to play the Bears in week 15, and the game could potentially be for the NFC North championship.

Since the Packers dominated the Bears in week two at Lambeau Field, Chicago has been on a roll. The defense has scored as many touchdowns as they’ve allowed, and Brandon Marshall has been perhaps the best receiver in the NFL over the past six games.

If the Packers have any chance of winning the division, they’ll more than likely need to win all three of these games. The Bears will undoubtedly provide a stiff test for the Packers, but the game will, again, come down to Rodgers vs. Cutler. I like the Pack’s chances in that scenario.

Prediction: Packers win vs. Vikings, win vs. Lions, win at Bears

Projected Record: 10-4.

The Packers will then finish the regular season with two “should-win” games against the Tennessee Titans and the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, that’s assuming the Packers still have “something to play for” at this point of the season.

The Packers end the season against the Titans and Vikings.

The Packers end the season against the Titans and Vikings.

Through nine games, Tennessee has the worst scoring defense in the league. They’re allowing an average of 34.2 points per game, which could make for a nice, relatively stress-free win for the Packers. Of course, the Packers have already slipped up in similar games against the Colts and Jaguars this season.

The Pack finish the 2012 regular season in Minnesota against the Vikings. Again, the Packers are simply a superior team than the Vikings. As is always the case against the Vikings, if the Packers are able to contain Adrian Peterson, they should emerge with a win.

Prediction: Packers win vs. Titans, win at Vikings

Projected Record: 12-4.

With five of Green Bay’s remaining seven games are against NFC North rivals, the Packers “control their own destiny” down the stretch of the season, like Rodgers suggested.

Personally, I feel 12-4 will win the division this year. I realize the Bears are 7-1 and one of the hottest teams in football, but I think they’ll lose their next two games. If that’s the case, the Packers will more than likely have a chance to right all their wrongs from the beginning of the season and win the division when they face the Bears in week 15.

So despite suffering a loss that wasn’t and giving away a game to the Colts, the Packers have an opportunity to accomplish everything they wanted to accomplish this season.

Stay tuned, Packers fans. It’s going to be an exciting finish to the 2012 regular season.

——————

Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

——————

---- Get AddToAny

7 Responses to “Looking at the Packers Remaining Schedule after the Bye Week (with podcast)”

  1. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    Overall, not too far off. I could see the packers losing one of the games during the vikings, lions and bears stretch. Division games are just so tough. The Vikings will even be tough.

    If I was going to make a prediction I would say 11-5 on the year and a wild card birth. I like this team as a wild card team. Sometimes going on the road in the playoffs can really bring a team together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Rick Racic says:

      I agree with the 11-5 prediction. Of course, if these injuries don’t slow down and if we don’t get some bodies back we may be lucky to squeak out a 10-6 record.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. frozentundra91 says:

    -Liked the podcast.
    I think if the packers can split and win one of the bears/giants games they have a good chance to go 12-4.
    If the Pack can keep winning games and developing the younger guys, they have a good shot for a playoff push. It’s not exactly 2010 all over again but it is eerily similar. I don’t mind if the Packers aren’t blowing away easier teams as long as they keep winning and getting better. (My aren’t we spoiled by this team?)
    For me Matthews is the top priority to return. If Nelson returns soon as well to take pressure off Cobb and Jones I think this team can take off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Oppy says:

    I don’t expect this to happen, but I would not be shocked if the Packers lose to the Giants and then split the division games.. Which would lead to a 9-7 finish.

    I think it’ll be more likely 11-5 than 9-7, but going .500 in the NFC North is always a possibility no matter what the teams’ records are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0