Hopefully a visit from the Chicago Bears was just what Aaron Rodgers and the Packers needed to jumpstart their season.
Tied with the Lions atop the NFC North at 3-1, the Packers should consider themselves lucky that their schedule has been somewhat generous thus far, combined with the fact that, although their injury list is extensive, it hasn’t completely undone them.
In honor of the MLB Postseason starting up, it’s often said that “Legends are born in October”—the Packers have three weeks until the bye week, and they will be tested in every aspect of the game over that period—how this team responds to these challenges will show this league what Green Bay is made of.
Week 5: @ Dallas Cowboys
This marks the Packers’ second road game of the season, and they simply cannot come out as flat as they did earlier in the year against the Falcons. It’s America’s Game of the Week (and yes, we will have Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call, so take that as you will), and it’s the Dallas Cowboys. I grew up in Texas, and can say in full honesty that the slogan “Everything’s bigger in Texas” is true—the hype surrounding this game will be extensive, and the Cowboys will be ready to roll. Last season, Green Bay went into Dallas and came away with a victory in one of the all-time great playoff games. Pre-season, I had the confidence in the Packers to win this game, but two things have changed—Ezekiel Elliot was not expected to play in this game due to a six game suspension handed down this summer, only to be retracted before the season began, and the Packers are down to third and fourth string players (although that seems to be a common trend in Green Bay). If Mike Daniels plays and the defensive front can get pressure on Dak Prescott, give me the Packers—if not, expect big days from Dak, Zeke and Dez.
Week 6: @ Minnesota Vikings
No matter how big the rivalry, you never want to see players get hurt—Sam Bradford looked ready to lead the Vikings after a sensational Week One performance, and Dalvin Cook was on his way to becoming an elite running back that would have provided a stiff challenge for the Packers. Instead, the focus turns to the defense—Rodgers has now beaten every NFL team other than the Packers, but no other team has beaten Rodgers more than the Vikings, who have taken down the Bad Man six times in his career. A staple of Minnesota’s success has come on the shoulders of Mike Zimmer’s defense, and if the Packers want to win in US Bank Stadium, Mike McCarthy must get creative with protections for Rodgers and try to take the pressure off him with whatever running back is healthy that week. As much as it pains me to type, this was one I had marked down as a loss.
Week 7: vs. New Orleans Saints
In case you missed the last five meetings between these two teams, here’s a quick score recap:
- Saints 44-23
- Packers 28-27
- Packers 42-34
- Saints 51-29
- Saints 34-27
To spare you the quick math, that’s a total of 339 points—in other words, be prepared for little to no defense in this matchup—which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Two future Hall of Famers in Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers going head-to-head, likely for the final time, you had better believe that they’re going to put up some points. The Packers have a second shot at an elite NFC South quarterback, it’s time for the young secondary to rise to the occasion and prove that they can run with the best offenses. The Packers will have the advantage because they are at home and have more all-around talent, but when Drew Brees and Sean Payton are on the same page, bad things can happen for opposing defenses.