Every year, predicting the Packers schedule is an impossible task—this team has the potential to beat any team in the league and at the same time lose to any team in the league. Right now, I think the Packers are a 9-7 caliber team—however, the return of Aaron Rodgers alone is enough to give them a couple more wins. Here’s how I believe the Packers schedule will play out in 2018.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9 vs. Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m. ET
I’m giving the Bears almost no chance to win this game—Aaron Rodgers is returning to Lambeau for the first time since Week 4 of last season (coincidentally, against the Bears), it’s the home opener, and it’s the first game of the 100th season of the Packers. Look for a double-digit Packer victory.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. ET
I went back and forth on this one—the Vikings are the better team, but the Packers at home will do just enough to outlast the newly-acquired Kirk Cousins in a low-scoring affair. The biggest story in this game will be the reception of Anthony Barr in Lambeau Field—he’ll be booed every time the camera finds him.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23 @ Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m. ET
No easy task in the first road game as the Packers will square off against a veteran quarterback in Alex Smith, but the Redskins don’t have enough on defense to contend with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, especially in the middle of the field with the acquisition of Jimmy Graham.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30 vs. Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET
The Bills can win this game if A.J. McCarron (or a quarterback from the draft) plays well—they have a defense that can frustrate Rodgers, and it’s gotten even better with the additions of Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy. They’ll keep it close, but not enough on the offensive end to escape with a win.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7 @ Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m. ET*
The first loss has to come sometime—it’s unrealistic to think that a team with as many holes as the Packers will head into the bye unscathed. Matt Patricia will use tricks out of the Belicheck playbook and throw different defensive schemes that Mike McCarthy won’t be able to counter. Close first loss for the Pack.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 15 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 8:15 p.m. ET
The 49ers are on the way up again after several porous years, but I need to see more of Garoppolo before I can pick the 49ers in this game. What to watch for—Richard Sherman vs. Davante Adams. For Sherman, it’s his time to prove he is still elite. Adams is ready to prove he’s a top-five receiver. Should be an exciting matchup.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28 @ Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET*
This is the start of one of the toughest stretches of games in the NFL this season. The Rams are building one of the best defenses in the NFL through free agency, which is bad news for the Packers—but they can also put up points, leading the league in scoring last season at 29.9 PPG—which is even worse news for a below-average Packers defense.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4 @ New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m. ET*
The Patriots have a lot of issues in the Brady-Belicheck-Gronk triangle right now—Brady hasn’t fully committed to playing next season (he will, but it’s concerning that he’s even hesitant). If it is the last Brady-Rodgers matchup, expect nothing less than an instant classic. But it’s the Patriots in Foxborough, and this looks like the third loss for the Packers.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11 vs. Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. ET*
This is exactly what the Packers need in the midst of a brutal road trip—a Dolphin team that has lost star players and struggled to get the ball into the endzone last season. Tannehill will be back, which is good news for Miami, but it’s not enough in Lambeau Field.
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 15 @ Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET
If you’re going to be taken seriously as a playoff contender, you have to win road games in tough environments. There’s no greater homefield advantage that CenturyLink Field, a venue in which the Packers have never won under that name. However, the Seahawks are depleted this year, and I like the Packers to get a big win here.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25 @ Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET*
It’s a tall task for the Packers to go into U.S. Bank stadium and leave with a win. The Vikings have won four of the past five matchups for the simple fact that they have the superior defense, holding the Packers to 15 PPG in those five matchups. The division is tied after this one.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. ET*
A warm weather team in Lambeau in December? Green Bay will take that all day. The Cardinals have question marks at quarterback right now, which bodes well for a weaker Packers secondary. The Packers should have no problems here.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9 vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m. ET*
A dome team in Lambeau in December? If it wasn’t Atlanta, I’d take it. The Packers can’t seem to figure out Matt Ryan and the Falcons. They’ve given up an average of 37 points per game, and although the score won’t be as high in colder weather, the Pack drop their fourth in a row to the Falcons.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16 @ Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. ET*
The Bears are showing signs of improvement, but not enough to beat the Packers. Trubisky is still in the stages of early development and Matt Nagy is working on the defense. Green Bay has not lost in Soldier Field since 2010.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23 @ New York Jets, 1:00 p.m. ET*
The Jets are not a good football team, but if they nail the draft, they could wind up with a franchise quarterback that would make them an average team this season. But no matter who it is, it’s not enough to beat Aaron Rodgers and Co.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30 vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m. ET*
This could very well be for a playoff berth once again—perhaps not for the Lions, but in a stacked NFC, the season could come down to Week 17 for the Packers. They made the most of their opportunity in Ford Field two years ago, I like their chances in Lambeau.
*- Times may be subject to change