The Green Bay Packers Game endured a disappointing 6-9-1 season last year, marking the team’s second consecutive losing campaign. They also missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005 and 2006.
Head coach Mike McCarthy, who led the team to a Super Bowl XLV title, was fired after a 4-7-1 start capped by a 20-17 home loss to the 3-13 Arizona Cardinals.
Former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur stepped in as the Packers head coach. Green Bay also reloaded on defense thanks to free-agent linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith and safety Adrian Amos. However, defensive leader Clay Matthews is now a Los Angeles Ram.
On offense, franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers will make his return after tossing 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’ll be joined by a talented skill-position crew led by wideout Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones.
The talent is there for the Pack to return to the postseason, and we’ll start finding out whether this team is playoff-caliber on Sept. 5, when they open at the NFC North champion Chicago Bears.
Here’s a look at the Packers’ complete regular-season schedule.
Green Bay Packers Game Schedule
Week 1 (Thursday, Sept. 5): vs Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Week 2 (Sunday, Sept. 15): vs Vikings Game, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 3 (Sunday, Sept. 22): vs Denver Broncos, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 4 (Thursday, Sept. 26): vs Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m. ET (Fox and NFL Network)
Week 5 (Sunday, Oct. 6): vs Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 6 (Monday, Oct. 14): vs Detroit Lions, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Week 7 (Sunday, Oct. 20): vs Oakland Raiders, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Week 8 (Sunday, Oct. 27): vs Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Week 9 (Sunday, Nov. 3): vs Chargers Game, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Week 10 (Sunday, Nov. 10): vs Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 11: BYE
Week 12 (Sunday, Nov. 24): vs 49ers Game, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 13 (Sunday, Dec. 1): vs NY Giants, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 14 (Sunday, Dec. 8): vs Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 15 (Sunday, Dec. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Week 16 (Monday, Dec. 23): vs Minnesota Vikings, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Week 17 (Sunday, Dec. 29): at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
The Packers look ready to take on a manageable slate and return to the playoffs for the first time since their run to the 2016 NFC Championship.
On the plus side, only seven of eight teams the Packers face at home won more than nine games last year, and five of them sported losing records. Also, Green Bay plays five of six games at home after meeting Chicago in Week 1, which could help set the Pack off to a hot start.
On the other side, they should have tough matchups against the Minnesota Vikings and Bears (twice each) to help decide the division winner. The Pack also face the 12-4 Kansas City Chiefs and 12-4 Los Angeles Chargers in back-to-back road games on the road.
Still, this schedule doesn’t look impossible to traverse right now for the revamped squad.
Packers vs Bears
There doesn’t need to be much said here. Frankly, what other game would be No. 1 on the list?
The NFL’s oldest rivals were the natural picks to kick off its 100th season, making this game one of epic proportions.
This matchup is also a big deal outside of the historical context, though. The Bears are the kings of the North thanks to a division-winning 11-5 record, while the nine-time NFC North champion Packers are looking to return to their perch.
Last year, the Packers shocked the Bears in a Week 1 home opener, winning 24-23 after falling behind 20-0 and temporarily losing Rodgers to a knee injury before he came back and led the team to victory.
The Bears returned the favor with a 24-17 home win in Week 15. Both games were highly entertaining, and there’s little reason to believe that won’t be the case this year.
A Packer road victory here could also be a huge momentum boost for the remainder of the season.
Packers vs Cowboys
The Packers vs. Cowboys matchup could have meaning even if they were hypothetically winless at the time of their game. The rich history between the two sides dates back to the 1960s, when Green Bay beat the Cowboys in the 1966 and 1967 NFL Championships. You may know the latter game as the Ice Bowl.
The two teams have met in the playoffs six times since, with the Packers most recently upsetting the Cowboys 34-31 in the 2016 NFC Divisional Round.
This year’s regular-season matchup could be another playoff preview, especially with Dallas looking stout after finishing 10-6 and making the divisional round last season.
No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper, who was acquired in October, dominated to the tune of 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. On the other side of the ball, rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was a force in the middle with 140 tackles despite sitting nearly one-quarter of the time.
Dallas has great talent on both sides of the ball outside those two, and the same goes for the Packers after their offseason. In sum, the Cowboys and Packers could end up playing twice next year.
Packers vs 49ers
This matchup is notable for the same reasons as the Cowboys game above: Both teams have rich playoff history, and this could end up being another postseason preview.
The 49ers were snakebit by injuries last season en route to their 4-12 record. They were a hot candidate to make a dark-horse run into the postseason after finishing 2017 with five straight wins, but a season-ending injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helped end that notion. In addition, the defense did not fare well, allowing the fifth-most points in the league.
Much like Green Bay, though, there’s reason to believe in a bounce-back. Garoppolo will return, and the team has the second overall pick in the draft to ink a blue-chip draft prospect, preferably on the defensive side. The 49ers also showed signs of life in the latter half of the year despite being short-handed, beating the 10-6 Seattle Seahawks Game 26-23 in overtime and falling just short to the Bears, 14-9.
The sportsbooks seem to believe in San Francisco as well, with the team sitting tied for 12th on the Super Bowl odds ledger at 30-1, per Vegas Insider.
The Packers are tied for ninth on the list at 22-1, so there’s hope that both teams could bounce back and produce winning seasons, making this game a fun one to watch.