The Green Bay Packers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season. A broken collarbone that kept superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined for two months was the main reason for the drop off one year after reaching the NFC Championship Game.
Rodgers is expected back at full strength after making a cameo return in the latter stage of the 2017 campaign, which automatically moves Green Bay back into the contender category.
The weapons at his disposal will have a new look this year, though. Longtime favorite target Jordy Nelson was released in March and went on to sign with the Oakland Raiders. The Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham to help fill the void.
Otherwise, the Packers return most of their impact players from last season and should be a threat. OddsShark noted they own the seventh-best Super Bowl odds (14-1) at this stage of the offseason.
So let’s check out all of the important information for the team’s schedule following its Thursday release, per NFL.com. That’s followed by a closer look at Green Bay’s outlook for the upcoming season.
Green Bay Packers Schedule 2018
Week 1: vs. Bears on Sept. 9 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
Week 2: vs. Vikings on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 3: at Redskins on Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 4: vs. Bills on Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Week 5: at Lions on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 6: vs. 49ers on Oct. 15 at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: at Rams on Oct. 28 at 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 9: at Patriots on Nov. 4 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
Week 10: vs. Dolphins on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Week 11: at Seahawks on Nov. 15 at 8:20 p.m. ET on Fox, NFLN
Week 12: at Vikings on Nov. 25 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
Week 13: vs. Cardinals on Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 14: vs. Falcons on Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 15: at Bears on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 16: at Jets on Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Week 17: vs. Lions on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox
The Packers are a team with a lot of upside with the offense a strong bet to bounce back with Rodgers and a schedule, that while not easy, is certainly navigable.
Green Bay dropped from eighth in total offense in 2016 to 26th last year. That showcases the importance of having a reliable quarterback under center, especially one as good as the two-time NFL MVP and six-time Pro Bowl selection.
Rodgers leading an aerial attack that also features Graham, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison has the potential to post monster numbers. And what the running game lacks in star power, it should make up for in versatility.
Exactly how good the Packers can be will depend on improvement defensively, which is far less certain than the offensive rebound.
Green Bay ranked 22nd in total defense and 26th in scoring defense last season. It added defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and brought back cornerbacker Tramon Williams for a second stint with the club, but the unit will also need internal development to succeed.
All told, the Packers should be playoff contenders based on their offense alone. They’ll need better play on defense to become a serious Super Bowl threat, though.
The Packers’ season could very well come down to how they perform at Lambeau Field. They went just 4-4 on their home field last season, only one game better than their 3-5 road mark.
This year’s home schedule is tough to forecast because they should be favored in every contest, but there aren’t any gimmes on the slate either.
So, along with their games at Lambeau after their NFC North divisional foes—Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings—the clashes with the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers could prove crucial as teams that could challenge the Pack for a playoff berth.
All told, a record of 6-2 or better at home should put Green Bay on track for a postseason return.