The NFL announced that it will release its schedule at some point this week and it’s always like a holiday for NFL fans. In no other sport does a schedule release come with such anticipation with only 16 games and every game being of such importance.
Let’s first get a refresher of the Green Bay Packers’ opponents for the upcoming 2015 season:
Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers
Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders
The NFL loves to try shove the parity narrative down your throat, which is kind of a fallacy. Sure, there are a few surprises and disappointments every year, but you can pretty much pencil in a handful of teams in the postseason every season and a handful of teams at who will be at the bottom. Those teams have been the same for a number of years now. So, you can have a pretty good idea of how hard your schedule is at this point, even though most people will say you can’t really evaluate it right now.
The Packers are going to have a pretty tough schedule this year. They play both the NFC and AFC West, which are both very strong divisions. Green Bay had it much easier last year playing the AFC East and the brutal NFC South. Fortunately, the Packers get Seattle and Kansas City at home to avoid those brutal road trips, but road games at Arizona and Denver will be extremely challenging. As a first place finisher they will have to play games against the other first place finishers in the NFC — Dallas and Carolina.
While the out of division games will be challenging for the Packers I expect them to roll through their division games as usual. I don’t see a big second threat with the Lions losing Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley on defense. Minnesota is building towards something very good, but is probably another year away and the Bears will be a disaster until further notice.
When looking at the schedule you want to look for are any prolonged stretches against tough opponents, any abnormal stretches of home or road games, when the bye is and when the divisional games are. You would much rather have the games against Seattle, Dallas, Denver and Arizona spread out rather than bunched together so you can avoid any kind of losing streak. You would much rather have the bye in the middle of the season rather than at the beginning or end. You don’t want three consecutive road games. These things do matter.
The first game of the year is one people look forward to for obvious reasons. The Packers have lost three consecutive Week 1 games to San Francisco twice and Seattle. Losing Week 1 puts a lot of pressure on you in Week 2, since history isn’t very kind to teams who start 0-2. So, sign me up for traveling to Oakland Week 1 rather than Denver. Since the Packers are one of the marquee teams in the NFL that’s unlikely, which is how they got stuck opening with San Francisco and Seattle the last three seasons.
They’re likely to be among the NFL leaders in nationally televised games again and will probably open up against Denver, Seattle or Dallas in one of those nationally televised games. Filing in the rest of the schedule will be interesting and the first sign that the NFL will be back before you know it.