Well, the offseason is officially over. The Patriots take on the Chiefs tomorrow to open the 2017 season, and Green Bay’s year officially gets started on Sunday with a match up against the rival Seahawks.
As has been the case for the better part of the last decade, the Packers have Super Bowl aspirations on their mind. ESPN recently released their FPI, which projected that Green Bay would finish at about 9.9 wins and had the Packers favored in all but four of their games. While it’s hard to predict how a team will perform as the season goes on–after all, you’d be hard pressed to find projections from last year that had Green Bay lose three straight games to the Colts, Titans, and Redskins–how do the Packers figure to play in 2017?
Week 1 vs. Seahawks: Win (1-0)
The Packers and Seahawks have been pretty big rivals over the past few years, and their match ups have been marked by a consistent theme. Dating back to 2009, the home team has won each of the match ups between the two teams. That shouldn’t change this year, Green Bay wins its home opener.
Week 2 @ Falcons: Loss (1-1)
The Packers lost twice to Atlanta last season in two very different fashions. They lost by a single point in a back-and-forth regular season match up, then got blown out in the NFC Championship game. As nice as it would be to avenge those losses and start out 2-0, the Falcons will be inaugurating a new stadium. Much like last year when the Packers opened an opponent’s stadium in Week 2, they’ll slip to 1-1 again in 2017. This will also serve as a big indicator of how much the pass defense improved in the offseason.
Week 3 vs. Bengals: Win (2-1)
The Bengals are no longer the perennial playoff contender they once were. A.J. Green represents the second straight Top 5 receiver the Packers will have to cover, which will again help show whether 2016’s 31st-ranked pass defense got any better. Even with Green, the Bengals don’t have enough to slow down Aaron Rodgers–especially at Lambeau Field. Rodgers earns his first career win against Cincinnati, giving him victories over all 31 NFL teams.
Week 4 vs. Bears: Win (3-1)
The Packers play three of their first four at home, and will take advantage by starting strong at Lambeau. The Bears are still in a rebuild, and regardless of whether Trubisky or Glennon is playing, Green Bay has a far better team. They’ll move to 3-1 for the second straight season.
Week 5 @ Cowboys: Loss (3-2)
The Packers beat the Cowboys in the playoffs last year, but got trounced in the regular season match up in Green Bay. If Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension is upheld, that would go a long way toward ensuring a Packers win. But he ran wild against Green Bay last year, and the home field advantage could be the deciding factor between two of the NFC’s best.
Week 6 @ Vikings: Win (4-2)
The Packers lost in Minnesota last year, but should rebound this season. The Vikings’ defense is still a top unit in the league, but their offense leaves a lot to be desired. The team knows the importance of divisional games, and will look to establish early separation from the Vikings and Lions.
Week 7 vs. Saints: Loss (4-3)
The Saints are plagued by having a poor defense despite boasting a generation talent at quarterback in Drew Brees. He tends to take advantage of subpar pass defenses, which the Packers could very well have again in 2017. New Orleans thoroughly handled Green Bay in their last meeting–albeit in the Superdome–and they seem like a solid candidate to score an upset and deal the Packers their only home loss. Every year teams drop a game or two that they “should” win, and the Saints could be that bane to Green Bay in 2017.
Week 9 vs. Lions: Win (5-3)
The Packers take on the NFL’s newly made highest-paid player in Matthew Stafford, but they’ll start a new streak of wins against Detroit in Wisconsin with a victory coming off the bye week.
Week 10 @ Bears: Win (6-3)
Two straight divisional games will help the Packers on their way to a strong second half. Even on the road, Green Bay has handled Chicago pretty well in recent seasons. The Bears’ biggest weapon, running back Jordan Howard, won’t be enough to lift a team otherwise deplete of true offensive playmakers.
Week 11 vs. Ravens: Win (7-3)
The last time Green Bay played the Ravens, they were coming off their Super Bowl win. The Packers won that game against a team far superior to the 2017 edition. Joe Flacco seems to have regressed to his norm, and the receiving corps and backfield don’t seem particularly threatening. The Packers take care of business again at home, moving to 7-3 on the season–a far cry from their 4-6 starting through 10 games a year ago.
Week 12 @ Steelers: Loss (7-4)
The Steelers represent the toughest offense the Packers have to deal with in 2017. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell make up arguably the best QB/WR/RB trio in the league, and Green Bay will have its hands full with them, even if the defense is markedly improved from last season. The toughest test for Dom Capers may not result in victory–especially since the Steelers’ offense is much more prolific at home–but it could very well be the team’s last loss of the season.
Week 13 vs. Buccaneers: Win (8-4)
The Packers get back on track against Tampa Bay, improving to 6-1 at home before hitting the road for three of their last four games. Jameis Winston and Mike Evans are quickly becoming a formidable duo to deal with, but Green Bay begins a five-game winning streak with a win against Tampa Bay.
Week 14 @ Browns: Win (9-4)
The Browns are better than they were a year ago, but their still years away from truly contending. The Packers win a game they can’t afford to lose against Cleveland.
Week 15 @ Panthers: Win (10-4)
The Panthers underperformed in 2016 just a year removed from playing in the Super Bowl. They’ll probably be better this season, but still not as good as the top tier teams in the NFC. If the Packers are going to live up to their Super Bowl hype, they’ll need a December win against Carolina to solidify that belief.
Week 16 vs. Vikings: Win (11-4)
Green Bay improves to 7-1 at home by handling the Vikings in a game that could very well eliminate Minnesota from NFC North contention. The Packers handled the Vikings and Lions to end last season, and will be looking for a repeat performance this year. Once again, Minnesota’s lack of offensive weapons hurts their ability to contend with what could be one of Green Bay’s best offensive units of the Aaron Rodgers era.
Week 17 @ Lions: Win (12-4)
The NFC North title has been decided in a Week 17 divisional game involving the Packers every year since 2013. The Lions look to be the biggest threat to Green Bay once again in 2017, meaning the last regular season game could again be for the title. Just like last year, the Packers could play spoiler in Detroit again. Green Bay wraps up a season with a perfect 6-0 divisional record, a 12-4 record, and another NFC North title.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .