That was a rough week one for the players and fans alike, and I’m officially off to an 0-for-1 start to my regular season Packers predictions. We’ve got many more weeks before the fate of this year’s squad is known, but if week one is any indication the road to the playoffs may not be quite as smooth as originally anticipated. Take a deep breath, relax, as Aaron Rodgers would say and let’s take a look at my Green Bay Packers regular season predictions for the second half of the season.
Week 9 Packers @ Chiefs: The Packers have beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium in recent history (31-24, week 8 of 2019), so it can be done. There is one major caveat in that previous statement, Patrick Mahomes did not play in that game and the Packers barely beat backup QB Matt Moore. Come week 9 we will know much more about this Packers squad than we currently do, but after a disastrous week one you can presuppose that the defense will not be winning the Packers many games this season. Not a shock, but if the Packers are going to win in Kansas City, they are going to have to score early and often. The 2021 Chiefs squad also is an offense-first team with a solid but often leaky defensive unit. If the Packers offense is clicking on all cylinders and the defense or special teams makes a big play the Packers could steal this game. I don’t think that will happen as the Packers have wilted under the bright lights in marquee matchups like this recently. Home field at Arrowhead is too much to overcome, Packers drop this one.
Packers lose, 6-3
Week 10 Packers vs Seahawks: Cowboys. 49ers. Seahawks. Buccaneers. The Packers have always had a nemesis in the NFC. Maybe that’s not a revelation but every time the Packers beat one of these rivals it feels like exorcising a demon. Obviously the recent (and painful) history against the Seahawks still makes it special every time the Packers come out on top, almost like each win heals the wound of the 2015 NFC championship a tiny bit. The short of this matchup is the home team has won the previous nine matchups, and I expect the same this time around. Russell Wilson is always dangerous, DK Metcalf is quickly becoming one of the top 5 receivers in the NFL and the defense, while not as lethal as the legion of boom days, is still talented and well coached. I expect another close game, but the Packers will come out on top in a loud Lambeau showdown.
Packers win, 7-3
Week 11 Packers @ Vikings: We knew going into this season that the race for the NFC north was going to come down to two teams: the Packers and the Vikings. Regardless of status or standing, Packers vs Vikings matchups are always great. The Vikings O-line and defense as a whole are major question marks for the Vikings. Kirk Cousins is steady but unspectacular at QB and is prone to taking a bad sack or making a turnover at the most inopportune time. Conversely, running back Dalvin Cook is a persistent home run threat (when available) and the duo of sophomore standout wide receiver Justin Jefferson and veteran playmaker Adam Thielen provide more than enough ammunition for the Vikings to win handily at home. This is a game that could truly go either way, but I think this is a game where the Packers really hit their stride and come home with a W from the land of 10k lakes.
Packers Win, 8-3
Week 12 Packers vs Rams
The Rams will no doubt be out for revenge after getting bounced from the playoffs by the Packers in the divisional round last season. This year’s Rams squad features a new but familiar face under center in former Lions QB Matthew Stafford. I think this Rams team has scary potential, and could easily meet the Packers in the playoffs for a second straight year. Stafford is a BIG upgrade over Jared Goff and the defense is really good at all levels. This is a game where home field advantage won’t be enough to walk away with a win, the Packers will have to play perfect, mistake-free football on both sides of the ball. I think the Rams exact the revenge they were looking for and get the win.
Packers Lose, 8-4
Week 13 BYE
Personally, I like when the Packers have a late season bye week. I think it allows the team to take extra time to prepare for the home stretch of the season, allows the players to see their families and clear their heads and most importantly allows a respite from the mounting dings and bruises.
Week 14 Packers vs Bears
As I mentioned in the first matchup with the Bears, this game is also strongly contingent on who is under quarterback for the Monsters of the Midway. If Justin Fields has a bevy of starts under his belt by the time this second matchup comes around it could make things very interesting. I like the Bears odds better with Fields at QB, but even then I still think this is a long shot for them. Much like other perpetually bad teams, the Bears always find ways to lose instead of win. Packers get off the skid at home with a win.
Packers Win, 9-4
Week 15 Packers @ Ravens
I’d really love to wash the awful taste of being shut out by the Ravens in 2019 out of my mouth. This is a game that I think the Packers can win, and it could be a real catalyst for them in the race to the playoffs. The Ravens are dynamic but a bit one dimensional on offense, and feature the same stout defense (although lacking one elite corner in Marcus Peters) that has been their signature for the last 20-plus seasons. If the Packers can keep Lamar Jackson from running all over on them and force him into being a pocket passer I think they’ll be pleased with the result. The Packers defense will have to lead the charge in this game, but I think they’ll do just enough to leave Baltimore with a signature road win.
Packers win, 10-4
Week 16 Packers vs Browns
The Packers continue their tour of 2020 AFC playoff teams with a home tilt against the Cleveland Browns. Another team waiting to take the next step, the Browns could come into this game looking to lock up a top seed in the AFC…or they could be looking at another season where they had all the pieces but couldn’t quite put things together. The key to this game will be making quarterback Baker Mayfield uncomfortable and forcing him to make some mistakes. The Browns defense, like many 2021 opponents, is stout at the point of attack and rushes the passer well. The Browns offense features playmakers at every skill position and an especially talented duo at running back with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Assuming the Packers week 1 offensive woes were an aberration, they should beat the Browns in this matchup if they revert to the success of 2020’s balanced offensive scheme. Run the ball, wear down the Browns defense, take advantage of scoring opportunities and run to the exits with a W.
Packers win, 11-4
Week 17 Packers vs Vikings
Strange things happen when the Vikings and Packers meet. It would be SO like the two of these teams for each team to win the away game in the series and lose the home game. This game will likely have playoff seeding implications for the Packers, and it’s possible it could also have divisional crown implications. I could see the Packers making this game much, much closer than it needs to be with a potential game winning field goal from Mason Crosby. Hopefully this game is another notch in the Packers belt as they earn their playoff stripes, but if they aren’t careful the Vikings will be happy to play spoiler. I think the Packers eke this one out at home to sweep the Vikes.
Packers win, 12-4
Week 18 Packers at Lions
This is another game that gives me pause. The Matt LaFleur era has shown us that his squads have a proclivity to mark games in the win column before the contests are even held. The Packers MUST win this game in convincing fashion for their own psyche on the cusp of the playoffs. They must win this game for playoff seeding and to lock up the divisional crown. Divisional games are never easy, especially away games, but the Packers are the superior team and need to impose their will on a weak Lions squad. The Packers will win this game, hopefully sewing up a first round bye in the playoffs and another NFC north title in the process.
Packers win, 13-4 (12-5 after my week 1 miss)
Regular Season Round Up
Having written this series in two parts I’ve been able to draw on the innate optimism of a fan on the cusp of the NFL’s regular season and the misfortune of someone who watched their team dismantled in every facet in week one.
There are many plot lines yet to play out this season, but there is already cause for concern in Titletown. I firmly believe that the Packers offense will find its persona, perhaps not to the tune of 2020’s historic levels, but Rodgers won’t be kept down for long. My primary concern is a listless defense that may not be capable of picking up their offense when things are going sideways.
The Packers have a bit of a murderer’s row of 2020 playoff teams co-mingled with the always interesting divisional schedule. If the Packers can right the ship after a rocky start and win some games against quality opponents we could end up with the most battle-tested squad we’ve seen in the past few seasons.
Although I’ve predicted 13 wins, I sometimes wonder if losing a few more games could be beneficial to this Packers squad? They’ve shown a propensity to let accolades go to their head, why not keep them hungry with a big chip on their shoulder. I’m not saying I want them to sneak into the playoffs like 2010 without the benefit of a home playoff game, but that formula turned out okay!
You can follow Adam on twitter at @adamjcarlson28.