The Packers suffered an ugly, embarrassing loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday. The teams’ weaknesses on every level were truly exposed, which poses one important question; Is this year destined to be a repeat of 2019?
After all, Green Bay played the 49ers in Week 11 of last season, losing by an almost identical margin (37-8 then, versus 38-10 on Sunday). San Francisco had seemingly put forth the blueprint to beating the Packers. When the two teams met in the NFC Championship Game, it became clear the Niners had figured them out, advancing to the Super Bowl after a 37-20 victory.
Packers fans should be sufficiently scared that they may see the Buccaneers in the NFC playoffs this year. Granted, Aaron Rodgers will probably not gift the Bucs two interceptions again (including just the third pick-six of his entire career), but with the amount of pressure he was under and how the offense was completely shut down, Tampa Bay could very well punch their ticket home much like San Francisco did in 2019.
Before that happens, however, Green Bay has to reach the playoffs. So with the fear mongering out of the way, in this article we will try to predict the rest of the Packers’ schedule, as if to head off the disappointment of any future losses and bring to light any opponents that should scare this team (like the Bucs should) moving forward.
Weeks 1-5 recap
at Vikings, W (43-34)
vs. Lions, W (42-21)
at Saints, W (37-30)
vs. Falcons, W (30-16)
at Buccaneers, L (38-10)
Week 7, at Texans (1-5)
While Houston bounced back after an 0-4 start and the firing of their head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien, they lost in overtime against the Titans in Week 5. A very hard team to predict, the Texans can put up points and hang around, but all-in-all do not have the talent to keep up with a scorned Aaron Rodgers’ led offense after an embarrassing loss. This one may be closer than it should be, however.
Prediction: Win (5-1)
Week 8, vs. Vikings (1-5)
The Vikings look absolutely hapless right now. The previously 0-4 Falcons team that also just fired their head coach somehow hung 40 points on Minnesota in their own building, which is the second time this season they have allowed 40-plus points at home (Packers, 43 points). Even after a bye in Week 7 and a potential return by Dalvin Cook, this team does not look like it can beat Green Bay at Lambeau.
Prediction: Win (6-1)
Week 9, at 49ers (3-3)
This may be the hardest game to predict on the schedule. The 49ers seem to historically have Aaron Rodgers’ number. He is 4-6 against the team for which he grew up rooting, including three playoff losses (two of them particularly ugly). As discussed above, this new version of the Niners embarrassed the Pack twice last year.
However, San Francisco is shockingly banged up on both sides of the ball. and no longer can scare the Packers’ offensive line like they did last year. This matchup may depend on how healthy Green Bay is in Week 9. If they suffer some unfortunate injuries, this may be yet another loss for Rodgers against the team that passed him up in the draft. If trends continue though, and the team stays healthy, the Packers will probably edge this one out, but not by much.
Prediction: Win (7-1)
Week 10, vs. Jaguars (1-5)
There is not much to talk about regarding this matchup. The Jaguars are firmly implanted in the race for the number one overall draft pick, and lack talent at plenty of key positions. Assuming the Packers do not completely overlook their opponent and under prepare for this game, it should be an easy win.
Prediction: Win (8-1)
Week 11, at Colts (4-2)
The Colts’ defense has the league on notice this year, and can match up toe-to-toe with anyone. Their key to victory lies in a lack of Phillip Rivers mistakes, which could sink Indianapolis in a hurry if they start to pile up.
If Rivers plays well, though, this could be a very close, very tough loss for Green Bay. A well-prepared defensive scheme may just shut down the Packers like the Buccaneers did. The winning streak comes to an end here.
Prediction: Loss (8-2)
Week 12, vs. Bears (5-1)
As will be discussed below in more detail, Green Bay probably will not sweep the division two years running. Logic, however, says that if the Packers do lose a game to Chicago, it will be at Soldier Field, not at Lambeau. The win here may seal the division early.
Prediction: Win (9-2)
Week 13, vs. Eagles (1-4)
The Eagles gave the Packers fits last season, and the game ended in one of their three losses on the year. That will not be the case this year. Philadelphia’s defense is playing okay, but is completely decimated by injuries. Their offense is regressing immensely, much to the confusion of the entire league. Those issues coupled with the fact that the Pack will be at home for the second week in a row (which only happens twice in 2020), this should be a relatively easy victory if trends continue.
Prediction: Win (10-2)
Week 14, at Lions (2-3)
The Lions are coming off of a quality win against a less-than-quality opponent in the Jaguars. Unfortunately for Detroit fans, all that may do earn them a lower draft pick. Rodgers picked apart the Lions in Week 2 and will, in all probability, do it again in Week 14. Look for a better performance and a closer game out of this divisional foe this time around, though.
Prediction: Win (11-2)
Week 15, vs. Panthers (3-3)
This matchup can go one of two ways; A (hopefully) healthy Christian McCaffrey will absolutely chew Green Bay up and put this game away early, or the Packers’ more defined system will win a shootout by having the ball longer (and/or having it last).
Carolina was supposed to be in a rebuild, but after some great wins defined by impressive play from non-household names, Green Bay cannot overlook this team, even if they do suffer some sort of collapse by Week 15. This one is tough to call, but the tandem of Rodgers and Jones will probably do just enough to win here.
Prediction: Win (12-2)
Week 16, vs. Titans (5-0)
Frankly, the Tennessee Titans are built perfectly to beat Green Bay. The offense is excellent with a nice balance of run-pass without being too gimmicky to hurt itself with many mistakes. The defense does enough (and then some) to make sure the Titans can continue to run the ball.
Keeping Rodgers’ hands off the football is how to sink this team, and Tennessee will assuredly do that, all while wearing out Green Bay’s front seven. Derrick Henry may just have a 200-yard day against the Packers and there is little former-Titans’ offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur will be able to do about it. This could get ugly in a hurry.
Prediction: Loss (12-3)
Week 17, at Bears (5-1)
It is borderline unreasonable to expect Green Bay to sweep the division two years in a row. If anyone can do it, it is Aaron Rodgers, but airing on the side of expectation management means chalking up at least one loss to a divisional opponent. Being that the Vikings are regressing and the Lions are directionless, that divisional loss would come at the hands of the Bears, given our current model. That loss is more likely to happen at Soldier Field than Lambeau.
Nick Foles performs exceptionally well under pressure, so if this game has a playoff berth or seeding on the line for Chicago, he may just light up Green Bay. Especially if the Packers are resting starters in anticipation of the playoffs. This loss should only hurt Packers fans’ pride, not their Super Bowl hopes.
Prediction: Loss (12-4)
Despite mentioning it here and there, this prediction strategy obviously does not assume any major injuries to Rodgers, Jones, the offensive line, etc. Taking one step back in the loss column is maybe a bit disappointing, but keep in mind that the line for Packers’ wins this year was 8.5, with a good chance to miss the playoffs.
Just because they were blown out by the Buccaneers does not mean this team is cooked. In fact, the only real takeaway Packers fans should have is being scared of a potential playoff matchup between the teams.
The ship will right itself beneath the sails of Aaron Rodgers. A 12-4 record will suit him just fine.
Featured Image courtesy of Mark Ehrmann/Getty Images
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