Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIApril 17, 2012

Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

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    The 2012 NFL regular season schedule has been released for the Green Bay Packers and the rest of the NFL.

    While the opponents that Green Bay would face over the course of this season has been known since early in January, the dates, times and networks were released at 7 p.m. ET today.

    Here is a look at the complete Packers 2012 schedule with game-by-game predictions, information and analysis.

Week 1: 49ers vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:15 p.m. ET, FOX

    Well, anyone hoping for the Green Bay Packers to have an easy matchup to start the 2012 regular season must be disappointed by them being slated to play the San Francisco 49ers. This is a classic offense versus defense matchup and should be the premier Week 1 matchup of the NFL season.

    Of course, the big matchups are going to be the 49ers' secondary slowing down the Packers' aerial attack and the Packers' run defense attempting to get Frank Gore and the 49ers off the field. If Green Bay can put up points on the stingy defense of San Francisco, they will have a great chance of starting the season 1-0.

     

    Prediction: Packers 24, 49ers 21

    There is little doubt that this is going to be a hard-fought game between two of the best teams in the NFC. Home-field advantage will be the biggest factor in this game as Green Bay will barely squeak out a victory in Week 1.

Week 2: Bears vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

    With only four days rest between their first game and second game, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears could come into this game tired and sloppy. That style of play ultimately works in favor of the bears.

    This will be the first time that the Packers will face Jay Cutler when he has an elite receiver, and it will be interesting to see if the pass defense has improved any after an unimpressive 2011 campaign. If they can't slow down Cutler and Brandon Marshall, it could be a long game for the Packers' secondary.

    The other key matchup will be Julius Peppers against either Chad Clifton, Derek Sherrod, Marshall Newhouse or Bryan Bulaga. Whoever the Packers throw in at left tackle will need to keep Peppers out of the backfield if they want a chance to win this game.

     

    Prediction: Packers 28, Bears 20

    With both teams having a short week, the home-field advantage will play a huge role in this win for the second straight week for the Packers. If we're forced to choose a team to win a sloppy contest, we're choosing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Week 3: Packers vs. Seahawks

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    When the Green Bay Packers travel to face the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3, it will likely pit Matt Flynn against his former team.

    Flynn can't be happy about this matchup because if any defense knows how to slow him down, it's his former team. Look for the Packers to bring pressure early and often against Flynn to try and throw him off.

    The way that Seattle will win this game is by pounding the ball on the ground with Marshawn Lynch. Last year, Lynch proved to be one of the best running backs in the league, and if he can move the ball effectively on the ground, he'll keep Green Bay's offense off the field and give Seattle a great chance to win this game.

     

    Prediction: Seahawks 27, Packers 24

    The first loss for Green Bay will come in Seattle on Monday Night Football. While I believe Flynn will struggle, I can't see the Packers slowing down Lynch enough to get back on the field for a game-winning drive.

Week 4: Saints vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 4:15 p.m. ET, FOX

    The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints could possibly combine for 80 points during this game.

    Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are two of the best players in the NFL, and you can bet after their season-opening game in 2011, this will be a hard-fought battle. Offense will absolutely be the name of the game, and the first team hit 30 points will likely win this matchup.

    It will be interesting to see if either secondary is able to slow down the opposing quarterback. My guess is that there will easily be over 800 yards of offense in this game.

     

    Prediction: Packers 38, Saints 31

    The Saints are going to be hurting without their head coach or interim coach, and Green Bay will take advantage in a huge offensive showdown.

Week 5: Packers vs. Colts

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    The Green Bay Packers will get their chance at likely top overall pick Andrew Luck in a Week 5 matchup in Indianapolis.

    Depending on how quickly Luck learns the NFL game, he could have some difficulty with the Packers blitz-happy defense. We saw it last year with Cam Newton when the Packers caused numerous turnovers in a win over the Carolina Panthers, and Luck could have struggle in a similar matter.

     

    Prediction: Packers 35, Colts 17

    After facing four straight playoff-caliber teams, the Packers will steamroll over the Indianapolis Colts.

Week 6: Packers vs. Texans

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

    This may be one of the best matchups of the entire season, as both the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers look like early favorites to end up in the Super Bowl.

    While Houston has the advantage on the ground, the Packers have the advantage in the air. Like many of the other matchups for Green Bay so far this season, this one is going to come down to defense.

    If the Packers can slow down Arian Foster and shut down Andre Johnson, they'll leave Houston with the win. If their defense struggles and gives up a ton of yards, they'll lose.

     

    Prediction: Texans 28, Packers 24

    This is going to be a fantastic game between two fantastic teams, but the Texans won't lose this game at home.

Week 7: Packers vs. Rams

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    By Week 7, we should have a pretty good idea as to whether Sam Bradford suffered from a sophomore slump and is back to normal, or if the problems he had in 2011 are permanent.

    Either way, the Green Bay Packers will enter this game as big favorites against the St. Louis Rams. There are simply too many holes on the Rams defense, specifically in the secondary, to be able to slow down Green Bay.

    We could easily see Aaron Rodgers have his best game of the young season on the road in this game.

     

    Prediction: Packers 41, Rams 21

    This one won't be close at all as the Packers will look to get back on the winning track after a tough loss to the Houston Texans in the previous week.

Week 8: Jaguars vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    This one is going to be ugly.

    It's not just because Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback either. Well, actually, it is exactly because Blaine Gabbert is quarterback. Even if he takes a huge stride forward in 2012, he'll still be one of the worst quarterbacks in the league.

    The only chance, and it is a tiny, tiny chance, that the Jacksonville Jaguars have a chance at winning this game is if Maurice Jones-Drew just absolutely goes off. If he carries the ball 40 times and keeps the Green Bay Packers off the field, the Jaguars could sneak away with a win.

     

    Prediction: Packers 41, Jaguars 17

    Yeah, I said it was going to be ugly. Jones-Drew is awesome, but the Packers won't let him dominate them.

Week 9: Cardinals vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    The Green Bay Packers Week 9 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals will likely be one of the more underrated matchups of the NFL season. The Cardinals started to put it together at the end of the 2011 season, and if Kevin Kolb puts it together in his second season, this could be a really entertaining game.

    The key matchup to watch in this game is Larry Fitzgerald going up against Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. Fitzgerald is extremely difficult to slow down, and if he has a big game, the Cardinals could walk into Lambeau Field and come away with the win.

    Another entertaining matchup will be Patrick Peterson against the Packers' receiving corps. If Peterson takes huge strides forward as a shutdown cornerback, Green Bay could struggle moving the ball through the air.

     

    Prediction: Packers 37, Cardinals 27

    On the road, the Cardinals just won't have the firepower to slow down Green Bay's explosive offense. It will be an entertaining game, but the Packers will pull away late.

Week 10: Bye Week

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    Okay, take a deep breath. Rested?

    The Green Bay Packers will enter their Week 10 bye week with a 7-2 record.

    With a difficult final stretch of the season, this is the perfect time for the Packers to have their bye week.

Week 11: Packers vs. Lions

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    At this point in the season, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions should be in a heated battle for the top spot in the NFC North.

    This game will be as entertaining as any game this season, as both of these teams can put up yards and points in a hurry. Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers are two of the best, as are their top targets Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings.

    However, what will ultimately decide the outcome of this game will be the ground game. Whichever team is able to get something going on the ground will come out the winner.

     

    Prediction: Lions 35, Packers 31

    It will be a close game, but the Lions will win the first meeting between these two teams. This win will put them in sole possession of first place in the division.

Week 12: Packers vs. Giants

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

    This could be the best game of the entire NFL season. The Green Bay Packers get a chance to get payback for their playoff loss last year to the New York Giants.

    Look for the Packers to come out hungry and aggressive during this game. They'll be fired up, especially after losing last week to the Detroit Lions.

    The winner of this game will be the team that is able to put more pressure on the quarterback. Whether Clay Matthews or Jason Pierre-Paul is more successful during this game will ultimately decide who takes home the victory.

     

    Prediction: Giants 24, Packers 23

    This game will come down to a final field goal by the Giants to pick up the victory. It will also give Green Bay their first back-to-back losses of the season.

Week 13: Vikings vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    After losing back-to-back games on the road, the Green Bay Packers won't be able to wait to get home to play the Minnesota Vikings.

    They'll be angry and needing a win to keep up with the rest of the division to make the playoffs. Luckily, the Vikings at this point in the season should be out of the playoffs.

    Two players to watch in this game are Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen. As long as only one of those players plays well, the Packers should be fine. However, if Peterson is running rampant and Allen is consistently getting to Aaron Rodgers, the Vikings could pull the upset.

     

    Prediction: Packers 38, Vikings 21

    Green Bay will desperately need a win at this point in the season, and they won't disappoint.

Week 14: Lions vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

    With the Detroit Lions likely to be leading the NFC North at this point in the season, the Green Bay Packers will absolutely need to win this game.

    This will be another offensive shootout, as both teams will be reaching their full potential at this point in the season. The Packers will once again need to figure out how to slow down Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, and this time around, I believe they'll be successful.

    With one game under his belt against the Lions, defensive coordinator Dom Capers should be able to whip up a special game plan specifically for this game. As long as the Packers can effectively execute that game plan, they should win.

     

    Prediction: Packers 28, Lions 21

    Green Bay will be happy to split the season series and will pull closer and closer to their second straight divisional crown.

Week 15: Packers vs. Bears

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    No rivalry is as intense as the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, and this rivalry always seems more intense when the game is played in Chicago.

    At this point in the season, I see one of three things happening to Chicago. The first possibility is that Jay Cutler is injured. If that is the case, the Packers will win.

    The second possibility is that Brandon Marshall has lost it by this point in the season, and if that happens, the Packers will win.

    The only other possibility is that the Bears are playing to their full potential. Should that happen, Chicago will win and could be the favorite to win the Super Bowl at this point of the season.

     

    Prediction: Packers 17, Bears 16

    I'm clearly predicting that either Cutler is injured or Marshall has lost it at this point in the game. However, even with that happening, the rivalry between these two teams will make this an ultra-competitive game.

Week 16: Titans vs. Packers

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

    After back-to-back grueling games, the Green Bay Packers will get somewhat of a break against the Tennessee Titans. While I don't expect the Titans to be a terrible team, I just don't think they'll be able to keep up with the Packers offensively.

    Even with Chris Johnson likely to be back to form, the problem with Tennessee is going to be with the quarterback position. Neither Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker will be able to produce enough points to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and his bevy of weapons on offense.

     

    Prediction: Packers 31, Titans 20

    The offense in Lambeau Field late in the season will just be too much for the Titans to handle at this point in the season.

Week 17: Packers vs. Vikings

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    Kickoff Time and Network: 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

    I bet the Green Bay Packers breathed a huge sigh of relief when they saw that their final game of the season would come against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Since they'll likely need a victory to either win or tie for the NFC North crown, they couldn't have drawn a better team to play. They'll need to slow down Adrian Peterson, of course, but I actually expect another player to give them more trouble.

    That player is Christian Ponder. I expect him to take huge strides during the 2012 season, and he'll have a chance to play the spoiler in this final regular-season game.

     

    Prediction: Packers 38, Vikings 35

    Ponder will get the Vikings close at home against Green Bay, but it won't be enough to dethrone one of the best teams in the NFL.

Final Predictions

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    Final Record: 12-4

    While they won't match their 15-1 regular season of last year, I actually expect the Green Bay Packers to be a more complete team in 2012.

    Their difficult schedule to start the season will get them up to form quickly, and their easier final two weeks of the season will allow them to get ready for the playoffs.

    Look for Green Bay to continue to be one of the best teams in the NFL over the course of the season, and be poised to make a deep run in the playoffs as they look for their second Super Bowl in three seasons.