The aim of any season is to win the Super Bowl. That's it.
Records are all well and good, but a team with an 8-8 record who slips into a Wild Card slot and wins out is no less a champion than a team which went undefeated.
You can argue all you want; the trophy looks the same.
What will this year look like?
Here are 16 way-too-early predictions for the Packers' 2012 regular season.
Week 1: At Home vs the 49ers: WIN
This is going to be a tougher game than fans give it credit for. While the San Fran offense is of the "do enough to get by" variety, the defense is top-notch. The Packers had the opposite problem in 2011.
It's early enough to where there is likely to be some rust to knock off still and the new guys (Jerel Worthy and Nick Perry) will still be getting their feet wet.
If this were away, it might be more of an issue, but in the cozy confines of home, the Packers have a better chance of overcoming a shaky defense than the Niners do overcoming no offense.
Week 2: At Home vs the Bears: Win
Much like the game against San Francisco, this one is tough and early enough to show some rough edges still. That said, at home against a division rival, I expect this to be the start of some very good play by said defense.
Ultimately, I don't believe in the revamped Bears offensive line—not in Week 2. This is a game where Clay Matthews and Nick Perry should have some success and the secondary gets the advantage of a rushed Jay Cutler.
I'm also not sure the Bears offense will have its No. 2 totally sorted out yet, and that will hurt them when the Packer focus on Brandon Marshall.
Week 3: at Seahawks: Win
The first road game is almost a "gimme" and more interesting for the assumed sight of once Packer Matt Flynn lining up under center in a color other than green and gold.
The Seahawks offensive line is still questionable until it proves otherwise, and their receivers are streaky. It shouldn't be hard for the defense to keep up its momentum against this offense. The guy who gives me the most pause is Marshawn Lynch, but take away the pass game, and the run should be something they can contain.
Same goes for the Packers offense against the Seahawks defense. The Seattle defense isn't awful and was hurt more by injuries than anything else. That said, this early in the season with all his weapons healthy, Aaron Rodgers will be too much for this defense.
Week 4: At Home vs Saints: Win
This game has so many variables on the New Orleans side that it's hard to feel confident in much.
Will Drew Brees play this season, or is the disrespectful contract the Saints offered going to be enough? Will Johnathan Vilma get his suspension reduced? Will anyone else? How bad is losing head coach Sean Payton?
Too many variables, and for now, I have to assume none change favorably.
If that's the case, it's going to be tough for the Saints to beat the Packers in Lambeau Field.
A few things change, and we'll have to revisit this.
Week 5: at Colts: Win
Suddenly, Packers fans are talking undefeated season. Prematurely, but five wins in five games will do that.
There's not much I have to do to convince you here, correct? Andrew Luck could be Aaron Rodgers in the making, but he isn't going to have success against this defense.
Meanwhile, the Colts defense is stripped bare, or near enough as it makes no difference. I can't imagine the Colts stopping it.
This is one they should win, and the biggest danger will be not overlooking the present in favor of the future.
Week 6: at Texans: LOSS
This is probably the best pure matchup of the young season. The Bears were close, but offensively, they aren't quite there, especially if Matt Forte holds out into the season.
If Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson are healthy, this is an incredibly dangerous offense. It will test this defense like no other team, save the Saints, and that's assuming the Saints work things out with Brees.
Defensively, Houston was the second-ranked defense in the league—third against passing and fourth against the run.
It isn't an easy task, especially on the road.
Ultimately, this is going to be a very hard game which can go either way. In the end, though, I feel like the margin for error is very low for the Packers, especially defensively.
The Texans come out on top this time out, but it will be one of the better games to watch this season.
Week 7: at Rams: WIN
Can a win count twice if you beat them by twice as many points as they score?
Coming off a road loss, I wouldn't want to be in the way of the Packers. The Rams are. Too bad.
I don't believe the Rams will be as bad as the world believes they are this year; however, they lack the offensive and defensive horses to keep up with the Packers.
Steven Jackson might have a good game, but really, that's about it. I'd say more, but really, what will there be to say?
Week 8: At Home vs Jaguars: WIN
This will not be as bad as you think it will be for Jacksonville, but it won't be pretty.
Will Maurice Jones-Drew hold out, and for how long? Will Blaine Gabbert be able to hold onto the job or is Matt Moore going to steal it? And if Gabbert holds on, how will year two look? Can this defense bounce back?
Unless there is a cataclysmic injury to Rodgers, I can't see this being too hard a game. If things don't fall perfectly for the Jags, it could be a long day.
Week 9: At Home vs Cardinals: WIN
Another game with a team which which just won't have the ammunition to handle the Packers. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have the potential to be one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league.
Unfortunately, the quarterback situation isn't up to that standard. Will Kevin Kolb's contract continue to look as bad as it does right now? John Skelton appears to be a better choice, but what is that worth?
The defense is actually not horrible, but it's going to be too hard to match the high-powered offense and what should be at this point the potent defense the Packers will bring to the table.
Week 10: BYE
So we're at 8-1 so far, an excellent start. Other than the first few games, very few of these games should be in doubt. It's been a soft schedule.
That's about to change.
Week 11: at Lions: WIN
Yes, I know coming off a bye should be the perfect scenario for the Packers, but I expect the Lions to be flying high after overcoming the Vikings, so this is one I wouldn't bet my house on.
That said, I feel better about the Packers defense than I do the Lions'. All it will take is one big stop, and that will be the difference. I expect this to be a close game, but in the end, the Packers defense (in fact the much maligned secondary) will make a key stop.
That will be the difference.
Week 12: at NY Giants: LOSS
This is another game which could go either way, but I don't see the Packers winning this in the Giants' house.
The Giants offense can put up points like the Packers can, and now, they've bulked up their defense a bit and it's healthy to boot.
This will come down to one big play by either offense, but expect a back-and-forth aerial battle for most of the game. Also, the Giants have a much better run game. In the end, if they have a lead, milking it away is something they can do effectively.
Only the second loss in 12 games? Not bad so far.
Week 13: At Home vs Vikings: WIN
Once again, the wrong team in front of a furious Packers team. The Vikings will have the chance to play spoiler in a few games, but unless some magic happens, this is just going to be too much.
The Minnesota defense is actually not bad, but there are just too many factors for the Vikings to account for. The Packers can spread the defense out and then cut them up.
On the other side of the ball, the biggest issue will be Adrian Peterson. Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson are tough matchups, or have the potential to be, since Harvin is ticked off about his contract and role in the offense and Simpson had all of one good season, but the engine of this offense is Peterson.
However, there is only so much even Adrian Peterson can do, and in Lambeau, I don't see the Packers losing to this Vikings team.
Week 14: At Home vs Lions: WIN
This game could find the Lions fighting for their playoff lives, especially if they lost to the Packers in the first game. If they lost to the Texans as well...yipes!
That said, the Packers are rolling and going to be hard-pressed to lose at home to anyone. Another high-scoring game that the Packers are able to make the one big stop on.
Week 15: At Bears: LOSS
A tough game to drop, but at this point, the Bears will have their game together. The defense will be humming, and I expect that the offense will be deadly.
Even at its best, Jay Cutler and company's efforts won't outscore the Packers offense straight up, but the Bears defense on its best game will be enough to slow and eventually stop Rodgers and his Merry men.
It won't amount to much long-term. I don't foresee the Packers losing home field this year even with three losses, but it will sting.
A loss to the Bears always does.
Week 16: At Home vs Titans: Win
This won't be as bad a whupping as the Rams or even the Vikings might get, but it's still not pretty. Yes, I expect Chris Johnson to bounce back from a horrific 2011 and Kenny Britt healthy should be a huge help offensively, but I don't have a lot of faith in this defense.
Or at least not enough to believe it slows the Packers down much.
Week 17: at Vikings: WIN
There is a good chance—as I have said since I took this gig—that the Vikings will come away with a win here.
If the Packers have their home field sewn up and can't move up or down in the standings for a first-round bye or something, they may rest their starters as they did in 2011.
I like Graham Harrell, but I don't think he's going to look very good against a fired-up Vikings defense.
That said, the same problem remains for the Vikings offense: How do you overcome the Packers defense?
Ultimately, while I like the idea of a spoilerific Week 17, I don't buy it enough to go with it.
So the Packers head into the postseason with just three losses.
Not too shabby. They should win the division again this year and have a very good chance of a first-round bye.
They are easily the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
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