The 2012 season is still young, but at the same time, only 11 games remain for the Green Bay Packers to turn around their early season misfortunes and right the ship for a strong postseason charge.
That’s a decently-sized deficit for this early in the season, and it won’t be easy to make up that ground.
Each game from here on out has essentially turned into a must-win.
Here’s a look at each remaining matchup:
This very well could be a turning point in Green Bay’s season.
A strong road performance against the best team through the first five weeks that results in a victory would be just what the Packers need for confidence and a measuring stick of just how good they can be.
If they lose, however, chances of making the playoffs fall dangerously close to zero.
Ten is the likely win total needed to at least grab a wild card spot, which means Green Bay would have to go 8-2 over its final 10 games against a rough schedule.
Before the season began, this looked like it would be an easy win for the Pack.
But given how each team has performed so far in the year, St. Louis is the probable favorite at home.
This game will be the first chance to shine for whoever becomes the new Green Bay starting running back.
St. Louis owns one of the best cornerback tandems in Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. The duo will make it difficult for Green Bay to move the ball through the air effectively, so either Alex Green, James Starks or Brandon Saine will have to step up and earn hard-fought yards on the ground.
It sounds like Green will be the starter against Houston, but that could change if he doesn’t perform well.
This game should serve as a confidence booster more than anything else.
The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the league. They rank last in passing yards per game, 18th in rushing yards per game, 21st in passing yards allowed per game and 29th in rushing yards allowed per game.
Green Bay will have an easy time moving the ball through both the air and ground and an even easier time stopping Jacksonville’s offense.
This game will be a great opportunity for the Packers to reestablish their identity and build confidence heading into the second half of the schedule.
This will be yet another pivotal game in Green Bay’s schedule.
The Packers have a chance to start out the second half of the season with a bang. Facing one of the most impressive teams and best defenses of the young 2012 season at home, Green Bay can send a message that it is the real contender, while Arizona is the pretender.
Then heading into the bye week, the Packers can rest up and get healthy before the real tough part of the schedule begins.
The bye week couldn’t have been placed more perfectly for Green Bay.
The team will have an extra week to restore its energy and health and begin game-planning to start the season with a 2-0 division record.
The Packers play four division foes in five games starting here, so it will be vital to start that stretch with a win on the road.
That one word perfectly summarizes what this game will be all about.
After the Packers narrowly defeated the Giants on their home turf last year en route to a 13-0 start and 15-1 overall record, New York returned the favor with a 37-20 beat down at Lambeau Field in Green Bay’s first playoff game.
Now, it’s the Packers’ turn to swipe a road victory in this new found rivalry. I’m sure they’ve had this game circled for a long time.
The Minnesota Vikings have become the surprise team of 2012, much like San Francisco was last year.
Time will tell if the Vikings can keep pace with their fast start, but they have looked very impressive so far.
Much like the Arizona game, this will be a great chance for the Packers to send a message to the upstart Vikings, letting them know the road to the NFC North title goes through Green Bay and doesn’t come easily.
The Packers will be at home and fired up to put Minnesota in its place.
This will mark the second time in four games the Packers face the Lions.
Although Detroit has started the season slowly with a 1-3 record, they are still not an easy opponent, especially with these teams’ style of play.
Both teams excel with the passing game while disregarding the run, and possess a below-average defense.
Expect every game between the Packers and Lions to be a shootout for the next several years. And as long as Detroit has Calvin Johnson, they’ll have an excellent shot at grabbing victory.
Green Bay put the beat down on Chicago earlier this season, but don’t expect that to happen again in round two. Besides that loss, the Bears have looked like world-beaters.
According to gridironrank.com, which ranks teams based on how well they perform in given situations, Chicago has by far the league’s best defense, the 12th best offense and is the second best team all around.
The Bears will be at home and looking to avenge their early season embarrassment. This could be for the NFC North title, and this is arguably the league’s best rivalry.
All signs point toward this game being an epic showdown.
As long as everything goes to plan, this will be a much needed easy victory for the Packers.
In the second half of their schedule, the Titans are the only team I consider to be in the bottom half of the league—and they’re way at the bottom.
While the Packers will be fighting for their playoff lives, an easy win will go a long way in landing at least a wild card spot.
I’m guessing by this point, the Vikings will fall off a little bit, but still be a strong contender for one of the two wild card spots.
If the Packers can’t catch up with the Bears for the division lead, this game could decide whether they or the Vikings get to play in January.
While playing in the always intimidating Metrodome will give the Vikings a significant home field advantage, the Packers are really built to be a dome team and should benefit from playing indoors during December.
Expect Green Bay to pull out this victory, but not necessarily with ease.