The Green Bay Packers’ 2012 season didn’t end with a Lombardi Trophy as it did following their 2010 campaign, but an 11-5 regular-season record and trip to the divisional round is no reason to be discouraged.
The 2013 season should be no different than previous successful seasons.
The familiar faces of Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson and Donald Driver departed Green Bay this offseason, but general manager Ted Thompson has been masterful by rejuvenating his team each year through the draft.
Youngsters like Randall Cobb are poised to be even bigger contributors this season, and April’s draft will be key to filling some of the remaining vacancies left in the wake of Green Bay’s offseason.
One of the few teams that can stand pat in free agency and still be a contender from year to year, Green Bay will be prepared for a challenging 2013 schedule by Week 1.
Let’s take a look at the Packers' schedule for this season and analyze the matchups, including a few particularly challenging contests on the road.
|2013 Green Bay Packers Schedule|
|1||Sept. 8 ||at San Francisco 49ers ||4:25 p.m. ET||FOX|
|2||Sept. 15 ||vs. Washington Redskins ||1:00 p.m. ET ||FOX|
|3||Sept. 22 ||at Cincinnati Bengals ||1:00 p.m. ET ||FOX|
|4||Sept. 29||BYE WEEK ||—||—|
|5||Oct. 6||vs. Detroit Lions ||1:00 p.m. ET||FOX|
|6||Oct. 13||at Baltimore Ravens||1:00 p.m. ET||FOX|
|7||Oct. 20||vs. Cleveland Browns||4:25 p.m. ET ||CBS|
|8||Oct. 27||at Minnesota Vikings||8:30 p.m. ET ||NBC|
|9||Nov. 4 ||vs. Chicago Bears||8:40 p.m. ET ||ESPN|
|10||Nov. 10||vs. Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 p.m. ET ||FOX|
|11||Nov. 17||at New York Giants||8:30 p.m. ET ||NBC|
|12||Nov. 24||vs. Minnesota Vikings||1:00 p.m. ET ||FOX|
|13||Nov. 28 ||at Detroit Lions||12:30 p.m. ET ||FOX|
|14||Dec. 8||vs. Atlanta Falcons||8:30 p.m. ET ||NBC|
|15||Dec. 15||at Dallas Cowboys||4:25 p.m. ET||FOX|
|16||Dec. 22 ||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||4:25 p.m. ET||CBS|
|17||Dec. 29 ||at Chicago Bears||1:00 p.m. ET ||FOX|
Note: For a complete look at Green Bay's 2013 schedule, check out NFL.com.
The NFC North is an intriguing division. Green Bay has been the class of the division in recent years, but the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings have all posted quality seasons of late.
Still, it’s difficult to predict what will come of the division this year. Comprised of enigmatic yet talented teams, the NFC North has the potential to be full of playoff-caliber squads.
Which opponent presents the most difficult challenge for the Packers this season?
The Packers will also square off with nonconference counterpart AFC North this season with games against the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals on the road and the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field.
The AFC North is undergoing major changes this offseason. The Super Bowl champion Ravens were decimated in free agency, and the Steelers lost several key pieces including linebacker James Harrison. The Browns look to be a team on the rise, though, and both Cleveland and Cincinnati are poised to be much better squads in 2013.
The remaining four opponents won’t be any easier.
Green Bay will square off with three NFC East opponents (Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants) and the San Francisco 49ers (fresh off a Super Bowl appearance) to round out the schedule.
The Packers are in an interesting situation. Every opponent on their schedule has the potential to be a quality team in 2013, but several also have the potential to take a step backward this season.
Green Bay can’t control any of that, though. As they do every year, the Packers will be ready to play the games on their schedule with all eyes on another Lombardi Trophy.
Every NFC East contest will be a pivotal matchup this year, but a few notable non-divisional opponents present particularly intriguing affairs, starting with a playoff rematch.
The San Francisco 49ers shocked the Packers in the playoffs last season with a 45-31 victory that saw budding superstar Colin Kaepernick make the biggest statement of his career to that point. The 49ers generated 579 yards of total offense, exploiting a Green Bay defense that will have to play much better in 2013 to have another chance at a Super Bowl run.
A rematch on the road in San Francisco will be a statement game for Green Bay in Week 1. If the Packers can walk away from Candlestick Park with one in the win column, they will once again prove they can beat any NFC team in the playoffs.
Baltimore, New York and Pittsburgh in Week 16 should all prove to be critical matchups as well.
The Giants are perennial playoff contenders, and despite a subpar finish in 2012, they should be back in the discussion this season as well, which makes that Sunday night clash one to watch. The Steelers also fall under that category, although an increasingly difficult AFC North will make advancing to the playoffs particularly difficult this year.