The Philadelphia Eagles will begin the Kevin Kolb era against the Green Bay Packers. A storyline worth watching throughout the game is two quarterbacks (Kolb and Aaron Rodgers) whom impressed their coaching staffs enough in practice to drive out franchise legends (Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb). The Eagles were a playoff team last year and lost in the Wild Card round although that was with McNabb under Center. Philadelphia will definitely be a hostile environment although that anger could turn to Kolb if he fails to impress early. This is a very winnable game for the Packers.
Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, September 19)
The Bills have been the perennial cellar dwellers of the AFC East in recent years and that trend is likely to continue in the 2010 season. The Bills could start Brian Brohm at quarterback after signing him off of Green Bay’s practice squad last season. Brohm was a huge disappointment in Green Bay and won’t scare a defensive coordinator. In the draft the Bills added the dangerous running back, C.J. Spiller however with no QB it should be easy to check the explosive rookie. This game should be a blowout.
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears (Monday, September 27)
The Bears have always given the Packers trouble at Soldier Field. Despite not having any high draft picks the Bears were able to add to their team during free agency. Most notable is the addition of DE Julius Peppers. Peppers could easily penetrate a Packers offensive line that gave up a league high 50 sacks last season. However, as long as Aaron Rodgers can keep getting the ball out quickly and Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher remain healthy the Packers should be able to deal with Peppers. The Bears still don’t have any true threats at wide receiver and so long as tight end Greg Olsen is kept in check the Packers should be able to come away with a win. Brian Urlacher will return from injury and he along with Peppers should vastly improve the Bears defense yet neither Urlacher nor Peppers can cover receivers down the field and the Bears secondary is very weak.
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, October 3)
The Packers easily handled the Detroit Lions in both meetings last season however, quarterback Matthew Stafford will be entering his second NFL season and could drastically improve. The Lions added wide receiver Nate Burleson and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch via free agency and Ndamakong Suh and Jhavid Best in the draft. The Lions could vastly improve in the 2010 season however; the Packers should still be able to easily handle Detroit at home.
Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins (Sunday, October 10)
The Washington Redskins won the Donovan McNabb lottery – now it remains to be seen what they can do with the winnings. The Redskins are very different team than they were last season. The Redskins’ have added Mike Shanahan as coach and have switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme. It remains to be seen how the transition will develop as Albert Haynesworth has skipped team activities because of the switch and the former all-pro player could be miscast. The Redskins backfield looks like a retirement home right now containing Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis, and Willie Parker – all look to share carries as their legs wear out. This game should offer an interesting road test for the Packers but one that a team with Super Bowl aspirations should handle easily.
Miami Dolphins vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, October 17)
Week 6 is the beginning of a four week stretch that will likely define the Packers in the upcoming season and determine whether or not the Green and Gold are truly worthy of the off season praise being given to them. The Dolphins bring the wildcat formation to town which should present some interesting challenges for Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers. The packers saw little action against wildcat type formations last year so it remains to be seen how these types of packages are handled by the defense. However, this could be a year of transition for the Dolphins – Ronnie Brown is coming off a major injury and it remains to be seen if he can return to form, Ricky Williams isn’t exactly young either. With the potential demise of the Dolphins running game, their pass attack could become the basis of the Dolphins offense for years to come. Chad Henne looked promising in action last year and having all-pro receiver Brandon Marshall should drastically improve an almost non existent passing attack from last year. The Miami game should be an interesting game but one that any playoff team needs to win at home and given the though three games following.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, October 24)
Given the uncertainty of the Brett Favre situation with the Vikings I will offer an analysis of Favre-less and Favre lead Vikings. This is with Favre analysis. The Minnesota Vikings are two time defending NFC North Champions and for the Packers to have any realistic shot at a deep postseason run they will need to at the very least split the series with Minnesota. Last year both games were much closer than they appeared to be and both games came before the Packers strong run over the last eight weeks of the season. Left tackle Chad Clifton missed both games as and the Packers were constantly shuffling offensive line duties. The Packers now have assurance should Clifton get injured with the drafting of Bryan Bulaga. Stabilization on the offensive line is the most important change for the Pack going into the game. Look for Jermicheal Finley to exploit a Vikings’ defense that has a history of being weak at Tight End. Minnesota’s secondary remains a question mark given injuries to starting corners Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield. For the packers to stop the Minnesota offense, a consistent pass rush needs to be established in order to force Favre to make quick decisions and force him to throw to covered receivers. In order for a team to beat the Vikings, they must exploit Minnesota’s turnovers.
Green Bay Packers vs. New York Jets (Sunday, October 31)
The New York Jets figure to be a primary player in the AFC this season and most of it stems from their solid defense. Watching Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson should be entertaining for fans as the Defensive Player of the Year (Woodson) and runner-up (Revis) slug it out. The Jets talent in the Jets secondary is simply astonishing, the Jets added Antonio Cromartie in the off season and Boise State standout Kyle Wilson in the draft if the Packers hope to use their passing attack in this game then it will be imperative that guys like James Jones and Jordy Nelson step up to the plate. The Jets run defense is standout too and Ryan Grant will have to work for all of his yards. On the offensive side of the ball the Jets have added LaDainian Tomlinson who despite not being the threat he once was can still find the end zone. Tomlinson figures to share carries with the up and coming Shonn Greene. Mark Sanchez figures to remain someone they look to “manage the offense” although could improve upon his rookie campaign. The Jets passing game is their only weak spot as Sanchez’s most respectable target is Braylon Edwards. Look for a low scoring game it will be critical for the defense to put points on the board as the offensive unit will have an extremely difficult job reaching the end zone.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, November 7)
The Dallas Cowboys return to Lambeau Field for another match up. Last season the Dallas game really turned the Packers season around after the devastating loss at Tampa Bay. The only major change made by the defending NFC East Champions is the addition of wide receiver Dez Bryant in the draft. Bryant looks to be the number two option in Dallas opposite Miles Austin, which could upon up opportunities for Roy Williams as a slot receiver. Tony Romo remains dangerous and the defense is still very solid. This game figures to be similar to last season when both squads struggled to gain yards and generated few points. The packers will have the home field advantage though and Dallas has always found wins rare to come by in Green Bay. Stopping DeMarcus Ware will be key to gaining yards against the Dallas defense.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, November 21)
Coming off a late bye week the Packers should be healthy and focused to play in Minnesota. (Earlier we covered the Vikings assuming Favre returns – in this portion the assumption is that Favre does not return). Without Brett Favre, Tavaris Jackson figures to be the starting quarterback for the Vikings which is needless to say a substantial change. However, unlike Favre, Jackson can make plays with his legs which could present a challenge to the Packers defense. The always dangerous Adrian Peterson remains in the backfield and will be the focus of the offense without Favre. Peterson struggled to find yards against the Packers defensive front last season and has always been prone to put the football on the ground. Without Favre playing the Packers should be able to sweep the Vikings however the games will remain close. In the end the Aaron Rodgers is leagues ahead of Jackson and it will show especially in the fourth quarter.
Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, November 28)
The Packers face Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome a game that could potentially features two of the next great NFL quarterbacks. The Atlanta offense is potent with Michael Turner running the ball and Roddy White as wide receiver, the always dangerous Tony Gonzalez gives Matt Ryan a nice check down option. Although the Atlanta defense is without stars it has plenty of solid players who understand their roles and play smart. Atlanta is a dangerous team and could be a trap game coming off of Minnesota. This is a game the Packers should win however it would not be surprising if the Packers lost.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, December 5)
Last season the 49ers game was ugly for Green Bay. Although the Packers won the game it was something of a Pyrrhic Victory as Al Harris and Aaron Kampman were both lost to season ending injuries in the game. Kampman is gone now and it will crucial for the Packers to find someone to contribute in that spot. Brad Jones preformed well last year but leaves much to be desired. The 49ers have built themselves to run the football and Green Bay is likely to see a heavy dose of Frank Gore. With the 49ers comes Alex Smith, and the whole game 49ers fans will likely become depressed watching Aaron Rodgers play for the Packers. The 49ers appear to be favorites in the NFC West however San Francisco is not on the same level as a healthy Green Bay team.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions (Sunday, December 12)
This game has the potential to mean much or little at all at this point in the season Green Bay could be playing for playoff seeding while Detroit could actually hold a shot at postseason berth or the lions could be playing for nothing in December as is usually the case and the Packers could simply roll through town. The latter scenario is far more likely however Detroit could be playing for pride and any number of wins for the Lions is something to feel good about for the franchise. This is another potential trap game as Green Bay could be caught looking ahead to their primetime showdown in New England.
Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots (Sunday, December 19)
The New England dynasty is on the decline. The defense is full of new names with talent but few leaders and lots of potential that has yet to be filled the Patriots defense is full of question marks and question marks are usually exploited by a skilled quarterback. Tom Brady remains a very dangerous quarterback however Randy Moss is no longer the player that he once was (although will be in a contract year which could make a big difference) and Wes Welker is returning from a devastating injury. New England is a good team but no longer a great team. If the Packers wish to become great than a primetime win at Gillette Stadium would do much to help them. Wins are hard to come by in New England but not as rare as years past.
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, December 26)
The New York Giants game has the potential to be a very important game for the NFC playoff picture. The Giants could be on the playoff bubble in the always close NFC East and the Packers could be looking for a better seed. If the Giants are still in playoff contention they will play hard and could win. However, absent a do or die scenario for New York the Packers should be able to win. The Giants defense is weak all over and the Packers will make it show, the Giants offense is capable but not spectacular. The Packers are much more talented than the Giants but come game time the Giants could be playing for much more.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday, January 2)
Something feels right about the Packers closing out the season host to the Bears. As much as Roger Goddell wanted to make the final games interesting and relevant this game figures to be fairly mediocre. The Bears will likely be playing for draft position and the only thing that could keep the game interesting is if the Packers playoff seed is not yet determined. All that said, the Packers are simply a better team than the Bears and should win the game and close out the season.
I predict to the Packers to finish the season 12-4 with their losses coming at Minnesota, at New England, at Atlanta, and I feel like either the Dolphins or the Cowboys could leave Green Bay with a win.