In the NFL, not all games are created equal.
Schedules came out last night for the 2011-2012 NFL season, and fans everywhere immediately began dissecting their teams’ chances for the upcoming (hopefully) season.
I was no different. But as I was looking over the Packers’ schedule, I noticed that I kept gravitating toward a handful of games, games that I thought could make or break the Packers’ season.
Yeah, me too.
Call me the football George Orwell if you like, but on a schedule full of equally important games, some are more equal than others.
Here are the five most important games the Packers will play in 2011-2012:
Talk about opening with a bang.
Being the defending Super Bowl Champion brings with it a level of national exposure that even Packers fans may not be used to. The Packers will play four nationally televised games next season, including their opener against the New Orleans Saints.
This matchup of the last two Super Bowl Champions features two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, and could be an early preview of the NFC Championship game. Rodgers will enter the season in poll position to win his first NFL MVP, and Brees will hope to rebound from a season that saw him throw 22 interceptions, the most of his career.
The Packers will be looking to make a big opening statement, and with all eyes focused squarely on this game, they’ll have their chance.
A win here will send a statement to the rest of the league that the Packers are ready to repeat in 2012.
I think the Packers will enter this game 4-0. I also think they will have a buzzsaw waiting for them in the Atlanta Falcons.
We all remember that beautiful thrashing the Packers gave to the Falcons in the divisional round of last season’s playoffs. Problem is, I suspect the Falcons remember as well.
Atlanta made its reputation last season for dominating opponents at the Georgia Dome, and losing in such spectacular fashion will undoubtedly mean the Falcons will play this game with a large chip on their shoulder.
The Packers can escape this one with a win, but they will need big games from No. 12 and their defense to do so.
The game coming off a bye week is always dangerous in my mind. Sure, your team is well rested and injuries have had a chance to heal, but you also must shake off any rust that may have formed during the long break.
The San Diego Chargers won’t give Green Bay much chance to ease their way back.
For reasons beyond my understanding, the 2010 San Diego Chargers finished last season as the No. 1 overall offense and defense, yet still missed the playoffs. Yes, you read that right.
The 2011 Chargers are once again stacked on both sides of the ball, and are almost guaranteed to improve upon a season that can only be described as a statistical anomaly.
The Packers will need a strong effort in all three facets of the game if they want to leave Southern California with a victory and momentum for the second half of the season.
Thanksgiving Day is surely the best day of the year to enjoy football. Luckily, the Packers play in the early game so the likelihood of me being comatose from tryptophan is much lower. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that this game will be the Packers third in 11 days. I could probably write 1,000 words on the irresponsibility of whoever decided that was a good idea, but that would just be sour grapes.
The other bad news is that I am officially worried about playing the Lions. Packers’ fans no doubt remember the disaster game last year in Detroit. The Lions’ defensive line totally dominated our O-line, and of course Rodgers went down with his second concussion of the season.
This year’s Detroit Lions are on my list of under-the-radar playoff contenders, and if the Packers come in to this game banged up or lacking energy, they will almost certainly leave with a loss.
The minute I saw this game, I knew what I wanted for Christmas.
You must’ve known that a Packers-Bears matchup would find its way onto this list. How could it not?
Here’s a fun fact: the 2011-2012 Green Bay Packers will be the first NFL team in history to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day in the same season.
Hopefully by the time this game kicks off the Packers will already have a playoff spot (as well as a first round bye and home field advantage) wrapped up, or people like myself will spend Christmas morning taking oxygen along with opening presents.
Packers-Bears games are always a highlight of the NFL season, but this year I am especially excited because of one indisputable fact.
The Packers are absolutely, positively, 100 percent, no doubt about it going to whip the Bears all over the field. Twice.
It’s a great time to be a Packers fan.