A Strict September Schedule Awaits a Young Packers team in 2017

Given how the 2016 season ended for the Green Bay Packers, it'd seem almost unfair to give the team a rigorous start to the following campaign.

However, that's exactly what was discovered via Thursday's NFL schedule release.

The Packers will open their season against the Seattle Seahawks and immediately prepare for a rematch with the Atlanta Falcons - the team they were picked apart for 60 minutes by in last year's NFC Championship. An upside is that the game against the Seahawks will be at home in week one, giving the Packers their first home-opener to start the season since 2012 and just their second since 2007 when they played the Philadelphia Eagles.

The matchup against the Falcons will be the fifth regular season game trip to Atlanta since 2010 for the Packers. It'll also be the first game in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, replacing the former Georgia Dome that housed the Falcons for over 24 years.

To some, the opening portion of the 2017 season may prove disastrous given its level of difficulty. Despite this, it's important to remember that the momentum a team finishes their prior campaign with doesn't always necessarily carry over into the following slate of games.

The Falcons dominated the NFL a season ago en route to an appearance in the Super Bowl, their first since 1999. The narrative of prolonged dominance by a team is an overplayed and rarely true one. The Panthers, for example, a fellow NFC South team that was in the Super Bowl in 2015. In an effort to defend their NFC title, they fell short of even making the playoffs. The same thing happened with the Ravens in 2013 who were actually coming off of a Super Bowl victory.

Not to say the Falcons won't repeat their success of 2016, but the Packers may enter under the Mercedes-Benz marquee as a more motivated and healthier team than they were at the end of January. Equipped personnel added to the roster via the draft is another factor to consider, as the crop this year is loaded on the defensive side of the ball.

A tough test to the season may be just the thing a young Packers team needs. A Packers team whose average age is 25.27 years old and has to be salivating at another chance to topple one of the NFC's best.

The Seahawks haven't had as much luck against the Packers as of recently, despite 2012's "Fail Mary" game, the 2014 season-opener in Seattle and the NFC Championship game at the culmination of the same season. Both trips to Lambeau Field in 2015 and 2016 have ended with the Packers winning by double digits.

Even with the Seahawks' sub-optimal play against the Packers recently, there's no underestimating Russell Wilson. Neither is there any underestimating of a defense who hasn't seemed to lose its touch, even with the potential trade talk with all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

A fast start to psyche out a young team, a rough test for a secondary whose pass defense ranked 31st in the league a year ago and a week eight bye. The Packers have to be at least somewhat pleased with their upcoming schedule, as they'll have a variety of opportunities to lick their wounds if the need to surfaced.

A slow start to the season or even a middle-of-the-road roadblock would likely hurt the Packers this time around. They've started 1-2 every year from 2012 through 2014, 3-0 in 2015 and 2-1 a season ago. Looking at games against the Seahawks, Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals in week three at Lambeau Field, it's difficult to gauge a prediction just where the Packers will end up by the end of September. They'll also finish the month on a short week from the Bengals game and face the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football for the second-straight season.

There isn't much that could've gone wrong with this year's schedule release after seeing how brutal of a regimen the Packers went through in 2016.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (20)

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NickPerry's picture

April 22, 2017 at 07:11 am

Defenses adjusted some to McCarthy's "11 Personal" and were able to slow it down for long stretches of games in 2015 & 16. Call it a coincidence, call it whatever you'd like, but the Packers offense finally started to click when Cook was healthy and back on the field. They were SO successful last season with a big fast TE back in the offense McCarthy and Ted went out and got TWO.

This will go a long ways in helping the Packers start faster this season. Throw in a Montgomery at RB with a full offseason of training and coaching for the position and you have a recipe for a offense that can be successful early, both running and passing the ball. Bennett and Kendricks won't need tons of time to "Gel" with Rodgers which I'm hoping turns into a potent offense from the start.

The Defense?? Well can they really be any worse than last season?? We'll find out very quickly this year if Randall and Rollins play last season was due to injuries or it was a sign to come. I think we land somewhere in between which might be good enough with that offense.

In the past it really hasn't mattered WHO the Packers play early, just that they start slow. Hopefully this year it doesn't matter WHEN or WHO we play, just that we play well from week one.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 22, 2017 at 07:29 am

Your optimism is impressive. 12 years with TT. 2 fast starts. Jus' sayin.

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NickPerry's picture

April 22, 2017 at 07:37 am

LOL, thank you. We have many of the same thoughts about Ted BM. But I have to remain optimistic before the Packers give me reason not to be. Yes Conner Barwin, Zack Brown, or even Michael Kendricks would give me all the more reason, but I have to look at what he's done this year and be happy he did anything at all.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 22, 2017 at 08:10 am

I suppose so. The only other option is to boycott the team until TT is fired or retires. But that's not doable for 2 reasons: 1. He's a good GM who has ignored how he could be an all time great GM. Mostly because he's uncomfortable wth risk. But he's still a good GM. Who knows if who we replaced him with would be better? 2. I love my GBP too much to boycott. ;)

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NickPerry's picture

April 22, 2017 at 08:29 am

Exactly...Thompson IS a good GM. We can go round and round about what Ted doesn't do, but the Packers are in the playoffs every year and are never in salary cap trouble. There's a lot to be said about that.

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croatpackfan's picture

April 22, 2017 at 09:38 am

Nick, do you know for sure that Packers or Ted Thompson did not contact Conner Barwin, Zack Brown and/or Michael Kendricks with offer? Maybe they did, and offers are declined, because those 3 players do not want to play for Packers for who knows what reason.
If happened what I wrote, do you think that both parties are be willing to go public, or they'll keep it under radar?
Just asking, because you are calling TT for not signing players you picked up as relevant. Maybe they are not for Packers. Maybe they believe in what they have on the roster. Or maybe those player was to expensive.
And, to not be misunderstood, I respect your football knowledge, just do not like calling people names with no clue what going behind closed doors.

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NickPerry's picture

April 22, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Do you know for sure he did? Given Thompson's history in Free Agency I think it's somewhat safe to say he didn't. But you're right, I don't know for sure. Just you don't know he did.

"Just asking, because you are calling TT for not signing players you picked up as relevant. Maybe they are not for Packers".

Now there were "Reports" the Packers contacted Barwin, but those reports weren't from the Packers, but sources who report on the Packers. More likely a move to drive up the cost. As far as being right for the Packers the only thing that wasn't "Right" was probably the money. Barwin is a 3-4 OLB so he is a "Fit".

Zack Brown was signed for 2.3 million, a $500,000.00 signing bonus, and just $700,000.00 guaranteed. IMO well worth the money, especially when you consider the last time the Packers had a ILB who could impact a game other than when Matthews moved there in 2014 was 2010 when they had Bishop. We all know what happened in 2010. Not to mention many saw Brown as a good fit for the Packers. He plays the run and Pass equally well. BTW... Brown had 4 sacks, 2 FF and an interception. That's more than Martinez, Ryan, and Thomas COMBINED.

Kendricks would never happen because he's too pricey. That's just one I personally would like to see in GB. We could have had his brother but took Randall instead. Awww POOP!!!

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NickPerry's picture

April 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Croat...Who exactly did I call a name? Please show me in my comment regarding where I called him a name. Just FYI..I don't do the whole name calling thing, I think just about anyone here would attest to that.

I'm a FAN Croat, just like you and everyone else here. I RESPECT everyone on this site, especially those who take time from their lives to post stories or thoughts for us. Furthermore I think it's great a fan from Croatia is here on CHTV. I don't know if you live there or the states, but I glad you're here, even if you don't like or agree with what I say.

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croatpackfan's picture

April 22, 2017 at 05:14 pm

Nick, I did not mean to say that you did it with the comment. But you are mentioning so often how TT do not make any moves in FA that I can not understand it differently than calling his name for doing nothing in FA. Also, I asked if those players fit Packers. I did not claim they did not. And fitting to some team of people means more than just knowledge of playing the position (e. g. there is many marketing experts, successful ones, but when organization pick guys, they are looking behind just knowledge of the position).
What I want to point out that we discuss here and posting our opinions, our views with lack of information. I agree that you, people lives in US are more informed than me, following Packers from other side of the world, but still, neither of us do not know how TT doing his job. Why? Because he is not talking about that. Packers are very "conservative" with sharing their information about their business.
And when things come out sporadically (like when Lang explained from what position TT start his negotiations - remember that?) we can see glimpse of the way how he is working. If you ask me, I will hire him immediately for my company. That is the way to do business. be good with everybody but, keep them in dark... No information(s).
So, calling TT that he is doing nothing on FA market is not correct. He is not signing expensive FA, but he bring back Packer FA and add some through FA. Every season!
That is what I want to point out!

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NickPerry's picture

April 23, 2017 at 06:51 am

Point taken. Let me also add I'm in favor of TT not adding in "The Expensive FA" in most cases. Adding a guy at $10 million a season for 3 years and $20 million guaranteed is a huge commitment and one where it doesn't work out much of the time. I'm in total agreement with you and many of the people who post here on that subject.

But there have been times where the Packers head into a season with players starting at positions where you KNOW, even as a fan from the sidelines the Packers could have done better than who they have on the field.

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chugwater's picture

April 22, 2017 at 01:19 pm

Make that 3 fast starts: 2007, 2011, and 2015.

Just one loss in 18 collective games thru the first six weeks of these seasons.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 23, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Right. I blocked out 2015 because the last half of the year was pretty ugly. Except for 3 glorious throws, our QB was in a big time slump.

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chugwater's picture

April 23, 2017 at 03:12 pm

I hear yah.

So here's a question I've been mulling over: What do you consider to be a 'fast start'? Obviously 6-0 or 5-1 would be good with 3-3 disappointing. How about 4-2? Would it depend on who we lost to?

Say we were 4-2 with losses to CIN and DAL, but won our games with CHI, ATL, SEA, and NWO.

How would you feel going into the middle part of the season.

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Since'61's picture

April 22, 2017 at 09:13 am

Let's remember that the schedule is only on paper. While the early schedule looks difficult we still need to play the games and we still have Aaron Rodgers and a very potent offense that will include new looks this season with Monty at RB and more two TE sets. Right now and depending on the teams health, my only concern out of the first four weeks is going to Atlanta to open their new stadium. As for the week 5 Dallas game we took the Cowboys on the road in the playoffs so I think we can do it again, depending on health and at least some improvement from our no tackling defense. I won't make any predictions until after the pre-season but this schedule with a mid-season bye could work well for the Packers. Our defense could not possibly be worse than last season, could it? Thanks, Since '61

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

April 22, 2017 at 11:40 am

I've learned that really, no schedule matters if Aaron Rodgers is your QB. I'm trying to stray from the "10-6/11-5 is inevitable" narrative, but that's become very realistic over the years. Every season is different, however.

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chugwater's picture

April 22, 2017 at 01:11 pm

Dallas still has that impressive offense, but it's important to note they lost a lot of players on defense due to free agency especially in the secondary. And they weren't that great to begin with. Marinelli really coached them up. He'll have an even tougher job in 2017 with a bunch of new and younger players.

I'll go with 4-1 thru the first five weeks.

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PatrickGB's picture

April 22, 2017 at 11:01 pm

This year we will be forced to win with "shootouts". I would not be surprised that with this porous defense we lose more than we win. I sure hope not yet would not be surprised. The loss of Peppers and Hyde coupled with the lack of speed by the corners will make winning any games to be a nail biter with the team who has the ball last come out as the winner. I hope its us.

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dobber's picture

April 23, 2017 at 07:33 am

It's starting to look that way (shootouts) but we're only about 1/3 of the way through the player procurement process. Draft and post-draft/post-Jun-1 cuts coming yet. I think we'll see some movement after the draft, yet.

I'm not all that worried about the loss of Hyde...I think they've got something in Brice and Evans, and they'll find someone who can contribute in the nickel/dime through the draft.

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Spock's picture

April 23, 2017 at 09:55 am

PatrickGB: I have to agree with dobber here: it's the time of year to be excited about new players coming in not pessimistic! Can't wait for Thursday!

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dobber's picture

April 23, 2017 at 03:35 pm

I can't wait, either. We've speculated this draft about to death. If there were a fast-forward button, I'd be hitting it like a rat looking for a treat.

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