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Packers Face Tough Road in 2017

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Packers Face Tough Road in 2017

The Green Bay Packers have known their 2017 schedule for some time.  Head coach Mike McCarthy is as regimented as they come when talking about routine and preparation.  One of the biggest challenges coaches face in the NFL is keeping their team in somewhat of a routine on the road.

In looking at those teams who will host the Packers this season, the combined 2016 record was 62-66, a .484 overall mark.  That average is surely dragged down by the Cleveland Browns 1-15 record but it's also worth noting that the Packers will travel to face four teams who were in last year's playoffs.  Much can and has changed since last season but that still appears to toughen the challenge Green Bay will face away from home.

Green Bay travels to Atlanta to face the Falcons in week two.  For those players who find motivation in a chance to avenge a tough loss, this one comes nice and early, with a twist.  The Falcons will be christening their brand new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in this game.  

This marks the second-straight year that the Packers have been the first opponent in a new venue.  Last season, Green Bay faced the Minnesota Vikings in the first game at U.S. Bank Stadium.  With the Falcons coming off of a heart-breaking loss in Super Bowl LI, the team and their fans should be plenty fired up.  Unfair that the Packers are tapped to play this role a second year in a row?  Maybe, but they've been a top revenue draw for opposing teams for many years.  No surprise the schedule worked out this way.

Three weeks later, the Packers will find themselves back in Dallas to face the Cowboys in a rematch of the divisional round playoffs.  The image of Jared Cook's sideline catch and Mason Crosby's field goal hooking inside the uprights is probably still on the minds of the Cowboys.  Dallas is 0-3 at home against the Packers but they certainly don't want to have to come to Lambeau Field in January again.  They'll bring some extra effort to ensure a win and any tie breaker that may come into play.

The very next week, Green Bay is in Minnesota.  Divisional games are never a given.  The Vikings absolutely imploded last season and were officially eliminated at the hand of the Packers on Christmas Eve.  How improved is Minnesota coming into 2017?  A big win over the Packers early in the season might help answer that question.  Road wins in the division are always important en route to a divisional title.

By week six, the Packers may have played their toughest three games of the season.  Two weeks after that, they get a bye week.  The first road game post-bye is at Chicago.  The schedule suddenly looks a little easier, on paper.

The next road game that stands out is the Thanksgiving weekend game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers are expected to be top contenders in the AFC and by that time should be at full throttle.  The talks of a Super Bowl XLV rematch are in the rear view mirror by now so that angle is a reach, but both teams get an opportunity to notch a quality win in late November.  For the Packers, a big road win.

A visit to Cleveland comes next and despite how bad the Browns were in 2016, they may be a more worthy opponent than first thought.  That is, of course, if they have finally figured out who the quarterback is.  The next week, the Packers are in Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers.  Carolina took a huge step back last season after a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.  If healthy, they could creep back into the NFC race.  

The last road game is at the Detroit Lions for a second year in a row.  This comes on New Year's Eve so who will be partying afterwards?  Last season, this match up decided the NFC North.  The Lions always seem to play the Packers tough in Detroit so regardless of how good or bad they are, this one is never a gimme.  

Getting some of the tougher games early in the season could benefit Green Bay if some of their opponents are still shaking off the cobwebs.  If Carolina and Detroit are struggling late, the Packers may not get a solid road test down the stretch.  Of course, it may not matter if the Packers can do what they always set out do to: pave a road to the Super Bowl that goes through Green Bay.  That path, as it seems now, won't be an easy one to carve.

-- Jason is a freelance writer and has been on staff since 2012.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

Not an easy schedule, especially early on, but at least the bye week is mid-season this year.

One possibly good result of a tough start is that it gives the younger guys a good idea of what it will take to beat the better teams. That is valuable come playoff time.

Lphill's picture

The Packers should look at every game as a potential win , I don't think any opposing team wants to see the Packers on their schedule .

RCPackerFan's picture

The motto for the team should be Respect everyone, Fear no one!

IMO, this schedule this year is much better then last years schedule in terms of how its laid out.

Last year they started the season with 4 road games in a row (counting the last 2 preseason games). The last of which was the Vikings home opener in their new stadium. They had the early week 4 bye. After the bye they had 3 home games (2-1 in that stretch) then had 4 of the next 5 on the road (1-4 in that stretch).

This year is much better. They have back to back away games twice this year and no more then 2 away games in a row. They have the week 8 bye which is a huge help this year.

While they have tough opponents this year, There isn't a non winnable game, and they should go into each week expecting to win. Respecting the opponents yet not fearing them.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm just hoping for a the Packers to have a fast start and be healthy or at least relatively healthy from September to January. As long a they stay healthy the Packers will play with anybody in the NFL.
Really looking forward to the Dallas game. I really hate the Cowboys and IMO don't see how they can play with GB. Losing 4 of their top 5 secondary players in FA including both safeties and playing a offense like GB that early won't bode well for Jerry. I'll be looking forward to seeing Jerry have that stupid look on his face when the Girlz get beat down. Every time I see that idiot I can't believe he's in the HOF and Jerry Kramer isn't!! What the hell is REALLY going on!

RCPackerFan's picture

'I'm just hoping for a the Packers to have a fast start and be healthy or at least relatively healthy from September to January. As long a they stay healthy the Packers will play with anybody in the NFL.'

Isn't that the truth.

Each of the last 2 years we suffered major injuries to 2 of our top players (Nelson, Shields) that essentially the team wasn't able to overcome.
And in each of the last 2 years injuries played a huge part in why the team lost in the playoffs.
Against Arizona during that miraculous comeback to tie the game, on the TD catch Janis was hurt and they were down to 2 WR's left. McCarthy is on record saying that had Janis not been hurt he would have went for 2. Maybe they wouldn't have won, but they never had a chance to touch the ball after that.
Leading up to the Falcons game, Nelson had broken ribs, the game prior Adams suffered a bad sprained ankle and during the week Allison pulled his hamstring. Going into the favorites home without 3 of their top 4 WR's, definitely did the offense no favors.

I definitely agree with you that if they can stay healthy they can play with anyone.

Tundraboy's picture

Thanks NP. You got me back in football mode!

"Every time I see that idiot I can't believe he's in the HOF and Jerry Kramer isn't!! "

JJ paid his way in, directly or indirectly. Ugh

Handsback's picture

A schedule like this will test the young team early. I suspect that Green Bay will do OK early, they will probably have a let down in the middle somewhere (The Bengals) and start their late season surge.
It really doesn't matter when they play these teams....they have to make the playoffs and beat the team in front of them in order to advance. The teams we think will be strong, may be the teams that become push-overs this year. One game at a time.
One last thought...most every team that has lost the SB, has collapsed the next year. Will the Falcons be the next team to do so especially the way they lost?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think it does matter when we play these apparently tougher teams. I expect GB to have an unusually high number of players who weren't on the team last year, and a far higher number of major contributors and starters who weren't with the team last year. Off the top of my head, Evans, Bennett, Kendricks, J. Williams, and to a lesser extent, perhaps the 5th WR, on offense. On D, House, King and Josh Jones, along with RJF.

Bert's picture

The schedule itself is pretty secondary. Every team will have challenges with the schedule. No easy path to the SB so you just gotta be ready to win every week regardless of who, when or where you're playing.

PatrickGB's picture

On paper this schedule is much tougher than last years schedule was supposed to be. We were out of sync and it took an Aaron "run the table" remark and MM scheme change to right the ship. Also, as noted, injuries played a huge role. The year to be the best we have to beat the best. We have the tools to do that, now all that's needed is the will.

Since '61's picture

Last season we supposedly had the softest schedule in the league and we know how that worked out. As for 2017 our offense can score against anyone. As usual it will be our defense which is the area for concern. Week 2 in Atlanta will be an early test of whether or not our defense has made any progress from 2016. It's too soon to tell but I'm thinking that our secondary, particularly our CBs will be improved. My bigger concern at this point is for our front 7 and our pass rush. Much of the DL, except for Daniels is questionable and we're still very thin at OLB. Maybe TT has another move up his sleeve to solidify OLB before the end of the preseason. We'll see. Like everyone else here I'm happy the bye comes at midseason this year. 16 games without a break last season put too much stress on everyone's body with no chance to heal and recover. The league should consider moving all bye weeks between weeks 6-9. It would be better and more fair to the teams and players but the league would lose too much of their weekly TV schedule. Maybe the players could bargain for a more equitable bye schedule as part of their next CBA. It could support players health and create a better on field product. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

Divisional scheduling is part of the problem in determining how weak or strong a schedule is perceived to be. As '61 noted, the Packers schedule was supposed to be weak with the AFC South and NFC East on tap, but those divisions turned out to play better than expected when it was all said and done. Who did they play the previous year? Did those divisions beat up on them and make THEM look poor?

Just play the games. The good teams will be good...the bad teams will be bad...and the mediocre will either have their records slightly inflated or slightly deflated based on the quality of division on the schedule.

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