Green Bay Packers Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
The path to a fourth straight NFC North title has been laid out for the Green Bay Packers.
The NFL officially released the 2014 schedule on Wednesday. The Packers now know the order of the 16 games they will have to navigate to win the division title for a fourth consecutive year—a feat Green Bay has never accomplished and one that hasn't been done since the NFC Central turned into the NFC North in 2002.
In addition to the six home-and-away games against the rest of the division, the Packers also play the AFC East and NFC South, plus slotted games against division winners from the NFC East and NFC West.
In the following slides, we'll provide way-too-early predictions for all 16 games on the Packers' 2014 schedule.
Week 1: At Seattle Seahawks
The officiating shouldn't play as big a factor this time around (or so we can all hope). What will factor in is the growth of Russell Wilson and the sustained dominance of the Seattle defense. Wilson was mostly held back in the meeting between these two in 2012, but Pete Carroll has since unleashed him—and the Seahawks are better for it. The defense remains the best in the business. A top quarterback plus an attacking defense plus the hardest stadium in the game to play in equals a season-opening loss for the Packers.
Prediction: Seahawks 28, Packers 16 (0-1)
Week 2: Vs. New York Jets
While only a one-game sample, the Jets mostly man-handled the Packers offense on a windy day in New York back in 2010. Four years later, the Jets still have most of the same pieces—a tough front seven and a ball-control offense—to pull off a similar trick. But, just like in 2010 (a 9-0 slugfest on a blustery New Jersey day), the Packers should again prevail—especially considering this round will be fought in Green Bay.
Prediction: Packers 17, Jets 13 (1-1)
Week 3: At Detroit Lions
The Lions laid the hurt on a Rodgers-less Packers team the last time these two met in Detroit. The 40-10 crushing on Thanksgiving Day ended a five-game slide for Detroit against Green Bay and seemingly gave the Lions an inside track at the division crown (which they promptly gave away, in epic fashion). Much closer this time around, but the Lions are still well-built to compete with Green Bay, especially at home on the fast track.
Prediction: Lions 35, Packers 31 (1-2)
Week 4: At Chicago Bears
You have to go back to 2010 to find the last time the Bears beat the Packers in Chicago. It took 18 penalties and two costly turnovers for Green Bay to give away that game. This time around, the Bears have the ammunition to take it for themselves. A loaded Chicago offense could overwhelm the Packers defense at home.
Prediction: Bears 34, Packers 27 (1-3)
Week 5: Vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings haven't beaten the Packers at Lambeau Field since their short-lived Favre days, which now seem like eons ago (it was actually 2009). Even without Aaron Rodgers available last season, Minnesota was only able to manage a tie—and that was after leading by double-digits in the second half. If Rodgers is in one piece, the Packers will continue their unbeaten streak against Minnesota in Green Bay.
Prediction: Packers 31, Vikings 17 (2-3)
Week 6: At Miami Dolphins
The Packers will take on former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin for the first time since he took over as Dolphins head coach in 2012. Philbin knows the ins-and-outs of the Dom Capers defense, meaning his offense should find ways to score. The Packers should put up points, too. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco combined to average 27.8 points per game against the Dolphins last season.
Prediction: Packers 30, Dolphins 27 (3-3)
Week 7: Vs. Carolina Panthers
Colin Kaepernick's late drive in the NFC Wild Card round prevented this matchup from taking place the following week. It's still an interesting clash for 2014. The worry for Green Bay here is the dominant nature of Carolina's front four and how frequently the Packers offense has struggled in these kind of matchups. The teams that play Aaron Rodgers best are the ones that can rush the quarterback all game with four players. Carolina can.
Prediction: Panthers 23, Packers 20 (3-4)
Week 8: At New Orleans Saints
There's nothing easy about going to New Orleans and leaving with a win. The Saints went a perfect 8-0 at home a season ago. And if you take away a somewhat fluky 2012 season, New Orleans is 17-0 at home since 2011, including playoffs. Drew Brees is the main reason why. In 2013, he threw 27 touchdowns against just three interceptions in New Orleans. The Packers probably can't contain him in his most comfortable setting.
Prediction: Saints 34, Packers 20 (3-5)
Week 10: Vs. Chicago Bears
The Packers haven't lost to the Bears at Lambeau Field with a healthy Aaron Rodgers under center. In fact, Green Bay likely would have run its home winning streak to six games against Chicago, had Rodgers not broken his collarbone on the first series last October. Different year, same story.
Prediction: Packers 28, Bears 20 (4-5)
Week 11: Vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles won a decisive decision over the Packers last season, just one week after Aaron Rodgers' collarbone snapped. How much is Rodgers really worth to this offense? We should find out. The Packers ran up 23 first downs and almost 400 yards of offense with Scott Tolzien under center versus Philly last year. Two turnovers ultimately swung the game. Rodgers probably doesn't make those same mistakes.
Prediction: Packers 28, Eagles 24 (5-5)
Week 12: At Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Rodgers has actually never bested a Mike Zimmer defense. He's 0-2 with just two touchdown passes and a passer rating of 73.5 over losses to the Bengals in both 2009 and 2013. Zimmer may eventually give him fits again, but not in year one. The Vikings defense doesn't yet have all the pieces in place to harass Rodgers like Cincinnati has in the past.
Prediction: Packers 30, Vikings 20 (6-5)
Week 13: Vs. New England Patriots
Mike McCarthy is 0-2 against Bill Belichick, and Aaron Rodgers didn't play the last time these two met (back in late 2010), so there's not a lot of historical precedent to use here. Beating the Patriots anywhere is a tough proposition, but the teams that have in recent years have controlled the game on offense and done just enough against Tom Brady on defense. With Aaron Rodgers and a versatile running game, the Packers have the pieces to do it, at least on offense.
Prediction: Packers 27, Patriots 21 (7-5)
Week 14: Vs. Atlanta Falcons
Which Falcons team arrives at Lambeau Field? The one a few yards from the Super Bowl in January of last year? Or the one who allowed 12 straight points in the second half to the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in December? The Falcons were a beat-up bunch for most of 2013, but this still feels like a team closer to four wins than the NFC title game.
Prediction: Packers 30, Falcons 20 (8-5)
Week 15: At Buffalo Bills
A prime time game in the Northeast could prove to be a daunting challenge. The Bills are a better team than many realize, especially if their quarterback play improves. At the very least, Green Bay could struggle to score against a defense that stopped the run and got takeaways in 2013. But Aaron Rodgers should make enough plays to get the Packers another win.
Prediction: Packers 21, Bills 17 (9-5)
Week 16: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs look like an ascending club, and their most likely starting quarterback—former Bears backup Josh McCown—even beat the Packers last October. But does Tampa Bay really have enough on offense to knock off a top team? The Bucs scored more than 21 points just six times last season. They'll need more than that to best Aaron Rodgers.
Prediction: Packers 23, Buccaneers 17 (10-5)
Week 17: Vs. Detroit Lions
History speaks for itself. The Lions haven't won in the state of Wisconsin since 1991, a stretch of 23 straight games. Every streak has to end, but the safest bet is to roll with this one extending another year. Another streak worth mentioning: Detroit hasn't won a game in December or January since 2011 (0-8). Packers close with an important win.
Prediction: Packers 27, Lions 20 (11-5)