Coming off of an underwhelming and injury plagued 10-6 season, the Green Bay Packers are heading into 2016 with high expectations. Green Bay lost to the Minnesota Vikings in week 17 last season which dropped the Packers to the wild card spot and gave the Vikings the division crown. This season though, with most of the roster healthy, the Packers are ready to make a run at Super Bowl 51 and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to “Titletown” The Packers have one of the easier schedules in the league and as long as they stay healthy, Aaron Rodgers and company should have no problem in earning an 8th consecutive playoff appearance. Predicting what will happen in a NFL season is something that’s nearly impossible. Everything changes from week to week and the parity is clearer in football than in any other sport. Which is why it’s the most popular sport in America. In this two part series, I pull out my genie lamp and try my best to predict the Packers final record come January.
You can view part one of my predictions here.
Week 10 – at Tennessee Titans
The ninth game of the 2016 season will see the Packers traveling to Nashville to do battle with Marcus Mariota and the Titans. Mariota was very average last season when playing at home. He threw for nine touchdowns, but also had nine interceptions which led to just one home win all season. Damarious Randall, Sam Shields, and Quinten Rollins are going to have the advantage in this matchup as the receiving corps isn’t a strength of Tennessee. On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans were bad on the left side of the field all season. They gave up 1574 passing yards to the left, compared to 1222 on the right. The Packers can capitalize on that by putting Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb on the left and attacking all throughout. Doing that will only open up more lanes for Eddie Lacy and will create big numbers all day. The Packers will leave this game with a generally easy win.
Week 11 – at Washington Redskins
A rematch of last season’s wild card playoff game, the Redskins will be looking for some revenge all November 16’. The score didn’t exactly show it, but last year’s game was a close one. Both teams were pretty much even in terms of total yards, but the Packers were able to gain the edge in the rushing game. They will be looking to do that again in this matchup, but they may struggle. This game will be a nationally televised Sunday Night meeting, so Washington will likely be pumped up for this rematch and their fans will be as well. The Redskins and their starting quarterback Kirk Cousins will have a lot to prove in trying to show they belong in the playoff race. I see this as one of the trap games on the schedule, and i think Washington will squeak out a big win here against Green bay.
Week 12 – at Philadelphia Eagles
Finishing up a tougher part of the schedule after playing 4 out of 5 straight games on the road, the Packers will travel to Philly for their only Monday Night Football appearance of this year. Philadelphia is a team in the middle of a semi-rebuilding phase and they aren’t expected to do a lot this season. The Eagles defense finished 28th in the league last year in team defense, so the Packers’ offense will be putting up some big numbers in this primetime game. Against teams that faced the Philly defense out of the shotgun, the Eagles defense was very bad. The Eagles gave up 25 touchdowns, and 6.4 yards per pass attempt against the shotgun last season. In later downs, they were even worse. In shotgun formations on second down, they gave up 1230 yards and on third down, they gave up 1382 yards. There will be a lot of no huddle offense in this game. Just how Aaron Rodgers likes and the Packers will have a good showing on Monday Night.
Week 13 – vs Houston Texans
Looking to kick off December the right way, the Packers welcome JJ Watt back to the state of Wisconsin in a game that will certainly be a good one. The Texans were a playoff team last season, and that was without a decent quarterback. This season they’ve added Brock Osweiler and surrounded him with offensive weapons in Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller plus top receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The offense is going to put pressure on Green Bay’s secondary all game and will be sure to put up some numbers. On the defensive side, Houston is pretty dangerous as well. The defensive front will put pressure on Rodgers all game and likely cause Green Bay to go into a no huddle, quick play type of play. This game will be a good one, but the Packers defense should be able to buckle down late to hang on and get the ninth win of the season.
Week 14 – vs Seattle Seahawks
The Packers only non-division rival will be coming into Green Bay to do battle for a third straight season. These two teams know each other very well and aren’t too fond of each other. When they met last year in week two, the Packers were focusing on quick and short passing plays to attack the Legion of Boom. They ran 23 short yardage passing plays which gained them 107 yards on those type of plays. Setting the tempo was also a big part of the game where Green Bay ran the no huddle 47% of the time. They should look for this attack again and wear the tough Seattle defense down in this cold, late season matchup. It’s going to be a tough game and both teams will be physical throughout. But much like last season, Green Bay will use their own “12th man” in their favor and come out with a big late season win.
Week 15 – at Chicago Bears
Heading into very familiar territory down at Soldier Field, the Packers will look to add onto what should be a top record in the NFC. This game will be considered a trap game in which the Bears will look to play the spoiler role and try their best to put a wrench in the Packers race for home field in the playoffs. The Packers always manage to play well in Chicago and I don’t think they will fall for the trap here. Mike McCarthy will have his guys focused for this division game and they should be able to do what they want here against the Bears. It will be cold and windy, so the run game will be important here and Eddie Lacy will have a nice game. The cheeseheads will leave the Windy City happy and with a win.
Week 16 – vs Minnesota Vikings
Week 2 when these teams meet, it’ll be the biggest game of the season for the Vikings. In week 16 when they meet, it’ll be the biggest game for the Packers. In my estimation, at this point the Vikings will be 10-4 and a game behind the Packers in the division race. In that scenario, if Minnesota were to win this game, they would take the division with the tie breaker. So Green Bay will need to win this game and will need a good performance to do it. In week 17 of last season’s game the Vikings did a great job taking away the quick throws by Green Bay. The Packers only averaged 5.3 yards per short throw attempt which made it really tough to move the ball. Barring injury, with Jordy Nelson in this game Green Bay should be able to regain the quick strikes and get the offense flowing. The Packers will take care of business here in a big game and take the driver’s seat in the race for the NFC North title.
Week 17 – at Detroit Lions
This game could result in a situation where we see the starters resting and not playing. That all depends on the seeding implications in the NFC, but let’s say the Packers need to win this one. I could see this game being a high scoring, shootout with the Lions looking to play the spoiler role much like the Bears in week 15. Last season, running out the shotgun the Lions put up 30 touchdowns total, which is a fairly good number. (To compare, the Packers had 39 last season) Putting that up against the Green Bay defense, who gave up 30 touchdowns while defending the shotgun will benefit Matthew Stafford and the Lions. They will certainly line up a lot in the shotgun and will likely have some level of success. I think the Lions will make it very tough on the Packers, but the time of possession will be key for Green Bay and they will have to control the game on the offensive end. It could go either way, but I think the Lions will manage to pull off the final game upset here in week 17.
Final Record: 12-4
This would put the Packers final record at 12-4, which should be good for a top record in the NFC. Regaining their position at the top of the conference will be the main goal for the team this year and i think they should be able to do that. Aaron Rodgers will have a MVP type of season with the luxury of having all of his toys back. The defense might have a rough start to the season with a couple of suspensions on the front line, but they should be able to improve throughout the season and finish with a top 15 defense. The Packers football we have all come to know will return and a deep run in the playoffs will definitely be expected in this 2016 season.
Once again, if you missed part one you can view that here.