The Packers Football underwent an uncharacteristic change in 2019, switching coaches for the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career as a starter and switching up the offense that made him a superstar.
The result was a 13-3 season and run to the NFC Championship Game, which ended abruptly when the San Francisco 49ers running game gashed Green Bay’s front seven.
That frustrating conclusion to last season should, in theory, make the Packers one of the most motivated contenders in 2020 as they try to compete in the twilight of Rodgers’ prime.
With the schedule being released Thursday, here’s a look at the Packers’ chances of making another Super Bowl run.
Green Bay Packers Schedule
Week 1: vs Arizona Cardinals, Aug. 13-17, TBD
Week 2: vs Cleveland Browns, Aug. 20-24, TBD
Week 3: vs New York Giants, Aug. 27-30, TBD
Week 4: vs Kansas City Chiefs, Sept. 3-4, TBD
Week 1: vs Minnesota Vikings, noon, Sept. 13, Fox
Week 2: vs Detroit Lions, noon, Sept. 20, Fox
Week 3: vs New Orleans Saints, 7:20 p.m., Sept. 27, NBC
Week 4: vs Atlanta Falcons, 7:15 p.m., Oct. 5, ESPN
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3:25 p.m., Oct. 18, Fox
Week 7: vs Houston Texans, noon, Oct. 25, Fox
Week 8: vs Minnesota Vikings, noon, Nov. 1, Fox
Week 9: vs San Francisco 49ers, 7:20 p.m., Nov. 5, Fox/NFL Network/Prime
Week 10: vs Jacksonville Jaguars, noon, Nov. 15, Fox
Week 11: vs Indianapolis Colts, noon, Nov. 22, Fox
Week 12: vs Chicago Bears, 7:20 p.m., Nov. 29, NBC
Week 13: vs Philadelphia Eagles, 3:25 p.m., Dec. 6, CBS
Week 14: vs Detroit Lions, noon, Dec. 13, Fox
Week 15: vs Carolina Panthers, Dec. 19-20
Week 16: vs Tennessee Titans, 7:20 p.m., Dec. 27, NBC
Week 17: vs Chicago Bears, noon, Jan. 3, Fox
The Packers have a tough schedule ahead next season. They play in one of football’s best divisions in the NFC North, with four matchups against the Vikings and Bears—the latter team being a 2019 disappointment that’s looking for a turnaround this year.
In terms of common games, the NFC North got a mixed bag of the AFC South (easy) and NFC South (yikes). By virtue of winning their division, the Packers also have to play games against the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers—both of whom fashion themselves as Super Bowl contenders.
Here is the part where we discuss the Packers not being quite as good as their 2019 record would indicate. They outscored opponents by 63 points, which is much closer to a nine- or 10-win pace than 13 wins. The Houston Texans were the only “luckier” playoff team last season in terms of expected record versus actual record.
The overarching analysis here is that the Packers have to get better. Probably significantly. Aaron Rodgers was downright average for most of last season and never looked fully comfortable in Matt LaFleur’s system. The defense’s issues came up in the worst possible time, with the 49ers offering a blueprint other teams could follow in 2020.
This isn’t exactly revolutionary, but the team the Packers were last season is a wild-card squad at best.
Beat the Detroit Lions twice and go at least 3-1 against the AFC South, and the Packers are off to a 5-1 base start.
After that, it’s all about finding five extra wins to get to 10-6. Doing a home-road split with the Vikings would be big, as would be sweeping the Bears, who enter the season with a quarterback battle on their hands (Nick Foles vs. Mitch Trubisky).
Those games against the Vikings and Bears could be the difference between winning the division and missing the postseason altogether, or between a first-round bye and a Wild Card game.
Going 13-3 again versus this schedule would be no small feat. But beating up on the NFC North would certainly help their cause.
Record prediction: 10-6