Green Bay Packers Schedule: Three games to mark on the calendar

Every game matters in the NFL, but some more than others. Three games, in particular, stand out for the Green Bay Packers in 2019.

The NFL schedule has been out for over a month, but much has changed in that time. The start of the regular season is still a ways away, but with the bulk of free agency and the NFL Draft now over, the 2019 landscape for the Green Bay Packers is starting to come into focus. With 94 days until the start of the regular season, let’s take a look at the three most important games to mark on the calendar:

Week 1: At Chicago Bears (September 5th)

Being the kickoff game to the NFL regular season, Green Bay and Chicago in week one is an obvious game to circle on the calendar. But that’s not why this game is an important one, nor is it because of the historic rivalry of this matchup.

Why it’s a must watch

Two factors make this game a much watch. First, many questions have circled both teams this offseason. This matchup will be our first opportunity to search for those answers. There are always question marks surrounding a team heading into a year with a new head coach. Green Bay’s new man in charge, Matt LaFleur, also happens to be a first-time head coach. How will LaFleur handle his first head coaching gig in the NFL? What will his offense look like and how will Aaron Rodgers buy in? Has an aggressive offseason solved the team’s defensive woes? It may take weeks, months even, to answer these questions entirely, but no doubt, first impressions are essential.

This game is also uber vital because it has the potential to set the tone for the remainder of the season. Now, the word potential should be noted here. As evidenced by these two teams’ week one matchup last season, a week one game no matter how dramatic the outcome does not always embody an entire season. So take this next bit with a grain of salt.

Coming off of back to back mediocre seasons, Green Bay is looked upon by many as a bounce-back candidate in 2019. But several red flags – including a young and inexperienced coaching staff, increased competition level in the division, and injury concerns with Aaron Rodgers – are cause for concern in Green Bay this season.

Momentum is everything

Aside from gaining the divisional edge, beating Chicago would be a tremendous start out of the blocks for LaFleur and his staff. So much of success in the NFL revolves around which teams find momentum at the right moments.

For a team like the New England Patriots, fast starts are not imperative of a successful season. We have seen them struggle year after year in September and October, only to turn it on towards the end of the season. Everything in Foxborough is about the postseason and championships, rendering the early months of the NFL season meaningless.

Green Bay, however, is not at the level of New England. Yes, the Packers have one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the NFL. But the majority of the roster has had very little success in the league. Green Bay needs a fast start out of the gates to inject confidence and validity in the LaFleur regime.

Both teams will look to make an early-season statement in this game. For Chicago, they want to show that their division crown last season was not a fluke. And for Green Bay, they will look to show the world that they are back to prominence.

Week 8: At Kansas City Chiefs (October 27th)

Week 8 is a perfect opportunity for a road test for Green Bay. After Chicago in week one, only two out of the next six opponents they face made the playoffs a season ago.

The Denver Broncos in week 3, the Detroit Lions in week 6, and the Oakland Raiders in week 7 are all extremely winnable games. It will likely take Denver more than three weeks into the season to settle into their new quarterback situation which will grant Green Bay a significant advantage. And while Detroit and Oakland both possess elite talent at several positions, the two organizations are too dysfunctional to rely on. There are a few early testers sprinkled in the schedule as well; the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys, but the first seven games as a whole are very workable.

The early schedule will allow Green Bay the ability to experiment with the roster, find their identity, and hopefully gain more momentum. By week 8, most of the questions posed earlier will be answered. And while the team will be nowhere near a finished product by this point in the season, we will start to get an idea of if this team is a legitimate contender or not.

Insert the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were an overtime period away from the Super Bowl last season and will likely be in contention once again in 2019, making this week eight matchup a real tester for Green Bay.

Why it’s intriguing

This game will be intriguing on many levels. For the casual NFL fan who doesn’t have a horse in the race, it will be the quarterback battle the league has been waiting for; Rodgers vs. Mahomes. Rodgers’ play has defined the 2010 decade and is widely considered the most talented quarterback to play the game. But in just one season, Patty Mahomes’ stock has quickly risen to contend for that title. His mobility, arm strength, and ability to extend the play rival only one quarterback in the history of the league; Aaron Rodgers.

For fans of the Packers, this game will be an excellent litmus test to compare how LaFleur’s offense stacks up against one of the most potent offenses the league has seen. Love him or hate him, by the end of Mike McCarthy’s reign in Green Bay, the Packers offense looked incredibly predictable and archaic. Had these two teams matched up a season ago, there would have been a stark contrast in the two offenses.

LaFleur will bring a new school offense to the Pack

LaFleur was on Sean McVay’s staff two years ago and embraces a lot of the new school concepts that both McVay and Andy Reid have popularized. Green Bay’s offense won’t be a one to one of Kansas City’s, but it should look a lot closer than in year’s past. How effective will it be and what will it look like next to Reid’s offense? We will find out in week 8.

Finally, this game will be used as a barometer for how effective Green Bay was at loading up the defense this offseason. Right now in June, the moves Brian Gutekunst has made this offseason look fantastic on paper. But that means absolutely nothing until it translates on the field.

Even if the defense comes out the first seven games of the season and plays well, it means little until they match up with Kansas City. A team doesn’t put as much money, or emphasis on one side of the ball as the Packers have this offseason unless they are trying to compete for a championship right away. Shutting down Detroit or Dallas’ offense is encouraging, but if they cannot at least hang with and contain a Super Bowl level offense like the Chiefs, then all that offseason spending was for not.

Week 17: At Detroit Lions ( December 29th)

Green Bay has plenty of more exciting matchups this season than with the Detroit Lions. But this game is less about the team and more about the timing. The bottom line for Green Bay: No matter how well they play in 2019, it’s going to be hard for them to get into the playoffs. Not only does the NFC North have three legitimate playoff contenders, but the NFC as a whole is stacked. It may very well take the full 17 weeks to crown a division champion, and there could be several teams still battling for a wildcard week during the final regular season week.

Detroit isn’t a team that is expected to be in contention at this point in the season, but their roster is built perfectly to play spoiler. Let’s not forget, Matthew Stafford was a number one overall pick and at has best can hang with any quarterback in the league. The consistency hasn’t been there, but if Green Bay catches him at the wrong time, it could put their season in serious jeopardy.

Share your thoughts with me

This list is of course, not objective. There are several games with a case for being more significant than the ones I have chosen. Where was I right, and where was I wrong? Which games are you most looking forward to in 2019? Follow me @KnipferEthan on twitter to let me know. And also follow @PFN365 to stay up to date with all the latest stories from around the NFL.

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