Packers Schedule 2019: Can Green Bay Win the NFC This Season?

Throughout the first six games of the NFL season, the Green Bay Packers have done an admirable job of flying under the radar. With the New England Patriots winning their first six games of the season and the San Francisco 49ers off to their best start in 29 years, attention has been hard to come by.

Even discounting the 49ers for a second, most of the headlines in the NFC have rightly been hogged by the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson's MVP-in-waiting-like performances.

Like the Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints, the Packers are 5-1—the joint-best third in the entire league behind the Patriots and 49ers—and are odds-on to make the postseason for the first time in three years.

According to projections from FiveThirtyEight, the Packers have a 74 percent chance to make the playoffs and a 51 percent chance to win the NFC North for the first time since 2016.

Those figures received a healthy boost on Monday night, when Mason Crosby's field goal as time expired gave the Packers a 23-22 win over the Detroit Lions, snapping a four-game losing streak against their NFC North rivals in the process.

Make that FIVE-STRAIGHT Monday Night Football wins for @AaronRodgers12 and the @packers! 👏 #GoPackGo

— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2019

With the Oakland Raiders set to visit Lambeau Field, Wisconsin, in Week 7, the Packers could feasibly move to a 6-1 record, which would be their best record since 2015.

The Packers' strength of schedule—as calculated by their opponents' combined winning percentage last year—ranks mid-table in the league at .504.

Of the other three NFC North teams, only the Lions have an easier schedule, with the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings' strength of schedules coming in at .520 and .512 respectively.

Green Bay then travels to Kansas City and Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Both trips looked like very difficult tests before the season began, but the picture has changed somewhat.

The Chiefs remain top of the AFC West but have lost back-to-back home games against Indianapolis and Houston, looking worryingly soft against the run on both occasions.

Kansas City gave up 180 rushing yards against the Colts and 192 yards on the ground against the Texans and are allowing 406 total yards and 24 points per game on average.

Meanwhile, in each of the last three weeks the Packers have had a player rushing for over 100 yards—Davante Adams in Week 4, Aaron Jones in Week 5 and Jamaal Williams on Monday night against the Lions.

The trip to Los Angeles in Week 9 no longer seems as daunting as it did, with the Chargers languishing at the bottom of the AFC West with a 2-4 record which includes three losses at home.

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers #12 and Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on October 14 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dylan Buell/Getty

A bye in week 11 follows a home game against the Panthers, before back-to-back road games in San Francisco and New Jersey.

If the matchup against the 49ers is arguably the hardest test left on Green Bay's schedule—at least on current form—the game against the Giants shouldn't carry too many risks.

After winning on the road just once last season—and that only came in Week 16 against the New York Jets—the Packers have already won in Chicago and Dallas this season.

A home game against the 1-5 Washington Redskins precedes the three divisional matchups that close the regular season, with Green Bay hosting the Bears before traveling to Minneapolis and Detroit.

The final three games could go a long way in deciding which NFC North teams make the playoffs, but it's worth noting Green Bay has already defeated its three divisional rivals this season.

Aside from the Seahawks and the Saints, the Packers could arrive into the postseason having played each team they could come across in the NFC playoffs and at the moment they're well placed to secure home-field advantage.

If the schedule is relatively kind to the Packers, their roster depth makes for a much more worrying reading.

Against both Dallas and Detroit, the Packers had just four completions to their receivers—the game against the Cowboys was the first time in 18 years the Packers had recorded a win despite such a limited contribution from their wideouts.

Davante Adams has missed the last two games and Geronimo Allison left the game in the third quarter on Monday night, leaving Green Bay short of two of their three starting receivers.

While both wins speak volumes of Aaron Rodgers' ability to improve players around him, the Packers need their receiving corps to get healthy as quick as possible.

Green Bay fixed its defense during the offseason—Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith have combined for 13 sacks so far, more than Clay Matthews and Nick Perry did in the whole of last season—but will have to bolster the options at Rodgers' disposal next year.

For now, however, trade and signing speculations can wait as the Packers' sight is firmly towards the playoffs.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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