Path Doesn't Look Too Daunting for Packers

The Packers are 1-2 but they're not in bad position, thanks to a surprisingly weak NFC and a "tough" schedule that has crumbled. It's just the latest example of how quickly things can change in the NFL.

The Green Bay Packers, after coughing up a pair of fourth-quarter leads, could certainly be in better position coming off of their bye week.

They also could be in much worse position with their 1-2 record.

The NFC was expected to reign supreme this season but the AFC has turned the tables in shocking fashion. The NFC's loss has been Green Bay's gain. Only seven teams have two wins, and only four of those have a record of better than .500.

Thus, Green Bay is in eighth place in the NFC, behind New Orleans (4-0; first place in South), Seattle (4-0; first place in West), Detroit (3-1; first place in North), Dallas (2-2, first place in East), Chicago (3-1) and San Francisco (2-2). Arizona (2-2) is in seventh place.

Showing the folly of projecting the difficulty of a team's schedule based on the prior year's records, the Packers' schedule isn't nearly as daunting as it was when it became final at season's end.

The Packers entered this season with the sixth-hardest schedule. Their opponents had a cumulative .533 winning percentage in 2012. Now, with Week 4 in the books, the Packers' next 13 foes have a combined record of 22-30. That's a winning percentage of just .423.

In fact, their only games against teams with records over .500 are their home-and-home matchups against Detroit and Chicago. The Lions visit Lambeau Field on Sunday.

Atlanta (13-3 in 2012; 1-3 in 2013), Minnesota (10-6; 1-3), N.Y. Giants (9-7; 0-4) and Pittsburgh (8-8; 0-4) have taken tremendous dips compared to last year.

Here's what's left:

Week 5: vs. Detroit (3-1). Who knows if the Lions are any good. They beat Minnesota, Washington and Chicago but lost at Arizona. The Packers have dominated the series but the last six games have been won by a combined 33 points, including five games by one score.

Week 6: at Baltimore (2-2). Lost at Denver and Buffalo; won home games against Cleveland and Houston by a combined 44-15. With a big contract and Super Bowl ring, Joe Flacco has a 69.4 passer rating and has completed 57.4 percent of his passes.

Week 7: vs. Cleveland (2-2). The Browns are tied for first place, showing the sorry state of the AFC North. They've won back-to-back games against Minnesota and Cincinnati. Opponents are averaging just 2.9 yards per carry.

Week 8: at Minnesota (1-3). Behind Greg Jennings' two touchdowns, the Vikings beat up on lowly Pittsburgh on Sunday. Before that, the Vikings lost at Detroit, at Chicago and at home to Cleveland. Adrian Peterson is on pace for "just" 1,684 rushing yards.

Week 9: vs. Chicago (3-1). Who knows if the Bears are any good. They beat Cincinnati and Minnesota at home, then trounced Pittsburgh on the road, before getting smacked by Detroit on Sunday.

Week 10: vs. Philadelphia (1-3). Chip Kelly brought his new-age offense with him from Oregon. Too bad he doesn't have a defense after allowing 111 points in consecutive losses to San Diego, Kansas City and Denver.

Week 11: at N.Y. Giants (0-4). The Giants stink. After being edged by Dallas in the opener, they've lost to the Broncos, Panthers and Chiefs by a combined 80 points. Eli Manning has thrown nine interceptions and the Giants are minus-9 in turnovers.

Week 12: vs. Minnesota (1-3). Was Matt Cassel's big day in place of Christian Ponder real, or was it fool's gold against Pittsburgh Steel Mesh Defense?

Week 13: at Detroit (3-1). Turnovers are a fickle thing, so can the Lions keep this up? They were a 30th-ranked minus-16 in turnovers last year but are plus-4 this year. Their eight interceptions almost match last year's 11.

Week 14: vs. Atlanta (1-3). The Falcons made a splash in free agency by beating the Packers to Steven Jackson. A lot of good that's done them. Their secondary was dismantled in free agency and has been dismantled in the first four games. Their lone win came at home against St. Louis, with the losses to the Saints, Dolphins and Patriots.

Week 15: at Dallas (2-2). The Cowboys are 2-0 at home (Giants, Rams) and 0-2 on the road (Chiefs, Chargers). Their pass defense is really bad.

Week 16: vs. Pittsburgh (0-4). The Steelers have lost to the Titans, Bengals, Bears and Vikings. Unbelievably, they're minus-11 in turnovers. That's 11 giveaways and zero takeaways. Plus, they're minus-11 in sacks.

Week 17: at Chicago (3-1). Lovie Smith is gone but the Bears still lead the NFL with eight fumble recoveries and 14 total takeaways.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


Packer Report Top Stories