Many NFL head coaches talk about the football season being broken up into four mini-seasons of four games each. With that in mind, we at Acme Packing Company decided to break the Green Bay Packers' 2013 schedule down into four quarters to project what we think will happen and what record will define each quarter as a success or a disappointment.
The first quarter of the season actually spans five weeks with the Packers' bye week coming in week four. As such, the first four games on the schedule are as follows:
Let's take a deeper look into each game.
Week 1: @ SF
In a rematch of the opponent from the Packers' 2012 opener and loss in the playoffs, Green Bay again travels West to play the 49ers. It will put Mike McCarthy's study of the read-option offense to the test immediately, and will be a great opportunity for Dom Capers and company to either demonstrate that they have adjusted over the previous eight months or remained stagnant. As much as a win would be a great sign of progress, it will be a mighty challenge.
Week 2: vs. WAS
The big question about this game revolves around the recovery of Robert Griffin III's knee after his injury late last season. That will determine the type of offense that the Redskins will run. If he is somehow ready to play they'll likely give the Packers a second straight dose of the read option. If not, Kirk Cousins would probably lead a more traditional passing attack with a heavy dose of Alfred Morris on the ground.
Week 3: @ CIN
Green Bay's early draw is tough, with three straight 2012 playoff teams including the Bengals in week three. I will likely be in attendance for this game, and when the Bengals have the ball my attention will be focused on how the Packers' secondary covers A.J. Green. He's big and physical, and is the type of receiver that Tramon Williams has handled well recently. On the other side of the ball, the Packers' interior linemen will have their hands full with defensive tackle Geno Atkins. These aren't the Bengals of the past 20 years, ladies and gentlemen. Green Bay will need a creative gameplan on both sides of the ball and excellent execution to escape Ohio with a win.
Week 5: vs. DET
The Lions have played the Packers tough in Wisconsin recently, and the fact that this appears to be the easiest game in the early part of the schedule should give Packers fans some cause for concern. Detroit is far too talented to be taken lightly at any point; however, I don't see Detroit winning in Green Bay just because kicker Jason Hanson has retired.
The early schedule does the Packers no favors. Then again, perhaps an early bye in week 4 will be beneficial after starting off the season with three games against playoff teams from 2012, including two games on the road. The Packers will be a good team, and if they can emerge from the first portion of the season with three wins, they should be well on their way to another playoff berth. My guess is that Green Bay will start the season at a record of 2-2, which would leave me overall noncommittal on their early performance; as long as one of the two wins comes against the Lions they should be in a comfortable position to make a run at another NFC North title. Anything short of a .500 record in the early going will, and should, be considered a serious disappointment for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.