The Packers' first quarter is tough, and also contains Green Bay's bye week after their game at Cincinnati. Two weeks after playing the Bengals, the Packers' second quarter of 2013 begins. The second group of four games on the schedule are as follows:
Week 6: at Baltimore Ravens
Week 7: vs. Cleveland Browns
Week 8: at Minnesota Vikings
Week 9: vs. Chicago Bears
Week 6: @ BAL
The Packers have to head to Baltimore to take on the defending Super Bowl champions, who will be minus Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin. This will still, however, be a tough game, and stopping Ray Rice is an absolute must if the Packers want to remain competitive in this one. After the 49ers trip, it will be worth it to see if McCarthy mixes things up or goes completely one-dimensional like he did in both games against San Francisco in 2012. Even though the Ravens are weakened by their losses in the offseason, they are still good and likely will be favored to win this one.
Week 7: vs. CLE
The Packers' schedule gets somewhat easier after their trip to Baltimore. That being said, Green Bay's game against Cleveland could possibly be a trap game as another road trip is looming. The Browns have looked bad and the Packers blew them out in 2009 in Cleveland. There has been some stability on the Browns since 2009, but this likely won't be enough to even keep Cleveland close in this one.
Week 8: @ MIN
I said the Browns game was a trap game because of this date. The Packers will get to see their old friend Greg Jennings, but aside from him and Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' roster is full of question marks. First and foremost is their quarterback. Christian Ponder could very likely regress from 2012, and if he does regress, how far will he fall and will he even lose his starting job? Furthermore, Adrian Peterson, after leading the NFL in rushing in 2012, will be keyed on more than ever after his 2,000-yard season last year. The Vikings will likely play this one close, but the Packers have enough talent to win this one and realistically should eke out a "W" here.
Week 9: vs. CHI
Now we get treated to the oldest rivalry in the NFL, as the Chicago Bears make their first trip to Lambeau Field in 2013. Like the Vikings, however, the Bears are full of question marks. Jay Cutler has struggled with interceptions against Green Bay ever since being signed in 2009, and 2013 is the last year of his contract with the Bears. The Bears have also lacked a consistent running game recently, and their defense took a huge hit when Brian Urlacher left in the offseason. Lastly, how will the coaching turnover affect the Bears?
The Ravens game is key in this stretch, and how the Packers play in that one may very well set the tone for the rest of the regular season. Assuming the Packers finish 2-2 or 3-1 in the first four games, a record of 3-1 here (with the loss against the Ravens) will help set the Packers up to make a push for the playoffs. It is vitally important that the Packers do not overlook the Vikings or Bears, and anything less than 3-1 in these four games will leave the Packers potentially struggling to make the playoffs in 2013.