It's not time to close the door on the Green bay Packers' 2013 season just yet, but it's never too early to look ahead to the next year's schedule and see what's in store. Besides, with us waiting with bated breath on Aaron Rodgers' status this afternoon, it's something else to talk about for a few hours. All told, it seems that the Packers will have a mixed draw this year in terms of difficulty after the team appeared to have a relatively easy schedule in 2013.
As a reminder, each NFL team plays sixteen games: two each against their three divisional opponents, one entire NFC division, one entire AFC division, and the two other NFC teams that will finish in the same place in their division in 2013 as the Packers do.
In 2014, the Packers get the AFC East, and the games will swap home locations from the last time the divisions matched up in 2010. The same thing goes for the NFC South, which the Packers last played in 2011.
Here are the fourteen games we know about for 2014:
at New Orleans
at Tampa Bay
vs. New England
vs. New York
Thus, the Packers have to travel to one exceedingly difficult road environment in New Orleans against the Saints. This will be the first time the Packers travel to the Superdome since 2008, as the two most recent games between the franchises took place at Lambeau Field in 2011 and 2012. The Falcons will come to Green Bay for a second straight time, however, after the Packers played at the Georgia Dome three times (including playoffs) during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The NFC South should be a tough draw though - the Saints look extremely strong at home, the Panthers are looking like a very good team, and don't expect the Falcons to be a three-win team at this point next season.
Meanwhile, in cross-conference games, the New England Patriots will travel to Green Bay for the first time since 2006, when the Patriots won 35-0. That game was the last time the Packers were shut out, but expect a different result next year. Meanwhile, the last team that was shut out by the Packers' defense, the New York Jets, also makes a trip to Green Bay next season. One can certainly make an argument that a full-strength Packers team could win all four of their games against AFC teams next season, since they get the toughest one at home.
With the Packers unlikely to fall to fourth in the NFC North, we can rule out the last-place St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins as potential opponents for the strength-based games. We'll know those opponents games once the divisions are determined (which hopefully will be happen thanks to a Packers victory over the Bears in Week 17).
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