This week’s Walkthroughs acknowledge that the Green Bay Packers have completed the first quarter mark of the 2017 regular season. With a 3-1 record, the Packers sit in a tie for the top spot in the NFC North with the Detroit Lions and remain in a six-way tie for the lead in the NFC as a whole.
Today, we look around to see what our writers are hoping for from the next four games this season. In that stretch, the Packers travel to Dallas and Minnesota, then return home for a three week stretch as they play the Saints, get a bye week, and host the Lions to wrap up the first half.
Here’s what we’re looking for over the next five weeks.
Shawn Wagner: How the Packers stack up in the NFC; Play of the Secondary
In the overall picture, I’m simply looking forward to measuring Green Bay against some of the top teams in the NFC as the team approaches midseason. Coming into the regular season, the schedule appeared to be a serious challenge with two playoff contenders from the year before, a normally strong Bengals team, and a fierce divisional rival in Chicago. After four weeks, the Packers’ status in the NFC is a bit cloudy when looking at those four teams. The Falcons still look legit, but the Seahawks are a shaky 2-2 and the Bengals and Bears are each 1-3 in the midst of seemingly down years. The best indicator of Green Bay’s strength may be found in the game played against Atlanta, and it wasn’t necessarily a good one.
The next four games will be a strong barometer of what we can expect from the Packers going forward as they face NFC North competitors Detroit and Minnesota, an aerial offense in New Orleans, and a strong Cowboys team this week. With at least two of those teams expected to make the playoffs, the matchups should tell us more about what kind of challenger Green Bay really is, especially with several starters expected to be back from injury.
On a more specific side, I’m excited (hopefully in a good way) to see Green Bay’s new secondary. With Quinten Rollins receiving less playing time by the week and Damarious Randall perhaps losing favor with the coaching staff, there will be more opportunities for Kevin King and Josh Hawkins to prove themselves at the outside corner positions even with Davon House returning from injury. Morgan Burnett’s help in the slot also frees up more playing time for Josh Jones to gain comfort at the Nitro position. How those young players progress over this next stretch and hold up against a pass-heavy Saints offense will provide a glimpse of what fans may expect the rest of the season.
Paul Noonan - Will They Dominate When Healthy?
The Packers don’t look like anything special according to DVOA where they rank 11th, training both the Vikings and Lions, but I still maintain that if they were fully loaded, with both tackles playing, having now decided that Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall are awful, that they would be one of the best, if not the best team in the league. It looks like that may happen as soon as this week and I’m anxious to finally see if I’m right, or just a homer.
It’s entirely possible that the latter is correct and I’m overrating strong starts by King and Jones, that the Nitro defense is a half-cocked idea destined to blow up against a strong rushing team eventually, or that the offense just isn’t as good as I think it should be without a great vertical threat. And it’s possible that injuries, existing or new, will never actually give us this answer, but after the mini-bye, this looks like a stretch where the Packers can truly separate themselves.
Jon Meerdink: Seeing Detroit’s new uniforms at Lambeau
I watch with great anticipation any time an NFL team unveils new uniforms, and this offseason was no exception. I was excited to see the Lions unveil their new set, which promised a simpler, retro-inspired look with modern touches.
While I’m somewhat meh on their home look, I love the road uniforms. That particular shade of blue is unique in the NFL, and the numbers pop much better on the current set than the previous one. I think it’ll make for a great looking game when the Lions travel to Lambeau Field in Week 9.
Bob Fitch: Points!
As the Packers have yet to see the field with their intended full offensive unit, Aaron Rodgers and co. have fared quite nicely. A lot of that, as always, can be contributed to the exceptional pass-thrower and his deepening arsenal of pass-catchers, but with time comes cohesion and a better chemistry of the nuances of the offense. We have yet to see our prized free agent, Martellus Bennett, shine in any capacity. Constantly under pressure, we haven’t seen much of Rodgers’ patented play extensions that lead to wide open receivers.
Looking at the defenses during the next four games, only the Vikings can be considered a top ten unit (don’t look at Detroit’s fantasy scoring as an indicator of their actual talent). Fans of the modern era Packers have come to know Green Bay as a pass first, second, and third offense, capable of putting up points in a hurry, and that trend should continue during this stretch.
Evan “Tex” Western: Kevin King’s continued matchup challenges
The Packers have faced a murderer’s row of opposing wide receivers this season, and the task doesn’t get easier in this next stretch. Rookie corner Kevin King saw Julio Jones and A.J. Green in the quarter of the season. In the second quarter, he will likely draw matchups with Dez Bryant, Stefon Diggs, and Michael Thomas, with some Golden Tate sprinkled in as well.
How King fares against these top receivers will go a long way to determining the Packers’ overall success in the next four games. A strong pass rush from the front seven will certainly make his job easier, but King will need to continue growing up quickly. I look forward to seeing him do so.