The Green Bay Packers are pulling out all the stops in 2018. Because the team was founded in 1919, this will be the 100th season of Packers football, and the organization is planning some big events and celebrations throughout the summer and fall.
The events will officially begin with the 2018 Shareholder’s Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at 7:00 PM, which is to be followed by a series of events around the start of training camp. However, the team has a specific goal in mind to begin the 2018 regular season: a home opener.
Team president Mark Murphy revealed in a Monday press conference that the team has petitioned the league to give them a home game in week one, a request that has reportedly been granted. Even better, the NFL is reportedly considering the Packers for the Sunday Night Football timeslot in opening week.
With the Packers’ opponents already known for 2018, we have eight options for which team could end up being the opposition in that contest. Here is a ranking of the matchups from least-appealing to best.
8/7. Buffalo Bills & Miami Dolphins
It just wouldn’t be right for the Packers to play an AFC opponent to kick off the 100th season, particularly a team that has little history with. If it were the Patriots it would be more interesting, both based on the matchup and the fact that the Packers defeated New England in Super Bowl XXXI, but Buffalo and Miami just don’t really move the needle.
The Packers have a pair of playoff losses to the Cardinals on their ledger over the past decade, losing in Glendale following the 2009 and 2015 seasons. However, that is pretty much the extent of the rivalry between the two franchises; after all, the Packers lead the all-time series 46-23-4, although the Cardinals do have a 2-1 playoff edge.
These two franchises have a more vivid recent history in both the regular season and playoffs, having played eight games (two in the postseason) since the start of the 2010 season. The Packers won four straight from January 2011 to 2014 — including an NFC Divisional playoff game — before Atlanta took control the last two years with three home victories at home. The second of those wins was in the 2016 NFC Championship. The Packers will surely relish a chance to play Atlanta at home for once, having not played them at Lambeau Field since 2014.
These aren’t the Joe Montana- or Steve Young-led 49ers of the 1980s and 90s, but you can bet that the Packers would be able to play up the Favre-Young rivalry from the Mike Holmgren era if the 49ers come to town. There’s recent history here as well, with the Packers falling to the 49ers in consecutive playoff games earlier this decade, plus San Francisco looks like a team on the rise after acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from New England and closing out last season with five straight wins.
Picking between the three divisional opponents was the toughest task here, and unfortunately for the Lions they get bottom billing. This is the team against whom the Packers have the biggest lead in the all-time series, and the Packers have won both playoff contests between the two franchises. They just can’t overcome the fact that the top two teams are either a better matchup or have the edge in history.
The Packers helped open the Vikings’ new stadium two years ago, and the matchup is arguably the best with the Vikings winning the NFC North two of the past three years. But while the history between the two franchises is long and well worthy of recognition for the Packers’ 100th season, it just can’t quite measure up to number one.
There’s just no other option. The teams are separated by two games all-time (finally in the Packers’ favor after last season’s sweep) and the rivalry is the most-played in NFL history. Meanwhile, the Bears enter their 99th season this year, offering the two teams the opportunity to repeat the matchup at Soldier Field in 2019. Recent history between the teams be damned — I don’t care if the Packers are 16-3 in the last 19 games. This contest should be Packers-Bears and I will not be convinced otherwise.