Upon first glance at the freshly released 2018 schedule, the thing that immediately jumps out is how the home slate is both front AND back loaded.
Three of the first four games are at Lambeau Field, as are three of the final five. That gives the Packers a chance to both start and finish strong, something that has been a point of emphasis under head coach Mike McCarthy.
With games the season opener against the Chicago Bears, followed by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2 and the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 (with a game in Washington in Week 3), a 3-1 or even 4-0 start would put the Packers in a prime position heading into the heart of their schedule.
It is that part of the campaign that Green Bay could encounter some adversity. After their Week 7 bye, Green Bay has back-to-back road games on both coasts with contests against the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots and after a home game against the Miami Dolphins, they will take a trip out west again on a short week for a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Throw in the matchup at US Bank Stadium against the Vikings in Week 12 and it’s clear this five game stretch will show what the 2018 Packers are made of.
This is why a fast start will be critical. If Green Bay can get into the by at 5-1 (with the Vikings being the toughest opponent those first six games), they can afford a couple stumbles in that brutal mid-season stretch.
That sets the stage for the final quarter of the season and this is where the scheduling gods smiled upon the Packers again.
All three of Green Bay’s December home games are against dome teams (Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions). This works out very favorably for a team who embraces the cold weather, which will likely be key to a playoff push. Trips to Chicago to face the Bears and to New York to play the Jets followed by the season finale against the Lions give Green Bay a great opportunity to close out 2018 strong.
Teams want to be playing their best football in December and this schedule gives the Packers a great shot at doing just that.
So that’s the 2018 Packers schedule. If it were a hamburger, the top and bottom buns would be perfectly toasted. It’s the meat in the middle that might be a little too well done to digest properly but you never know. It could still taste good, even if it doesn’t look too appetizing at first.
Here’s to many happy tailgate celebrations for the Packers in 2018, including the mother of them all at a Super Bowl celebration in Atlanta on February 3, 2019.