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Packers’ 2018 schedule could set up Green Bay to fight for No. 1 seed in NFC

Even with tough stretch in the middle of the season, Green Bay should be a 12 or 13-win team next season.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
With Aaron Rodgers back in the fold and a favorable schedule, the Packers should be in the mix in the NFC.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t know exactly what the Green Bay Packers’ roster will look like, but in all likelihood the bones are in place. Some rookies will have an impact and potentially even start. There are June 1 cuts who could come in and contribute.

I don’t know that I need to see them. I don’t need to extrapolate. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and a talented skill group. They have a new defensive coordinator and an outstanding front seven. They’re Super Bowl contenders.

And the way the schedule played out, with manageable stretches to start and to close, the Packers should be looking at a 13-win season.

Games in Los Angeles to face the Rams, in New England for Tom Brady and the Patriots, and in Minnesota for the rival Vikings are the likely (and acceptable) losses. There are no scheduled losses on the docket, no games where Green Bay will have to drag ass into and gut out a win.

They’ll host the Vikings at Lambeau in Week 2 when Kirk Cousins may not be fully acclimated to his supporting cast and when Green Bay ought to have an intact roster. The rest of the home slate features just one other playoff team, the Falcons, who come to Lambeau in December. The 49ers come to Lambeau with Jimmy Garoppolo having a full offseason to prepare and an improved roster, but it’s hard to see a Rodgers-led team losing to his hometown club—still the team who passed on Rodgers all those years ago—in prime time.

As we hear every year the goal is go 8-0 at home and play .500 football on the road. That’s 12 wins. The only other place on the schedule where a loss could/should pop up is in Seattle during the brutal middle stretch of the season, but the Seahawks could be a mess with an offensive line still struggling and a defense that won’t have Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. Depending on medicals and trade, they could be without Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, and Earl Thomas as well.

Not to mention the Packers have owned the Seahawks the last few years.

The Rams made splashy moves in the offseason and the game in L.A. could be in play for the top seed in the NFC. The Eagles and Saints will likely have a word to say about that, though the Saints play in the toughest division in the league and we still don’t know when Carson Wentz will play for Philadelphia.

There’s no denying the Bears will be better this year and the Lions will always be dangerous with Matthew Stafford, but the Packers are simply better at the top of the roster and should be winning these games. We know not to take anything for granted inside the division, but the Packers will be favored in all four games against those teams in all likelihood. They should win.

The schedule breaks in such a way that the Packers should be able to accomplish their goal of defending home turf and winning half their games on the road. A weaker-than-usual Seahawks team could allow them to slip up once at home and still get to where they want to go or above.

Given the roster, the coaching changes, and the schedule, Green Bay should be once again fighting for a first-round bye and a Lambeau-centric path to the Super Bowl.