The Packers landed a sweet spot for a bye week in Week 7. That’ll give any players with minor injuries a chance to rest up, while the most difficult stretch of the regular season follows. Which brings us to the Top-five games so far for the 2018-2019 season.
Granted, a lot can change from now until the regular season starts, but let’s wildly speculate anyhow. Here are the five games that I expect to be the Packers’ toughest in 2018.
5. Home vs the Lions in Week 17
With all due respect to Detroit, based on last season, I’m not extremely worried about the Lions this season.
However, the Lions are often scrappy and battling for a Wild Card spot. So, this Week 17 matchup to end the year could be quite the battle for playoff positioning. Not to mention, this game will be a December bout at Lambeau Field.
The Lions should have a solid receiving corps if Kenny Golladay bounces back after a rookie season of injuries and they’re sitting in a pretty good spot in the first-round of the draft.
Detroit may have lost it’s defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin, but they’ve brought in Matt Patricia as their new Head Coach. Have always thought it was truly Bill Belichick’s show on defense and less Patricia’s handy work.
4. @ Los Angeles Rams in Week 8
Everyone who’s watched a sports channel in the past few months have seen the Rams load up on talent. Bringing in Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib could be the recipe for a Super Bowl birth after getting bounced from the playoffs early last season.
Or it could be a mixture for disaster. Who knows, but in Week 8, neither team’s playoff destinies should be written in stone.
The Packers will be coming off a Bye so they’ll have some time to gameplan for the wrecking crew that will be Suh and Aaron Donald.
Playing in Los Angeles isn’t exactly a homefield advantage which will be nice. There could be a crowd that is 60 percent Packer fans at the Coliseum, since Cheeseheads travel well.
3. vs Falcons in Week 14
The Packers haven’t won against Atlanta since 2014. Incidentally, that’s also the last time the Packers got to face them at Lambeau. In the three games since, the Packers have gone down to Georgia and lost all three by a combined 111-76.
The Packers have shown that they can’t slow down Matt Ryan or Julio Jones in recent years, but hopefully new DC Mike Pettine helps the defense become less of a liability for the offense. Week 14 will be a pretty significant spot for teams jockeying for playoff positioning. Let’s hope the Packers have reached double-digit wins by then so a loss won’t turn the remaining three weeks into do-or-die scenarios.
2. @New England in Week 9
Historically, the Packers haven’t played the Patriots that often with just 11 games against each other. 10 regular season games have been split 5-5, while one very significant postseason game gives the Packers the edge in the all-time series.
Having just played in L.A. the week before, going to Foxboro for a primetime Sunday Night game will be a difficult challenge. It may seem like the Patriots are down, but Tom Brady and those boys will still be a difficult match.
This will be an important week for the Packers to get a win with the Lions and Vikings playing each other in Week 9, and the Bears playing a Buffalo Bills team that will be looking to build off last season’s playoff berth.
1. @Minnesota in Week 12
The Packers will get 10 days to prepare for yet another primetime schedule match— they have five this season— after they play in Seattle on a Thursday night. This will also be a rematch for the division foes, but neither team will truly know what they are in Week 2 so this game will hold more weight.
Last season, the Vikings were a game away from playing in the Super Bowl. Despite the fact that they got blown off the field in Philadelphia, I’m betting that game would’ve been much different had it been played at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Kirk Cousins is the best QB they’ve had in Minnesota from a talent perspective since Brett Favre. And the defense isn’t taking a step back as long as Mike Zimmer is on the sidelines this season. Depending on how the first game between these rivals go — and hopefully there are no significant injuries this time — this game will be a slugfest.