The NFL’s schedule expansion is still a ways off, meaning that with six games under their belts, the Packers have a nice, round, satisfying number of games remaining on their schedule: 10.
That gives us a perfect opportunity to do some schedule-related prognostication. How many of those 10 remaining games will the Packers win?
We posed that question to our writing staff who, after consulting with their chosen means of future telling (magic eight balls, tea leaves, various forms of augury, just to name a few), came up with the following answers.
Jonathan E. Barnett: 8 (finish 13-3)
The games that most concern me are the two Bears games, the Titans, Colts and 49ers. I think the other five games are going to be wins. Colts and Bears have great defenses and I think it might make it rougher sledding. Still, the Packers offense has been okay in many of these situations, but they bear concern. The Titans and 49ers have the run games that specifically attack our weakness in stopping the run. I still think the Packers go 3-2 in these games.
Paul Noonan: 7 (finish 12-4)
There are plenty of cupcakes on the schedule, but I suspect the game against the Colts looks a lot like the game against the Bucs, and really, that’s what it comes down to. There are defenses out there that will stymie the offense enough to eke out a few wins in the second half, and between the 49ers, Colts, Bears, and Titans, I see three losses. The 49ers are banged up, but they’ve quietly righted their offense, and the defense is still a tough matchup for LaFLeur and company. I know that nobody wants to hear anything about Chicago, and their offense is a steaming pile, but the defense is real enough. Also, don’t sleep on the Lions down the stretch. Yes their coach is dumb, but their defense has been steadily imroving, and they didn’t have Kenny Golladay in the first matchup.
Tex Western: 7 (finish 12-4)
Before the season, I was firmly in the camp that this team could finish 11-5 and be an objectively better team than it was last year. I stand by that, but I think that they’ll do one better than that and finish one game off the pace they set a year ago. Last week I said that the Packers would finish second in the NFC, but I do think that a 12-4 record has a chance to get the Packers home-field advantage in this year’s conference.
Going 7-3 down the stretch, when looking at the schedule, actually feels like a bit of a disappointment. The game in Indianapolis looks like the toughest remaining contest to me, particularly in light of the Colts possessing an elite defense. Interestingly, they are only middle of the pack on third downs and in the red zone, however, areas where the Packers have been very good on offense so far, but I’m still counting that game as a loss.
The 49ers game in two weeks is actually one I think the Packers can and will win, particularly given the state of San Francisco’s roster. No Raheem Mostert, no Nick Bosa, no Dee Ford, no Richard Sherman...the list goes on, while the Packers look poised to get Allen Lazard back in time for that contest. Instead, I see the other strong loss potential coming to Tennessee in week 16. I think that game can and will be a shootout; Tennessee’s defense ranks among the worst in the league in yardage, but they sit as a mid-tier unit overall thanks to forcing more turnovers than any other team. With Derrick Henry leading the charge, that could well be a loss in Green Bay, though I’d hardly count out the Packers.
But with those two games iffy, I also see the Packers dropping a game they should win, whether that’s a surprisingly tough divisional game in Detroit (week 14) or Chicago (week 17) or the team proving me wrong and laying a third straight dud in San Francisco. The good news is that 12-4 should still put the Packers in contention for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Shawn Wagner: 7 (finish 12-4)
The matchups against San Francisco and Tennessee are the two losses I count in my total right now, but I predict one additional slip-up along the way (my guess would be Indianapolis). However, I think the Packers are poised for a six-game winning streak if they can get past the Colts. I am optimistic about Green Bay taking the divisional games remaining on the schedule, even on the road in Detroit.
Jon Meerdink: 9 (Finish 14-2)
I’ve never been a contrarian, and nobody will ever describe me as an overly optimistic person (a coworker once said that I was an “Eeyore-type person”). But I do like to cut against the grain on occasion, and I figure why not turn over a new leaf of positive thinking in a year featuring wildfires, insane hurricanes, wildfire hurricanes, and a pandemic?
So I’m laying down my marker here: the Packers will win nine of their final ten games. Why do I think that? The rational part of my brain defends it thus: there’s a good chance the Packers will be favored in every one of their games down the stretch, even against tough opponents like the 49ers and Colts. With the 49ers banged up and the Colts somewhat inconsistent (though very good!) the Packers might be road favorites, and LaFleur’s crew has done a good job of taking care of business in those situations.
The less rational part of me says … well, why not? Surely the can’t be perfect; winning 10 games in a row in the NFL is a rare feat. But the Packers have executed at a high level this year save for their stinker against the Buccaneers. I think their defense can improve, their offense is only going to get better as their playmakers return from injury, and Aaron Rodgers can continue to do his thing. Barring injury or just bad performance, why can’t the Packers win nine more games?