Can you hear it? That soft voice beckoning you along with a soft wave that seems to say, “It’s time to come home.”
Don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind – it’s just your old friend, the National Football League.
With teams beginning their offseason programs this week, as well as the NFL Draft conversation starting to ramp up to next Thursday’s first round, we’ve reached that time of year where the NFL once again starts to regain its stranglehold on the American sporting public.
Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, there’s one other major event happening this week: the always highly anticipated NFL schedule release is slated for Thursday evening.
We’ve known who, and where, the Packers will be playing since the end of the 2016 regular season. Thursday, though, we’ll finally find out exactly when each contest will occur. Anyone who has followed the NFL long enough knows that attempting to read the schedule makers’ minds is about as futile an exercise as predicting Ted Thompson’s draft board.
Of course, that stops exactly no one from trying to do it anyway.
Here is my prediction for the Packers 2017 schedule:
(1) Sunday, September 10 – at Atlanta. The fact this is such a popular prediction for the first Sunday Night Football broadcast of the 2017 season almost makes me think the league will go a different direction. But the potential is just too great. New stadium, NFC Championship rematch – sounds like a heck of a way to kick off the season to me.
(2) Sunday, September 17 – vs. Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston’s first visit to Lambeau Field will come early in the season.
(3) Sunday, September 17 – at Chicago. The first divisional clash comes in week three, and the Packers (hopefully much improved) defense gets their first crack at the Mike Glennon-led Bears.
(4) Monday, October 2 – vs Seattle. Green Bay’s second primetime appearance of the young season. Can the Packers pull a repeat of the thrashing they put on the Seahawks at Lambeau Field in 2016?
(5) Sunday, October 8 – vs Minnesota. Adrian Peterson’s first game against the team he spent 10 years with. Just kidding. Or maybe not.
(6) Sunday, October 15 – at Cleveland. The last time Green Bay was scheduled to play a game in Ohio, the game was cancelled due to an unsuitable playing surface. Have the Browns considered this strategy?
(7) Sunday, October 22 – at Detroit. A good candidate for a primetime slot, but not quite as good as some others on the Packers’ schedule. The first half of the division slate comes to a close and TJ Lang takes the field as a Green Bay opponent for the first time.
(8) Sunday, October 29 – vs. New Orleans. The second and final Sunday Night Football appearance for Green Bay (until their week 17 game gets flexed), and their third primetime game overall. In the Saints’ last visit to Lambeau Field, Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and Cedric Benson led the Packers in rushing.
(9) Sunday, November 5 – at Carolina. Green Bay hopes to avoid a 37-14 fourth quarter deficit and subsequent fruitless rally.
(10) BYE – The league makes up for last year’s early bye week in a big way.
(11) Sunday, November 19 – vs. Baltimore. Could this be the first snow game of the year at Lambeau? It would be fitting for a matchup such as this.
(12) Thursday, November 23 – at Dallas. A perfect game for the Thanksgiving afternoon slot. So many meaty storylines to follow, and so many replays of the Rodgers to Cook miracle!
(13) Sunday, December 3 – vs Cincinnati. The Bengals are the only team Aaron Rodgers has not beaten in his career. That’d be a fun item to check off the list.
(14) Monday, December 11 – at Pittsburgh. December football in Pennsylvania. Rodgers and Roethlisberger square off for possibly the last time, barring a Super Bowl matchup.
(15) Sunday, December 17 – vs. Detroit. The home stretch begins with the first of three consecutive division games to close the season. Playoff positions are starting to come into focus; will these two be neck and neck?
(16) Sunday, December 24 – vs. Chicago. A Christmas Eve clash between the two oldest rivals in the league. Merry Christmas, indeed!
(17) Sunday, December 31 – at Minnesota. I expect both teams to be in a position where this game is a likely candidate to be flexed. Can the Packers kick off a New Year’s Eve celebration for the ages with their first win at U.S. Bank Stadium?
There you have it. Check back after the schedule is released Thursday night when these predictions are inevitably proven ridiculous.
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