• Crystal Ball Time for the '22 Packers.

    Finally, we know the when and the where, to go along with the who, when it comes to the Pack’s 2022 schedule.

    Things to like:

    1. Closing the season with two division home games. Seems like the Pack finishes on the road every year.
    2. Three of the last four at home, with a road game in Chicago in December, means a near full slate of cold weather games.
    3. One of those late season home games is against the Rams on Monday night: the colder the better.
    4. The return of big Mike. The Pack’s longtime coach makes his first visit to Lambeau in what is already the highest priced ticket in the league this year.
    5. Plenty of national attention: there’s only one noon kickoff at Lambeau, with three prime time games and three 3:25 starts. The Pack has seven stand-alone games, when you factor in Christmas and London.
    6. Oh yeah, the Pack’s first ever international game. Two of the league’s biggest fanbases collide in what should be an amazing scene. I’ll be heading there, hosting a 6-night KFAN-sponsored package. Details will be announced soon, and I’ll give you all the lowdown as soon as I know it.

    Things not to like:

    1. Two of the three toughest road tests come in the first three weeks. Opening in Minnesota is not ideal—with no film on the Purple’s new offense available. Tampa Bay and the heat in September will also be tough.
    2. A three-game road trip. When the Pack declined the option of a Week 6 bye following the London trip, it meant they had to play at home in Week 7. That leads to a three game trip in weeks 7-9, at Washington, Buffalo in prime time and Detroit. It’s the meat of the schedule, with the Cowboys, Titans and Eagles looming.
    3. That Titans game is a Thursday night affair, just four days after all the hoopla surrounding the Cowboys game. Pack could be ripe for a letdown and better be ready to deal with Derrick Henry.
    4. Christmas Day in Miami. Call me Scrooge but I like the tradition of the NBA on Christmas Day. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I didn’t enjoy it last year and won’t this year.
    5. The Week 14 bye week. I’d rather it be late than early like it was last season, but this is the last week of byes and in a year when the Pack will await the returns of Elgton Jenkins and Robert Tonyan, an earlier bye week may have been better.
    6. The rest disadvantage: When you add in bye weeks, Thursday games, Monday games etc., the Packers have the biggest rest disadvantage in the league at -13. The next worse is at -10. Most notably, the Packers will play two giant games against the Bills and Cowboys and both teams will be coming off their byes.

    Let’s work our way through the schedule, a quarter at a time:

    First Quarter:  As I mentioned, to me, the opener in Minnesota is one of the toughest ones to call on the whole schedule. The Packers opened as 1.5 point favorites and will be facing a new Vikings offense and no tape to study. And the Pack’s offense could start a little slowly, with some new pieces up front and at wide receiver. But defense tends to have the advantage in Week 1 and Green Bay’s D is significantly better than the Purple’s. The Pack squeaks out a win. The home opener brings the Bears and Sunday night football. A tried and true pairing that only gets better with age. Rodgers remains an owner of the Bears and the Pack move to 2-0.

    Week 3 brings us Rodgers vs. Brady, maybe for the last time. Or maybe they’ll meet again in January. This is the home opener for the Bucs and they’ll be coming off a game in New Orleans, a team they can never seem to beat, so they could be coming into this one a little aggravated. Give me Tampa Bay. The Pack will rebound in Week 4 against Tom’s former team as the Pack’s defense flexes against Mac Jones and the Pats. First quarter record: 3-1.

    Second Quarter: I’m putting five games into this quarter because it starts in London and ends with the three game road trip. The international game is a wildcard, but Matt LaFleur has been through a few of these and knows what to expect. Oh, and the Giants figure to be terrible, so the Pack takes care of business. The Jets game in Week 6 figures to be ugly, with the Pack dealing with the after effects of the trip and the Jets bringing with them a feisty defense and an offense that figures to take a step in year two. The Pack wins, but it won’t be pretty.

    I think the Pack will drop two games on the three game trip. It starts in Washington and I think Green Bay is poised for a letdown. I expect their defense to rebound this season—it all comes down to Carson Wentz, but I think the Pack comes up short. That brings us to one of the highlights on the NFL schedule: at Buffalo on Sunday Night Football. It will be billed as a possible Super Bowl preview and should live up to the hype. The Bills win a shootout and Green Bay drops to 5-3. The second quarter ends in Detroit and this is where the bleeding stop. I expect Detroit to surprise this season and finish ahead of the Bears, but the Pack will take care of business, on their way to a sweep in the division this season. Second quarter record: 3-2. Overall: 6-3.

    Third Quarter: The Pack returns home for the epic return of Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys for a 3:25 start at Lambeau. Yes, Dallas will be well-rested and Green Bay will be home for the first time in a month, but they’re not letting this one get away. They welcome the Titans a few days later for Thursday Night Football. That’s a team that will be taking a step back this season with the trade of AJ Brown and uncertainty at QB. Will Ryan Tannehill or rookie Malik Willis be the starter. Doesn’t matter, the Pack stays perfect at Lambeau.

    They’re back in primetime after a mini-bye against the Eagles in Philly on Sunday night. I think that team wins the NFC East this year and this will be a big statement opportunity for them. I think they take advantage of it and beat the Pack. But Green Bay bounces back in Chicago in Week 13, to send the team into the bye feeling good about their chances down the stretch. Third quarter record: 3-1. Overall: 9-4.

    Fourth Quarter: It starts off with the biggest home game of the season as the Super Bowl champs pay a visit on Monday Night Football. Packers get an advantage coming off the bye, but the Rams will have played the previous Thursday night, so they’ll be well rested too. Matthew Stafford at Lambeau in December? We know how that story ends. This one should be a classic and who knows, maybe OBJ will make the game-winning catch for the Pack against the team he won a ring with last season. The only road game left is the Christmas Day game in Miami and this one is a wildcard. It’s hard to know what to make of the Dolphins, but this will likely be their Super Bowl and the Pack’s track record in Florida isn’t great. Neither was their performance last Christmas. I think the Fins spring the upset.

    They close with division home games against the Vikes and Lions and they’re not losing either of those. Fourth quarter record: 3-1. Overall: 12-5. I could probably be talked into a win in Miami, but 12 or 13 wins sounds about right to me. That probably won’t be good enough to wrap up the #1 seed, but after the last two years do we really even want the #1 seed?

    With Jenkins and Tonyan returning within the season and the rookie first rounders and WRs likely getting more comfortable as the season goes on, the Pack should get better as the season goes along. That goes for all three units—maybe most importantly the new look special teams. With Rodgers under center, the season will be special. The question is, will it be Super?

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