The Green Bay Packers sit in first place in the NFC North after week seven of the NFL season with a 4-2 record. Looking at the final 10 games of the Packers schedule, the Packers could very easily win all ten games. In the next two weeks, the Packers will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings, and then host the Chicago Bears in a Monday night showdown.
First, let’s take a look at the game against the Vikings. After being a ten win playoff team last season, the Vikings are a dismal 1-5, and are already on their third quarterback of the season with Josh Freeman. On Monday night against the New York Giants, Freeman was awful and the entire offense looked out of sync. The only touchdown the Vikings scored was on a punt return. Even though they are depleted by injuries, the Packers are a way better team than the Giants, and Aaron Rodgers will have an easy time picking apart the Vikings secondary, who are now without safety Harrison Smith for the rest of the year.
Another team that’s hurt by injuries is the Bears. Last week against the Washington Redskins, the Bears lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs for at least four weeks. With Cutler out, the Bears will likely turn to Josh McCown to take on the Packers. In 2011, with Cutler hurt, the Bears started McCown late in the year against the Packers, a game in which McCown threw two interceptions in a Packers victory. Now with Briggs out too, the Bears will not have their leader in the heart of the defense.
After those two games, the Packers take on a pair of NFC East teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and those Giants. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was expected to set the world on fire with his extreme up tempo offense, but after seven games, that offense is proving college and pro football are two different games. Aside from the new offense, the Eagles are also down to their third string quarterback in Matt Barkley, after Michael Vick suffered a hamstring injury and Nick Foles suffered a concussion. Barkley did not look good in relief of Foles, as he threw three interceptions and led zero touchdown drives against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants finally won their first game of the year against the Vikings on Monday night, and for now, all is right in the world in New York. But, as pathetic as the Vikings looked, the Giants did not look very pretty against them, and if the Giants start struggling again, Eli Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin will once again be on the hot seat.
After a home game against the lowly Vikings, the Packers toughest test of the regular season might be a Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Detroit Lions. When these two teams met three weeks ago, the Packers beat a Calvin Johnson-less Lions team. Come Thanksgiving, the one they call “Megatron” will more than likely be healthy, and the Packers will face their toughest of the final team games.
Before the start of the season, I thought the toughest part of the Packers schedule would be weeks 14-16, when they play the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But now, the Falcons are 2-4 and are without star wide receiver Julio Jones for the season, the Cowboys are a sketchy 4-3 leader of the NFC East, and the Steelers have won their last two games after losing their first four. All three teams look to be in trouble, and by that time of the year, the Packers will have most of their injured weapons back. The Packers end the season on the road against the Bears, though they might not have anything to gain by trying to win that game.
Before the season started, I predicted that the Packers would finish the first half of the season 6-2. If they win these next two games against the Vikings and Bears, they finish the first half 6-2. With such a weak remaining schedule, the Packers could very easily run the table the rest of the way, and the road to the Super Bowl might just go through Lambeau Field.