It's been a while since we last chatted (in a blogger-bloggee sense, that is). Somehow, four months have elapsed. Holy inactive list, Batman! What's been going on? Well, we've just been doing a lot of watching rather than writing. An extended hiatus...which some might argue we took just to be able to use the word "hiatus" in a sports blog. Be that as it may, let's get on with things, shall we? We're long overdue.
Roster set, expectations high
At least for the first game of the regular season, the Packers 53-man roster is in place. The big surprises -- not only in terms of the who but the when -- came in the form of the release of long-time veterans, punter Tim Masthay and offensive guard Josh Sitton. Sitton, especially, was a surprise. No need to go into the reasons why; any Packer fan worth his or her brat-and-a-beer will know the reasons. But all in all, we have to look optimistically at this deep, albeit young Packers roster. Barring injuries to QB Aaron Rodgers and other key personnel, or a re-injury to Jordy Nelson (yes, he's key too, isn't he?), the Packers are among the favorites to go to the Super Bowl and win. Depending upon whom are reading or what oddsmakers you are following, the Packers are the favorites.
(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
We'll make our Packers vs. Jaguars prediction a bit closer to game time. What we wish to do here is take a gander at the entire 2016 schedule and make our call about the Pack's record at the end of the season and heading into the playoffs. Yes, spoiler alert: playoffs here we come!
We make our season wins-losses call not based upon individual games per se (although that obviously does factor in), but rather we've had a tradition here of breaking down the season into quarters, much as a game itself is played. Having said that, let's look at each quarter and make our calls.
Weeks 1-4: September 11-October 9
In order, the Packers play the Jaguars and Vikings on the road in the first two weeks, followed by the Lions at Lambeau Field. Then...a bye in week 4. Yeah, not ideal to say the least but it is the hand the Pack has been dealt. The tradeoff, overall, is that the Packers actually will play the easiest schedule in the NFL based on 2015 records. So, that's a good thing...considering. While the Pack could have a stumble in the heat in the season opener in Jacksonville against a much-improved Jags team, the Packers should prevail. Minnesota will be playing its first home game in its new stadium and the border rivalry will be on full display. Given that the ViQueens unseated the Packers atop the NFC North last season, this, again, could be a game in which the Packers stumble. Although there's that rather unsettled quarterback situation there these days after the injury to Teddy Bridgewater, so...? As for the Lions at Lambeau, c'mon.
Our call: 2-1.
Weeks 5-8: October 9-30
Three home games following the bye week and then one on the road: Giants, Cowboys and Da Bearz and then off to Atlanta to play the Dirty Birds. The Packers need to do a better job holding serve at home than they did last year, so we'll say this quarter's worth of season games is a sweep.
Our call: 4-0.
Weeks 9-12: November 6-28
The Pack's goofy home-away schedule continues in this quartet of games: Colts at Lambeau, followed by three straight road games at the Titans, Redskins and Eagles. As things get into and beyond the middle of the season, we can see one of these games registering as a loss, particularly given the steady diet of road games.
Our call: 3-1.
Weeks 13-17: December 4-January 1, 2017
OK, technically this isn't a quarter of games because of the 17 weeks (including the bye) needed to actually get 16 games played. I know, it's confusing. Just go with it. This five-game stretch run actually is the most sensible part of the season schedule, at least from a travel standpoint. Three out of the five games are at home. While the final three games are against NFC North opponents, two out of the three -- including the final game on New Year's Day -- are on the road. In this stretch, the Packers play the Texans and Seahawks at Lambeau, then Da Bearz in Chicago, return home to play the ViQueens, and then conclude the season in Detroit against the Lions. Not having a break since week 4, the length of the season -- despite the supposed easiest schedule based upon last year's standings -- will take its toll.
Our call: 3-2.
2016 Season Predication: 12-4. The Packers will once again be atop the NFC North and get a much-needed bye going into the playoffs. They'll need it.
Check back in again for our preview and prediction for Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
Thanks for reading. Go Pack Go!!!