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NFL Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers’ Top 5 Toughest 2013 Opponents

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Green Bay Packers' Top 5 Toughest 2013 Opponents

Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports

Allow me to commence my whining on how tough the Green Bay Packers’ 2013 season is going to be. Though the schedule is not yet out, the Packers do know whom they will be playing next season and, man, is it brutal.

Six of their 13 opponents (I’m only counting Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions once) were 2012 playoff teams. Two of them played in the Super Bowl. One won their conference and were tied for the best record in the league. Of the seven non-playoff teams, three were in contention for the postseason up until the final week of the regular season (Chicago, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys). Of the four non-playoff teams that were not in contention in Week 17, three have serious talent (Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Detroit).

Thank God for the Cleveland Browns.

Honestly, of the Packers’ 16 games next season, hosting the Browns at Lambeau Field is the only gimme. The other 15 games rank from That-Could-Be-a-Good-Game to Oh-Boy-I-Hope-Their-Superstar-Goes-Down-With-an-Injury-the-Week-Before-We-Play-Them.

The only disclaimer is that NFL teams change year-to-year more than any other sport. There are always a couple of preseason picks that bomb and at least a few sleeper teams that play better than anyone expected. I just hope 2013 is a season that sees a lot of strong 2012 teams fall.

Here are the eight home games the Packers will play: Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington Redskins.

Their eight road games are: Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas, New York Giants, and San Francisco 49ers.

Yikes. Click through at the top of the page to see which teams will pose the 5 Toughest Games for the 2013 Packers.

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Vs. Washington Redskins

Daniel Shirey - USA Today Sports

This all depends, of course, on if Robert Griffin III is playing. If so, the Redskins pose a huge defensive challenge for Green Bay. Griffin, to me, is the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in that he is equally talented in both running and throwing.

This is a case of Washington’s strengths - they were 1st in the league in rushing yards in 2012, 5th in opponent rushing yards allowed - matching up terribly with the Packers' weaknesses - Green Bay was 17th in opponent rushing yards and 20th in rushing yards.

Let’s hope this game comes early in the season before RGIII is done rehabbing his knee.

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At Chicago Bears

Tim Fuller - USA Today Sports

I hate to give any credit to the Bears, but Soldier Field is always a tough venue to play, especially later in the year as the weather gets more frigid. I think the Bears of 2013 will look much more like the Bears of the second half of 2012 than the first half (i.e. disappointing), but Jay Cutler has a great connection with Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte is a bruising all-around back, and that secondary has eclipsed the defensive line in fearsomeness.

If the Packers can get some pressure on Cutler, Cutler will do the rest for a Green Bay victory.

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Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jason Bridge - USA Today Sports

Green Bay has only played Pittsburgh twice in the last four seasons - once in 2009 and once in the 2010 Super Bowl - and both games were highly entertaining and close. These two teams match up very well together.

I’m not a huge believer in Ben Roethlisberger being “elite” or whatever category you want to make up, but I have to say, there’s no other opposing quarterback who scares me more in the fourth quarter.

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At San Francisco 49ers

Kirby Lee - USA Today Sports

Ugh. I still haven’t forgiven the Niners for ousting the Packers from the playoffs. If I can look past that huge strike against them, I have to admit that they’re a darn good team that stand in the way of the Packers’ - and any NFC team for the matter - path to the 2013 Super Bowl.

They may have lost the Super Bowl, but every team in the NFL is going into the offseason with San Fran in mind. Teams are going to try to build defenses that can stop Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and offenses that can make gains against Patrick Willis & Co.

Plus this one’s at San Fran. Oof.

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At New York Giants

Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

I don’t know what it is about the Giants, but they terrify Packers fans. I more than a little biased and believe Green Bay can beat any team at any time … but I wouldn’t put any money on them versus the Giants.

For whatever reasons, the Giants just seem to have Green Bay’s number. To put it in perspective, of the Packers' last 64 games, they’ve only lost three games by more than one score. Once was just a few weeks ago to the Niners, the other two were to the New York Giants.

Even though I don’t think the Giants are anywhere close to the best team in the league or even the best team on the Packers' 2013 schedule, this is the game that makes me most nervous.