By Rex Sheild @RexfordJunior on April 24, 2014
The 2014 NFL schedule was released on Wednesday, and the Green Bay Packers will have no slouch of an opening weekend contest, traveling to Seattle to face off against the defending Super Bowl Champions. In total, the national audience will get a glimpse of head coach Mike McCarthy's squad five times throughout the season. Let's see how the 2014 slate of games will pan out for the Packers.
It is coming up on the two-year anniversary of 'Fail Mary,' and the Packers will look to look to avenge the botched play against the reigning Super Bowl champs in week 1 at CenturyLink Field. While the Packers can certainly hold their own against the Seahawks' stifling defense, the combo of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch is too overpowering against Green Bay's D.
Prediction: Seattle 28-24
Throughout the 2012-13 season, the Jets' defense led the way to the team's 9-7 record, but were significantly held back from competing for the AFC East with the inconsistent play of quarterback Geno Smith. The biggest reason for this can be pointed to his 34th-best QBR of 35.9. While the team added wide receiver Eric Decker in the offseason, it won't be enough against the Pack.
Prediction: Green Bay 27-17
The Lions will once again boast a dynamic offense with playmakers galore, including new arrivee Golden Tate, but their 2014-15 success will come down to the play of the defense. Though the Packers don't hold as many offensive weapons as they did last year with the departures of Jermichael Finley and James Jones, Aaron Rodgers will not want to start 1-2 for the second consecutive year.
Prediction: Green Bay 35-31
The last time these two historic rivals faced off, Aaron Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb on a broken play to clinch the franchise's third-consecutive division crown. Jay Cutler and his potent offense will get a chance to redeem themselves. Ultimately, it will come down to who gets stops, which makes me lean toward the Bears.
Prediction: Chicago 27-24
The Packers and Vikings tied, the last time they faced off. The biggest detriment to Minnesota contending for a playoff berth in 2014 is the play of whoever is under center. Whether it's Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder, or a rookie quarterback, they simply cannot compete with the Packers' offensive weapons; not to mention, Minny's defense is too shaky.
Prediction: Green Bay 31-17
This matchup will be the reunion of former co-workers when Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin meet at midfield. Will year three of Ryan Tannehill's NFL career be a sign of progress or demise for the Dolphins in 2014? Ultimately, that's going to be the tale of the season down in South Beach, but it will take a road bump in this one. An interesting matchup to keep an eye out for is between Sam Shields and Mike Wallace.
Prediction: Green Bay 24-20
The two ball clubs will face off for the first time since Cam Newton's 2011 rookie year, but the Panthers are significantly better since then under Ron Rivera. Yet, Carolina's lack of any dynamic offensive playmakers will be the difference at Lambeau Field.
Prediction: Green Bay 26-17
Up until this point, the Packers have tallied a 6-1 record, but that will certainly change on NBC's Sunday Night Football in New Orleans. While the Saints are just fine with riding the back of Drew Brees, Rob Ryan's defense was much improved last year, and I don't think that trend will stop in 2014. A player who is going to make the biggest difference in this one? Hard-hitting safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Prediction: NOLA 34-24
It's a sight that no one wanted to see under the lights at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football, and one can only hope Rodgers stays upright in this Week 10 contest. If the Packers can stay healthy up to this point, there's no reason to believe otherwise that Green Bay won't be in strong contention at the top of the NFC North standings, and this game will cement that fact.
Prediction: Green Bay 31-23
Under first-year head coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles made their way back on top of the NFC East standings. But DeSean Jackson is gone and Jeremy Maclin missed all of last season with an ACL injury, so where will the offense come from. That said, Nick Foles is one of the league's rising stars and will shine against the Packers' secondary, combined with the shifty moves of LeSean McCoy.
Prediction: Philly 31-28
For the first time when the Packers travel to Minnesota, there will be no horn blowing inside the Metrodome, with the Vikings moving to nearby TCF Bank. Green Bay's offense will be on its game after last week's loss, headlined by Eddie Lacy bulldozing over would-be tacklers. Yet, don't be surprised if it's a closer game than expected.
Prediction: Green Bay 30-23
It doesn't get much better than two legendary quarterbacks facing off. As will be the case for a lot of Green Bay's contests, it will come down to how the defense performs when the team needs a critical stop, and I think they will finally prove their worth against a star-powered gunslinger.
Prediction: Green Bay 34-28
The Falcons' 2013 disappointing season was largely due to injuries of Roddy White and Julio Jones, but the lack of play inside the trenches, both on the offensive and defensive line, was the true difference. What makes 2014 difficult for Atlanta is the fact the division is only going to continue to get better. Will the team make enough moves during the draft to fix the aforementioned weaknesses? I don't think so.
Prediction: Green Bay 38-21
It's always tough to play in Buffalo in December with frigid temperatures and rowdy fans, but the Bills are very similar to the Jets in the sense that the quarterback play is shaky. Like Smith, E.J. Manuel had a rocky rookie campaign, posting a 42.3 QBR. While he has options on the outside, the Packers' defense will tighten up and frustrate the second-year QB.
Prediction: Green Bay 35-17
McCarthy will reunite with former member of the NFC North coaching fraternity as he faces off against Lovie Smith and Tampa Bay. Vincent Jackson might prove as a matchup nightmare for the deep end of Green Bay's secondary, especially with former Chicago gunslinger Josh McCown under center. Doug Martin returns from a shoulder injury, but the Bucs don't have enough pieces just yet.
Prediction: Green Bay 27-16
Simply put, with the NFC North title on the line, Aaron Rodgers and co. will not falter in front of the raucous home-field advantage. Will the sky be the limit for the Packers during the 2014 season and the playoffs? There's reason to believe it.
Prediction: Green Bay 31-21
Final record: 13-3
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