/ Opinions / Green and Gold schedule: Packers play tough QBs
I’ve been previewing the Packers roster and all the position battles that will happen this camp. Now, I’m going to make my prediction for the 2020 schedule.
It all starts with a trip to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 13 at noon on FOX. It doesn’t get any better than that to open a season.
A road game to open a season is no easy task, especially with no preseason games played. But, there will be little to no fans in the stadium, which is huge. The Packers have struggled with the noise in U.S. Bank Stadium, so this is going to be a huge plus for the Packers.
There is no doubt in my mind the Vikings will still feed off the energy of any noise and music that is present. The Packers will have to be wary of that.
The key to this game is who can shake off the rust and play the fastest. We saw the Packers and Chicago Bears struggle in last year’s opener when Green Bay won 10-3. The offense looked off and out of sync, and that was with four preseason games.
No preseason games, but this is year 2 in head coach Matt LaFleur’s system and year 3 in defense coordinator Mike Pettine’s system.
The Vikings have a lot of new cornerbacks who will not be battle-tested yet. The Packers offense returns many of the same pieces from last season, so quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take advantage of the young and new corners.
Meanwhile, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins doesn’t have Stefon Diggs anymore. That could be important. I’m going to say Packers win 23-13.
Game two is against the Detroit Lions in the Packers’ home debut. The Packers already stated they will have no fans for the first two home games.
Matthew Stafford is going to come out gunning right away. We don’t have as much success against the Lions anymore, even at Lambeau. The Lions aren’t afraid.
This is when Aaron Jones’ takes over. I think he will have over 100 scrimmage yards in the game and two touchdowns. The Packers are comfortable at home and rely on the Smith Bros. to corral Stafford. Packers win 27-19.
Game number three is at the New Orleans Saints. This is a house of horrors for Green Bay. Since I’ve become a fan of the Packers in 2003, we maybe have won in New Orleans once. Since 2010, it’s been zero. This is a tough place to play and Drew Brees is a tough customer.
Brees and wide receiver Michael Thomas connect for over 120 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers has his best game of the season with three touchdowns, including a deep one to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. But Brees closes it out for the 28-24 win.
Game four comes against the Atlanta Falcons in the Packers’ second home game. This one is on Monday Night Football. Rodgers vs. Matty Ice. This should be a showdown as the Packers continue their journey of playing solid NFL quarterbacks.
Green Bay owns Atlanta at home as of late. Rodgers continues his hot streak and the defense gets a defensive score for a touchdown. Cornerback Jaire Alexander and company hold Julio Jones to under 100 yards. Packers win 32-20 and improve to 3-1 heading into the bye.
Game 5 is one that is circled on my calendar. The Packers travel to Tompa Bay or Tampa Tom to play Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. It’ll be Rodgers v. Brady Part III. The series is split at 1-1.
But it is a team game. The Buccaneers have a great team. Yes, the Packers are coming off a bye week, but this isn’t Mike McCarthy anymore. LaFleur struggled to get the team ready coming off the bye last year.
Brady will have started to get more comfortable by now and dishing it to receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Jones scores three touchdowns as the Packers rely on their run game. Brady does what he does best and closes out the game with two scores. Buccaneers win 34-24.
For my preview of the middle of the Packers’ schedule, check out the Friday, Aug. 28 edition of The Times.