Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Packers 2013 Strength of Schedule: 12-1

It's time to continue in the strength of schedule series that I started a few weeks back.  I'm going to countdown from 12-1 in the strength of our opponents this season.  But let's recap through 16-13 of the opponents on the schedule.

16.  Week 7-Cleveland Browns
15.  Week 5-Detroit Lions
14.  Week 10-Philadelphia Eagles
13.  Week 16-Pittsburgh Steelers

12.  Week 9-Chicago Bears (11/4)

Chicago has a lot of transition going on this season.  Going from Lovie Smith to Marc Trestman, and no longer having Brian Urlacher as the face of the franchise.  They have tried to revamp their offensive line.  They have brought in many new free agents, and have many of their current team is on the last year of a contract.  Of course they have Cutler, Forte and Marshall, plus they did win 10 games last season.  This is not a slight to the Bears, I just believe that the Packers have a very difficult schedule this year.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Julius Peppers (6 yr, 84M)
  2. Devin Hester (4 yr, 40.9M)
  3. Brandon Marshall (5 yr, 44.7M)
The first time they face us is in week 9, it's at home, so it had to be higher on the list than many of the other games that remain.

11.  Week 12-Minnesota Vikings (11/24)

Minnesota, I don't really want to spend a lot of time discussing the things that have happened this offseason with the Vikings and Packers, with Jennings and Bishop, but they had 3 1st round draft picks in the most recent draft, with Floyd, Rhodes, and Patterson.  They still need to develop more depth at linebacker and 3 of the defensive lineman are on their last year of their contract.  Ponder still is not a top rate quarterback, and with this game being at home, the Packers have won all but one game against the Vikings at home since 2006, and that was the 2009 game when the Vikings had Favre, a game we would all rather forget.  They have put a target on our back, which makes a lot of sense since we have won the Super Bowl, won the division the last 2 seasons, and eliminated them from the playoffs last year, like the Packers are putting a target on the back of the 49ers.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Adrian Peterson (7yr, 96M)
  2. Jared Allen (6yr, 73.2M)
  3. Greg Jennings (5yr, 45M)
The Vikings will continue to be a strong contender.  They made the playoffs last year and they have a strong offensive line, but I don't think they can be a Super Bowl contender until they get a better quarterback.

10.  Week 15-At Dallas Cowboys (12/15)

Dallas is a team that you are never really certain what to expect from them.  I am putting them on the middle of the pack, but they are my worst road opponent, partially because the game is in December, which is when the Cowboys tend to struggle.  They are switching defenses again this offseason.  The Packers have won the last two games against the Cowboys, of course, one of the Jon Kitna started, and the other one was 4 years ago.  Spencer Havner had a touchdown reception in that game.  I largely believe that Dallas is not exactly a big threat, they could win their division, but can Tony Romo put together 3 or 4 good games to win a Super Bowl, I certainly would disagree.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Tony Romo (7yr, 119M)
  2. DeMarcus Ware (7yr, 78M)
  3. Anthony Spencer (1yr, 10.6M)
The Cowboys just are not on the upper half of the teams who I think could win this season.  At least not on our schedule to be certain.

9.  Week 13-At Detroit Lions (11/28)

Happy early Thanksgiving.  The reason this was rated above the Cowboys game is because we have 2 divisional games within 5 days, but they are the Vikings at home (listed above), and then the Lions game.  The last time we lost to the Lions without Aaron Rodgers getting a concussion was 9/11/05.  Sadly, Joey Harrington was their quarterback.  The last time we lost to them on Thanksgiving was 11/27/03.  The Lions are just quite behind the scale of where they need to be.  They cannot be considered Super Bowl contenders, even though they are on a bounce back year, they have no playoff wins for quite some time.  In my last post I highlighted the 3 highest players on the Lions.

8.  Week 17-At Chicago Bears (12/29)

Could this be like our week 17 game last year, win to keep a team out of the playoffs?  That would definitely be a surprise, but clearly playing at Soldier field to end the season isn't exactly what I am looking for.  I would love to open or close a season at home some time soon.  Clearly I discussed the recent changes with the Bears a few paragraphs ago, so I will leave that alone for now.

7.  Week 2-Washington (9/15)

All playoff teams from here on in, except one.  This is another potential read option test, or we might be seeing how well RG3 can play in the pocket.  I'm assuming that Washington would be foolish to not at least try some looks at us, seeing how we struggled with it in the playoffs last year.  It is our home opener, but Washington was a playoff game last year and they finished the year strong winning most of their games to finish the season.  I think Washington will take a step back this season, people are going to gameplan the read option better than they did last year, just like in year 2 of the wildcat.  But they still deserve respect, and their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Trent Williams (6yr, 59.9M)
  2. Pierre Garcon (5yr, 42.5M)
  3. Barry Cofield (6yr, 36M)
Washington beat us in our last matchup, and Donovan McNabb was their quarterback.  We are 18-14-1 all time against Washington.  Hopefully we are going to be able to beat them and keep an edge on our all time series.

6.  Week 8-At Minnesota Vikings (10/27)

Something about that dome.  I personally get irritated by it, and it probably wouldn't be quite as bad if we could have just eliminated them in the final game last year, instead of them getting into the playoffs and then playing Joe Webb.  Peterson is always strong, but hopefully he doesn't completely tear us up defensively with long runs.  Having highlighted them earlier, I will leave this alone.

5.  Week 6-At Baltimore Ravens (10/13)

It's rare to put the defending Super Bowl champs down this many spots on your strength of schedule, but they have just lost so many people, Pitta is hurt, Boldin, Reed, Lewis are all gone.  But Flacco, Rice, Smith, and Suggs remain.  I just have a tough time seeing them be able to attempt to repeat as champions after last season.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Joe Flacco (6yr, 120.6M)
  2. Terrell Suggs (6yr, 62.5M)
  3. Haloti Ngata (5yr, 48.5M)
The Ravens are going to be tough as long as they keep their core of offense together.  But I think they have lost too much on defense in order for me to put them in the top 4 of our opponents this season.

4.  Week 3-At Cincinnati Bengals (9/22)

The Bengals are a team that seems to be trying to do things the right way.  Building through the draft with Dalton and Green.  Being strong on defense up front with Geno Atkins.  Being in the playoffs 2 years in a row now.  Its tough to know exactly how they will use their newest picks, Eifert and Bernard, since they already have depth at both positions, but seem to be doing a BPA draft strategy recently, which they've been needing to do for quite some time.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Michael Johnson (1yr, 11.1M)
  2. Leon Hall (5yr, 42.3M)
  3. Carlos Dunlap (6yr, 40M)
All 3 highest paid players are on defense, and when they are in trouble with needing to sign Green and Dalton in the near future.  It seems like Marvin Lewis is getting them on the right track.  The next 3 opponents I would put in a higher difficulty level than all the rest.

3.  Week 11-At New York Giants (11/17)

I don't know if the New York Giants are still a "kryponite" team to us, and part of why I think we are focused on our running game is because their pass rush is impressive when they have the right parts of their defensive line all ready to go at once.  The Giants missed the playoffs last year, and in week 17, I was cheering for the Bears so that the Giants wouldn't make the playoffs, which just goes to show how strange fandom can be at times.  Plus, losing to them 38-10 last year in New York doesn't make me feel great about this game either.  This will be about the same time of the year.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Eli Manning (7yr, 106M)--this seems like a steal right now
  2. Victor Cruz (6yr, 45.8M)
  3. William Beatty (5yr, 37.5M)
Please, even though I think the 2nd half of our schedule is easier than our first, this game and one other toward the end of the season I am hoping are not even close to must win games.

2.  Week 14-Atlanta Falcons (12/8)

The best news for this game is that it is after our Thanksgiving day game.  Mike Smith and Matt Ryan are dynamite together for the regular season, going 56-24 (thanks TMQ).  The other great news factor for this game is it is a home game.  Just too many offensive weapons (Ryan, Jackson, White, Gonzalez, Jones).  for me to put them lower on the list.  They come into every game with a strong chance to win.  There is so much for us to focus on.  Their highest 3 paid players are:
  1. Matt Ryan (6yr, 113M)
  2. Roddy White (6yr, 42.7M)
  3. Tony Gonzalez (2 yr, 14M)
Just for the record, they have Osi Umenyiora now too.  I just think with a lot of firepower on both sides of the ball, they are a dangerous team to watch on our schedule this season, but of course not as much as....

1.  Week 1-At San Francisco 49ers.  (9/8)

Is there anyway that we can just get to this game already.  I would rather us show up and beat the 49ers by 3 Touchdowns than beat the Seahawks at this point.  I just feel like everytime people talk about their success, it is at our demise, not at how they went on to beat the best record in the NFC last year in the Falcons on the road, but because we have a stronger history, we are the ones who keep getting slung into the mud.  I guess I am thankful that they didn't win the Super Bowl (Packers-Ravens connection!!), Ravens fans rooted for us to beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.  But at this point I just want people to calm down about Colin Kaepernick, who is highly overrated for a QB who has only started in 10 games, with a 7-3 record.  I'm not saying that he is a bad QB, but people seem to be putting him in the elite range of quarterback, when there is such a small sample size, and he has an absolutely fantastic defense.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Patrick Willis (7yr, 53.5M)
  2. Carlos Rogers (4yr, 29.4M)
  3. Vernon Davis (6yr, 42.7M)
Alright Packers fans, where did I make some mistakes if any on here.  Who am I underrating and who am I overrating as far as Packers opponents go?  Let me know either in the comments section or over at the Packer Addicts forum.

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