Pre-Preseason Packers Game-by-game Predictions
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider senior editor
~As training camps start to roll across the National Football League, ending Aaron Rodgers’ golf season, it’s time for me to make my first seasonal prediction for the Packers.
Obviously, there will be some injuries, hopefully minor. Those will factor in my end of Preseason predictions.
For now, here it goes, game by game.
Game 1- at Seattle on NBC Thursday
I think the Packers can win this game, and would put it at about 35%. But I’ll expect the Seahawks at home to punch in their drives for touchdowns three times, whereas I can see the Packers settling for three field goals. They struggled in the red zone last year, including with Aaron Rodgers under center. If they can fix this, I can see a 14 win season. But for this game, in that loud stadium, I’m not ready to proclaim that fixed. Seattle’s three touchdowns and one field goal beat the Packers 3 field goals and one touchdown, 24-16. Good points for Mason Crosby though if you have him in your fantasy league. Packers fall to 0-1, for the third straight season. Seahawks win 24-16.
Game 2- vs NY Jets
That’s right, a shutout. For the Packers. Extremely rare. But the defense will be ticked off after the loss in Seattle. And they will have an extra three days to prepare for this matchup. Geno Smith? I think he’s never going to even come close to the successes that both Vince Young and Tim Tebow had. And they’re both out of the league. Perhaps Michael Vick will be the QB though, and if so, I’d change this prediction to 27-10. But with Geno, I can see him slinging a few to Sam Shields or Traymon Williams. Heck, maybe even a Packer safety will make a catch. Packers move to 1-1, for the third straight season. Packers win 31-0.
Game 3- at Detroit
Although the Seahawks game might be the most exciting game of the season, the most hype, here is the first somewhat-important game of the season. Losing here would give the Lions hope, possibly springing them to a good season, and it will certainly put the Packers near or at the bottom of the division, albeit early. Remember last year in Detroit was a disgusting shellacking by Detroit on the Rodgers-less Packers on Thanksgiving. It was the most one-sided loss I can remember for the Packers, dating back to the 2006 home loss to the Patriots in a game that Favre exited injured, and Rodgers came in and broke his foot, but finished the game.
The Lions are loaded on offense, and their front-four on defense is legit. If both teams are healthy, I’d expect the Packers to win 34-24. I do expect the Packers defense to be a lot better this season, even a strength, if they are relatively healthy. Packers win and move to 2-1, tied with the Bears at the top of the division.
Game 4- at Chicago
Speaking of the Bears, here we go to finish the first quarter of the season. It will still be September, but this is a big game early. We’ve seen teams get off to bad starts, and snowball downwards. And we’ve seen teams get off to good starts, even lucky wins early, and it propels them to a nice 10 or 11-win season. This game could have ramifications like that.
All things considered, and realizing the Bears loaded weapons at WR and TE are big, tall and physical, I still like the way the Packers matchup with the Bears. The week 17 thriller last year was against a Packers team who was very banged up, and with a rusty Rodgers and Cobb.
This week, I expect the Packers to make a statement and put a beatdown on the Bears to the tune of 38-20. I can see Rodgers lighting the Bears up on a nice September afternoon. Packers win, go to 3-1, and prepare to run away with the division like in 2011 and 2012.
Game 5- vs Minnesota
The Vikings are a very interesting team. On one hand, with shakiness at QB, I can see them being as bad as 3-13 or 4-12. On the other hand, they’re extremely talented at RB, WR, TE, and the OL. With good QB play, I can see them going over .500 and contesting for a playoff spot, like two seasons ago.
Matt Cassell is the best QB for the Vikings right now, in my opinion, without question. Who will start, in week four, is a total crapshoot, but I can see the Packers winning 27-17, going to 4-1 with a perfect 3-0 division record.
Game 6- at Miami
I was hoping the Miami game would be in December to give Cheesehead Nation a nice winter get-away. But it’s in mid-October. It probably will still be about 80 degrees and humid, which might pose a challenge to the Packers.
While I like Ryan Tannehill, I don’t see them winning more than six games this season under former Packer offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. This won’t be one of those wins.
Packers win their fifth straight game, 31-13, and move to 5-1, tied for the best record in the NFC.
Game 7- vs Carolina
Cam Newton’s Panthers figure to have a step-back this season after surprisingly winning the NFC South last year. They lost all their experienced receivers, and their best player on defense, Greg Hardy, could very possibly be either in prison or at least suspended. I think Carolina will struggle this season, and this won’t be one of their wins. Look for the Packers to have another home blowout win here, to the tune of 37-17. Although the Panthers have a good defense, it’s no match for the high-octane Packers offense. Rodgers and Eddie Lacy will roll. Packers win their sixth straight, moving to 6-1 as they travel South to the Big Breesy.
Game 8- at New Orleans on NBC
This game will pit the 6-1 Packers against the 5-1 Saints (they have a week 6 bye), in a game that very well could have playoff seeding ramifications come the end of December.
The Packers have had success recently against the Saints, but only in Green Bay. But both wins, in 2011 and 2012, were close games in which Brees had plenty of success.
The last time these teams and Rodgers met in the Superdome, it was blowout city as Brees carved up the Packers like a brain surgeon. It was as good of game as Brees has ever had.
Like I said, I do expect (or hope) the Packers defense to be better this year, even a strength. But this is not the guy, or offense, that they tend to fare well against. If Rodgers is not perfect, I don’t see the Packers winning this one. Now he could be perfect, but I’ll go with the odds here and say he’s close, but not perfect. Saints win 31-27 in a great NBC Sunday Night showcase game. Packers head into bye off a loss, but at 6-2.
Game 9- vs Chicago on NBC
The Bears will be angry after the Packers spanked them in their home den six weeks earlier. But this is Jay Cutler, and he doesn’t seem to enjoy playing in Green Bay. With Julius Peppers now after him too, it’s not going to get any easier for Cutler at Lambeau. He is happy he won’t be throwing any passes to Nick Collins or Charles Woodson anymore. But a different #21, Haha Clinton-Dix, might be lurking back there. So will Sam Shields and Tramon Williams.
The Bears did, yes, win at Lambeau last year, but it took the broken collar bone of Rodgers for them to be able to do that. The Packers, with Seneca Wallace, almost won that game. If all bullets are available to the Packers (which we know they won’t be, but which bullets are missing is the key), look for the Packers to put on another beatdown of the Bears, on national TV, 38-14. Two Cutler touchdown passes to Alshon and Brandon don’t offset his two interceptions and one strip-sack fumble. Packers go to 7-2. Bears fall to 5-4.
Game 10- vs Philadelphia
This is a rematch of the atrocious home loss last year by the third string Scott Tolzein Packers. The Eagles are the best team in the NFC East and probably will win that division, unless the Giants bounce back up. So this is a playoff-type game.
Nick Foles had perhaps the greatest season for a QB that nobody talks about last year.
He put up numbers that used to get MVP talk for. Runningback Lesean Shady McCoy is great, and he hurt the Packers last year.
However, I think the Packers are about 10 points better if both QB’s are healthy. Packers win 30-20, and move to 8-2, tied with the Saints, Niners, and Seahawks for the best record in the NFC.
Game 11- at Minnesota
Even without the randomness of injuries, who knows who the Vikings QB will be come late November. Again, I think Cassell is decent, and is their best option. He could play well and they could be 6-4, even 7-3 if things go well. Or they could be 2-8 at this point and on their second or third QB already.
They usually get up for the Packers visit. But this won’t be the fake-noisy Metrodome. This will be the Gophers outdoor TCF Stadium.
If the Vikings are closer to 2-8 at this point in time than 7-3, there will be more Packer fans there than normal. I like the Packers in this one, as no Jared Allen will help Rodgers. Packers win 24-17 in a close game. Packers move to 9-2.
Game 12- vs New England
Finally, will we have a Brady vs Rodgers matchup? I bet not. I bet one of them is out injured for the game. But betting aside, if both guys are here, this is a delicious game. And it’s why CBS protected this game so it wasn’t stolen for primetime.
Rob Gronkowski’s injury was one of, if not THE, biggest impact injury of the whole NFL last year. He suffered a similar hit as Randall Cobb did, which I have said is dirty although legal. But Gronk’s was much worse. I don’t think Gronk will ever be the same as before. For sure mentally he won’t, but physically he won’t either. Cobb, physically, should be.
Anyway, the Patriots added not one but two great cornerbacks this off-season in Revis and the big beast from Seattle Brandon Browner. That’s a great combo. So I expect their defense to be good once again.
Still, the Packers are a little better in the running and passing game, and at home.
Packers win 27-24 to close out November at 10-2, tied for the best record in the NFL and NFC with the Saints.
Game 13- vs Atlanta on ESPN
I believe Atlanta will bounce back from a down year last year. I think they’ll win about 10 games, and this will be a tough test. If Gronk wasn’t the biggest loss last year, it might have been Julio Jones for the Falcons. He might be the best receiver in the game aside from Megatron. He’s that important. And Steven Jackson was banged up last year too. This is a good team, who finally might have upgraded their offensive line and defense this off-season. If the Packers aren’t on their A-game, or at least B+ game, this could be a home loss. But I think McCarthy will outcoach Mike Smith, and the Packers will win again, 30-23, and move to 11-2.
Game 14- at Buffalo
The Bills are another team who I think will struggle this season because of QB issues. They invested very heavily in Sammy Watkins in the 2014 Draft, and I think they spent too much.
They also already suffered a huge loss with ILB Kiko Alonso blowing out his ACL this summer before training camp was even close. He’s done for the season.
I see Buffalo losing 10+ games this year, including this one in the snow of December Buffalo.
Packers beat the Bills 35-10. Packers move to 12-2, atop the NFC. Saints lose this week at Chicago, while the Seahawks beat the 49ers. All three of those teams drop to 11-3, while the Bears move to 10-4.
Game 15- at Tampa Bay
Here is the Cheesehead Nation winter-getaway game. Hopefully, the Buccaneers will struggle this year and give away all their seats to Packer fans. It is possible. They are picked for 4th place by most, 3rd at best. But I think Tampa Bay is improving and new coach Lovie Smith will turn them around. I just hope not this soon.
I’d not be surprised to see Tampa Bay close to 7-7 by this week, but I hope they’re 5-9 or worse. Either way, look for the Packers to roll 34-7.
Green Bay moves to 13-2, clinching a first-round bye, and keeping their #1 seed status with one game to go.
Game 16- vs Detroit
Usually, the Lions are well in hibernation mode by now. Or meltdown mode. Colin Cowherd just made his predictions this morning and he has the Lions at 6-10 this year. I don’t think they’ll be that bad. I’d look for them to be 7-8 or 8-7 at this point as their offense is lethal. Megatron and Golden Tate at WR, with Ebron at TE, Reggie Bush at RB, and Stafford at QB. Remember, he threw for over 5,000 yards just a few seasons ago.
And that defensive line is extremely talented.
That being said, Matt Flynn beat them to finish 2011 at 15-1. Aaron Rodgers will beat them in the same place, same time, to finish 2014 also as the number one seed, this time a 14-2. Packers win 34- 23.