Green Bay Packers fans can officially begin plotting the team's path to the playoffs. What should fans look forward as the Pack look to make the postseason for ninth straight year? FOX Sports Wisconsin breaks down the matchups and explains what you need to know about each one.
Week 1, Sunday, Sept. 10, 3:25 p.m.
Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks. Skinny: These teams already have a lot of history between them and now Eddie Lacy will make his return to Lambeau Field right off the bat. Of course, quarterback Russell Wilson (4,219 passing yards, 21 touchdowns; 259 rushing yards), wide receiver Doug Baldwin (94 catches, 1,128 yardsm 7 TD) and tight end Jimmy Graham (65-923-6) return to lead an efficient offense. The defense has seen some notable names leave over the past few years; will Richard Sherman be the latest to depart?
Benny SieuBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Week 2, Sunday, Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Packers at Atlanta Falcons. Skinny: First regular-season game in Atlanta's new stadium? Check. Prime-time game? Check. Rematch of the NFC Championship Game? Of course. The NFC champions return perhaps the most dangerous offense in the NFL (the Falcons had a league-high 540 points in 2016) behind quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and a pair of devastating running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. This should be an early season must-see game.
Week 3, Sunday, Sept. 24, 3:25 p.m.
Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals. Skinny: After four straight 10+ wins seasons and five straight playoff appearances, Cincinnati went 6-9-1 in 2016 and didn't do too much this offseason to help bolster its team, but did lose former stalwarts such as guard Kevin Zeitler (free agency) and linebacker Rey Maualuga (cut). Andy Dalton (4,206 yards, 18 TD) is as up-and-down a quarterback in the NFL, but he does get to throw to stellar wide receiver A.J. Green, who, when healthy, is among the best in the league. The defense remains a strength.
Aaron DosterAaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Week 4, Thursday, Sept. 28, 7:25 p.m.
Packers vs. Chicago Bears. Skinny: If you're thinking, "Boy, it sure seems like the Packers and Bears play on Thursday night every year" you'd be pretty close to being correct. This is the third consecutive season the Bears and Packers will play on Thursday at Lambeau Field, and the fourth time in six years they've had a mid-week game. One difference this year will be no Jay Cutler, the quarterback no longer on Chicago's roster (much to Green Bay's dismay as he was 2-11 vs. the Packers with 22 interceptions in those games). The Bears have handed the QB keys over to Mike Glennon, a former Buc who has 18 starts in three years. What could go wrong?
Week 5, Sunday, Oct. 8, 3:25 p.m.
Packers at Dallas Cowboys. Skinny: If you are also thinking, "Boy, it sure seems like Green Bay plays Dallas every year," well, this will be the fifth consecutive season the two teams have met (including playoffs). Behind rookies quarterback Dak Prescott (3,667 passing yards, 23 TD, 4 INT) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (1,631 rushing yards, 15 TD), the Cowboys were a surprising 13-3 in 2016. Was it a fluke?
Week 6, Sunday, Oct. 15, noon
Packers at Minnesota Vikings. Skinny: While Adrian Peterson barely played in two of the last three seasons for Minnesota, it will still be a little strange with the longtime Vikings running back not being in purple. Former Oakland Raider Latavius Murray looks to give Minnesota a consistent running game. The Vikings' defense is among the best in the NFL, so it might be in Minnesota's best interests to churn out the yards and keep Green Bay's possessions to a minimum.
Week 7, Sunday, Oct. 22, 12 p.m.
Packers vs. New Orleans Saints. Skinny: If it feels like the Saints have been 7-9 for ages, it’s because, well, they have been. Drew Brees’ team has exactly seven wins in four of the last five seasons, the only outlier being the 11-5 squad in 2013. As usual, New Orleans' offense will revolve around the 38-year-old Brees, who threw for 5,208 yards and 37 TDs in 2016. One old nemesis could be on New Orleans' roster as the Saints have reportedly been flirting with former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Dale ZanineDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Week 9, Monday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Packers vs. Detroit Lions. Skinny: Detroit broke its long losing streak at Lambeau Field in 2015, but a new streak (perhaps) was started last year. Expect Detroit's fate to once again rely on the right arm of Matthew Stafford, who even without Calvin Johnson and no real No. 1 receiver threw for 4,327 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2016. Wide receivers Golden Tate (91 catches, 1,077 yards) and Marvin Jones (55-930) as well as tight end Eric Ebron (61-711) are Stafford's top targets. The Lions' running game is a far cry from the Barry Sanders days, with Theo Riddick leading the team in rushing yards last season with 357. (No, that was not a typo.) But Detroit made some big moves in free agency to improve its offensive line, signing tackle Rick Wagner and guard T.J. Lang, to help protect Stafford and allow them to run the ball more effectively. The defense remains a mixed bag.
Mike CarterMike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Week 10, Sunday, Nov. 12, 12 p.m.
Packers at Chicago Bears. Skinny: The Bears are in full rebuild mode. Not only is Cutler gone (as mentioned above) but also wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey left via free agency for Philadelphia. Chicago seems to be trying to build a team in the usual John Fox mold -- behind a solid defense and running game. Rookie Jordan Howard rushed for 1,313 yards last year and figures to get a lot of carries in 2017, too. At this late stage, might we see a rookie quarterback at the helm?
Week 11, Sunday, Nov. 19, 12 p.m.
Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens. Skinny: Baltimore finished second in the AFC North last year with an 8-8 record. The Ravens started out 3-0, but lost four straight games and never recovered. While Joe Flacco passed for over 4,000 yards, Baltimore isn't exactly loaded with a lot of talent at the skill positions. The defense doesn't conjure images of the Ray Lewis-Ed Reed years, but it is one of the better units in the league. Another hard-nosed team from the AFC, Baltimore's defense will be a test for the Packers at home.
Week 12, Sunday, Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers. Skinny: Another prime-time game for Green Bay (that's No. 4 in the first 12 games and five overall scheduled in 2017) in what could prove to be the toughest opponent the Packers face all season, especially with this one being on the road and (likely) in the cold. The Steelers have won 32 regular-season games the past three years and possess perhaps the best wide receiver (Antonio Brown) and running back (LeVeon Bell) in the league. If you subscribe to quarterback wins as a viable stat, Ben Roethlisberger is 123-60 over his career, although he has missed six games over the past two years. Mark this date on your calendar.
Denny MedleyDenny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Week 13, Sunday, Dec. 3, 12 p.m.
Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Skinny: Former NFC Central mates meet once again. The Bucs are one of the more intriguing teams heading into 2017. Quarterback Jameis Winston seems to have matured (on the football field, at least), throwing 28 touchdowns to only 18 interceptions and posting a career-best 86.1 quarterback rating in 2016, his second season out of Florida State. Tampa Bay already has Mike Evans (96 catches, 1,321 yards), one of the best receivers in the NFL, and added speedy Desean Jackson in the offseason, giving Winston another deep threat target. This is a game which will truly test Green Bay's secondary.
Eric HartlineEric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Week 14, Sunday, Dec. 10, 12 p.m.
Packers at Cleveland Browns. Skinny: The Browns are coming off a 1-15 season and in full rebuild mode. Who will be Cleveland's quarterback? Who knows. It might not be the same player who opens the season at QB for the Browns (think: rookie). One player to keep an eye on will be former Wisconsin Badgers left tackle Joe Thomas, who has somehow survived all these years in Cleveland without missing a game.
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Week 15, Sunday, Dec. 17, 12 p.m.
Packers at Carolina Panthers. Skinny: This could be a tough matchup and one with playoff implications as we head into the home stretch of the NFL schedule. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is always a dual threat, although his receivers have been a bit inconsistent beyond tight end Greg Olsen. Jonathan Stewart led the rushing attack in '16, but the Panthers are expected to nab a new running back in the draft … Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey, perhaps? That defense, led by Luke Kuechly, isn't too shabby either.
Jeremy BrevardJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Week 16, Saturday, Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings. Skinny: The Vikings made a concerted effort to build their offensive line this past offseason to help protect quarterback Sam Bradford, who was sacked on 6.3 percent of his attempts to pass, the second-worst percentage of his career. How much of an improvement free-agent signees Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers will be remains to be seen. This will also mark the return to Lambeau Field of Datone Jones. Will he be more productive than he was in his listless career in Green Bay?
Week 17, Sunday, Dec. 31, 12 p.m.
Packers at Detroit Lions. Skinny: How do you feel about your New Year's Eve plans? If this is a battle for the NFC North it could certainly be flexed into the Sunday night game. Of course, Detroit's last division title was in 1993 when it was called the Central Division, so perhaps there's a little bit of wishful thinking (or hoping) on the NFL's part.