Green Bay Packers 2020 schedule breakdown
The Green Bay Packers are coming off a 13-3 season and a trip to the NFC championship game. Now we know their path for a repeat trip to the playoffs (if all things go well and the season starts on time, of course). What should fans look forward as the Pack look to make it back to the postseason? The Packers play back-to-back road games only once but do have to face two teams coming off a bye. More tidbits such as this below as FOX Sports Wisconsin breaks down the 2020 matchups and explains what you need to know about each.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, 12 p.m. at Minnesota Vikings
This is the first time Green Bay has ever opened in Minnesota. A lot of “ifs” here, but if the season starts on time and if fan attendance is limited or not allowed, that would be an advantage for the Packers as Minnesota plays in what can be a very loud indoor venue. Offensively, the 2020 Vikings will look very similar to the 2019 edition, although rookie Justin Jefferson is replacing Stefon Diggs. Gary Kubiak also takes over as offensive coordinator, but he had a hand in things last season. Minnesota finished fifth in the NFC in points last season – but scored only 26 in two games against Green Bay, both Packers victories.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, 12 p.m. vs. Detroit Lions
For the third straight season, Green Bay opens with back-to-back divisional opponents. Like Minnesota, Detroit’s offense remains largely intact from 2019 but with a healthy Matthew Stafford, who played in just eight games last season. The Lions will test Green Bay’s pass defense. Last year, three players had 60+ receptions and two others had 30+. It figures to be more of the same in 2020.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, 7:20 p.m. at New Orleans Saints
After two games against NFC North foes, the Packers get to travel to New Orleans to face one of the toughest teams in the conference. Drew Brees missed five games in 2019, but at age 40 still completed 74.3% of his passes with 27 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Wide receiver Michael Thomas, who caught 149 passes for 1,725 yards, will once again be the main recipient of Brees’ throws with dual threat Alvin Kamara (791 yards rushing, 533 yards receiving) always a factor. The Saints had the second-best point differential in the NFC and went out and bolstered their defense by bringing back (after a stint in Philadelphia) safety Malcolm Jenkins. As long as Brees is behind center, the Saints will be a tough matchup.
Week 4, Monday, Oct. 5, 7:15 p.m. vs. Atlanta Falcons
It’ll be back-to-back primetime games for the Packers. Atlanta has a few familiar faces in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley but coming off a disappointing 7-9 season in which they allowed more points than they scored, the Falcons made a lot of changes. While Jones will remain Ryan’s favorite target, Austin Hooper, who had the second-most catches on the team, is gone, as is running back Devonta Freeman.
Enter dynamic Todd Gurley, who gives Atlanta a different dimension at running back with his pass-catching ability – as long as his knees can hold up. The Falcons added defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. in free agency and drafted cornerback A.J. Terrell and defensive tackle Marlon Davidson to help boost a sagging defense. The question for Atlanta is can it turn things around after a couple of losing seasons or is this just a downward trend which will take time to turn around?
Week 5: Bye
If the season doesn’t start on time, will this remain Green Bay’s bye? Either way, it’s early in the season. In fact, it’s the earliest bye week, with only the Packers and Detroit off. It might be nice to have after a Monday night game and some potential tough games but could make for tougher sledding late in the year as teams normally prefer a break around midseason or beyond.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, 3:25 p.m. at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Get ready for the hype train with a two-week buildup for Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady. After years of ups and downs with Jameis Winston at quarterback, Tampa Bay is hopeful Brady can be the savior which leads them to the playoffs and a deep postseason run. He’s certainly got the weapons in Mike Evans (67 catches, 1,157 yards in 13 games), Chris Godwin (86-1,333 in 14 games) and a certain tight end named Rob Gronkowski, who has come out of retirement for another go-round with Brady.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, 12 p.m. at Houston Texans
Houston made some, shall we say, interesting moves this offseason. But they still have Deshaun Watson, who threw for 26 touchdowns and ran for seven others last season. Gone from the 2019 team are both the Texans’ leading receiver (DeAndre Hopkins, traded to Arizona) and leading rusher (Carlos Hyde, a free agent). Head coach (and general manager) Bill O’Brien is hoping running back David Johnson can have a rebirth in Houston while also relying on several receiving options, such as Brandin Cooks (acquired from the Rams), Will Fuller (who has had trouble staying healthy), Kenny Stills (who might still be dealt) and Randall Cobb (free-agent signing). The defense is still decent as has J.J. Watt, but did you know that the Texans had a minus-7 point differential in 2019? And still went 10-6? We really don’t know what’s going on in Houston. Good news for the Packers, though: This will be their last time playing back-to-back road games.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, 12 p.m. vs. Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay hosts its divisional rival, which will be coming off its bye week. The Vikings allowed the second-fewest points in the NFC last year and yet will have a remade secondary when they visit Lambeau Field. Minnesota’s top three cornerbacks from last season are gone. Mike Hughes, a 2018 first-round pick, and Jeff Gladney, a 2020 first-rounder, are expected to fill the starting spots. Two young corners? Rodgers vs. young corners? We can sense him licking his chops already. Minnesota does have a fearsome front seven and Harrison Smith is a good safety. Anthony Harris had a strong year in 2019 and was hit with the franchise tag, which he has yet to sign, so TBD if he’s actually on the Vikings once the season begins. Minnesota did a good job vs. Rodgers last season (209 yards, 216 yards), but like we mentioned before, those were both Green Bay victories, so …
Week 9, Thursday, Nov. 5, 7:20 p.m. at San Francisco 49ers
Gee, the Packers get to fly across the country on a short week to face a team that beat it twice in the 2019 season, including a romp in the NFC championship game. This won’t be an easy task, to say the least. San Francisco didn’t pass the ball much against the Packers, but did add speedy Brandon Aiyuk to the roster to go with wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle and company. DeForest Buckner was traded, but Javon Kinlaw drafted. The 49ers also added left tackle Trent Williams to help protect Jimmy Garoppolo and also continue to grind out that run game behind Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, which is probably what they’ll continue to do against the Packers until Green Bay can prove it can stop the run.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, 12 p.m. vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Will the last Jaguars player left please turn off the light? There’s been just a little bit of turnover in Jacksonville over the years. Fowler, traded. Jalen Ramsey, traded. Nick Foles, signed, starts, benched, released. Yannick Ngakoue, franchised but won’t sign and wants out. Leonard Fournette, TBD. The offense is in the hands of 2019 sixth-round pick Garnder Minshew. The man with the moustache is a great story but mostly struggled down the stretch (under 200 yards passing in three of his final five games and another with 201). The defense is largely rebuilt with the additions of a pair of first-round draft picks in linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson and cornerback C.J. Henderson and free-agent signings linebacker Joe Schobert and cornerback D.J. Hayden. Still, this franchise is a mess. Who knows what to expect, but at Lambeau, we like Green Bay’s chances in this one, especially with a mini-bye.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, 12 p.m. at Indianapolis Colts
Tampa Bay isn’t the only team which turned to an older quarterback in free agency. Indianapolis signed Philip Rivers, who turn 39 in 2020, in hopes of getting the Colts back on track. Rivers didn’t have his finest season in 2019 with the Chargers, though. He did throw for 4,615 yards but had just 23 touchdowns with 20 interceptions. Perhaps having a healthy T.Y. Hilton will help. The Colts might take a page out of the 49ers’ playbook and run often vs. Green Bay with Marlon Mack and second-round pick Jonathan Taylor. Indianapolis added Buckner to its defense to fortify a front four which brought in Justin Houston in 2019. Even with Houston and young star-in-the-making linebacker Darius Leonard, the Colts defense was no better than average last year. Indy hopes cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who the Packers know well, reverts back to form.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, 7:20 p.m. vs. Chicago Bears
Green Bay will face Chicago twice in the final six weeks, the first on Sunday night at Lambeau, the 15th straight season the Packers and Bears have met in a primetime game. This deep in the season, who will be Chicago’s quarterback? Mitch Trubisky didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up but is ostensibly still the starter. But the Bears also brought in Foles. Either way, tight ends appear to be a key to the Bears’ offense as they snagged Jimmy Graham after Green Bay cut him and drafted Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet with their top draft choice (in the second round). Oh, they also signed Ted Ginn. Chicago scored only 288 points last season. Seems like a similar pace is on schedule for 2020.
Week 13, Sunday, Dec. 6, 3:25 p.m. vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Green Bay and Philadelphia played an exciting game at Lambeau Field in 2019 and get to do it again in 2020. The Eagles made the playoffs for a third straight year but made some major changes. Miles Sanders (818 yards rushing, 509 yards receiving) emerged as the No. 1 running back and will be the go-to guy this season. While tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Godert will remain a big part of the offense, the wide receiver group has been reconfigured. The Eagles hope DeSean Jackson can stay healthy but Alshon Jeffrey (hurt, potentially cut or traded) and Nelson Agholor are gone. Philly took three receivers in the draft – all of whom are fast, which was the draft m.o. of the team this year. The defense is strong and the Eagles upgraded at corner by trading for Darius Slay although safety Jenkins is gone. Philadelphia should be a playoff contender again and this is looking like another good game in Green Bay
Week 14, Sunday, Dec. 13, 12 p.m. at Detroit Lions
Detroit hired Bill Belichick protegee Matt Patricia, Belichick’s defensive coordinator in New England as head coach in 2018. The Lions went 6-10 in his first year as head coach and 3-12-1 in 2019. Last season, Detroit allowed 423 points, giving up 4,551 yards passing – most in the NFL. Not goooood. Detroit added former Patriots DT Danny Shelton, LB Jamie Collins and S Duron Harmon this offseason (joining DE Trey Flowers, added in 2019) as well traded for CB Desmond Trufant and drafted CB Jeff Okudah with the No. 3 overall pick. How will the new pieces fit in, especially if there’s a shortened offseason, remains to be see, but by Week 14 we should have a good idea.
Week 15, Saturday, Dec. 19 or Sunday, Dec. 20, TBD vs. Carolina Panthers
The NFL has a few Saturday-Sunday flex games on its schedule and this matchup at home against Carolina is one of them. If Christian McCaffrey already didn’t have a target on his back surely he will in 2020. The Panthers are undergoing a massive rehaul under new head coach Matt Rhule. Longtime quarterback Cam Newton was let go and linebacker Luke Kuechly retired. Teddy Bridgewater is the new QB, so expect a lot of short passes to McCaffrey. The WR group of Robby Anderson, signed as a free agent, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel is fine but not exactly among the top groups in the NFL. The Panthers allowed 470 points in 2019, most in the NFC, so the team concentrated building up the defense – all of their 2020 draft picks were on that side of the ball. Feels like it’s going to be a long year in Carolina.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, 7:25 p.m. vs. Tennessee Titans
Currently a primetime game but one which we could see being flexed out. Tennessee made the playoffs as a wild card in 2019 riding a hot second half by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the running of Derrick Henry and an above-average defense. The Titans will look to repeat that formula in 2020. Was Tannehill (7.03%, 22 TD, 6 INT in 12 games, 10 starts) a fluke or revelation? Can Henry, who had 303 carries (for 1,540 yards and 16 TD) be a bellcow again? These are important questions which, again, by Week 16 will be a lot clearer. However, we will say this: Tennessee has always played hard under head coach Mike Vrabel and we’d expect nothing less at Lambeau Field no matter how their season is going.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, 12 p.m. at Chicago Bears
The loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fango, who left to be Denver’s head coach, certainly didn’t help the Bears, but either did injuries to key players defensive tackle Akeem Hicks (limited to five games), linebacker Danny Trevathan (nine games) and linebacker Roquan Smith (12 games). Injuries are of course part of the game and by Week 17 no player is 100% healthy, but the Bears do have the makings of a good defense once again. Even with all their issues in 2019, the Bears held the Packers to 31 points in two games. Expect a usual low-scoring dogfight … depending on the circumstances. Will this game matter to either team in the playoff picture?