Thursday, April 24, 2014

The 53 - First Look at 2014 Regular Season Schedule for the Green Bay Packers

Besides their usual home and away with their NFC North divisional foes (Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings), next season the Green Bay Packers host the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons in non-divisional games while they face the Seattle Seahawks, the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints on the road.  The date date and time of when the Packers actually play all of those games was announced last night:

Week 1: @ the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, September 4th @ 7:30 p.m.
Week 2: vs. the New York Jets on Sunday, September 14th @ 3:25 p.m.
Week 3: @ the Detroit Lions on Sunday, September 21st @ noon
Week 4: @ the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 28th @ noon
Week 5: vs. the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, October 2nd @ 7:25 p.m.
Week 6: @ the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, October 12th @ noon
Week 7: vs. the Carolina Carolina on Sunday, October 19th @ noon
Week 8: @ the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, October 26th @ 7:30 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: vs. the Chicago Chicago Bears on November 9th @ 7:30 p.m.
Week 11: vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, November 16th @ noon
Week 12: @ the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, November 23rd @ noon
Week 13: vs. the New England Patriots on Sunday, November 30th @ 3:25 p.m.
Week 14: vs. the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, December 8th @ 7:30 p.m.
Week 15: @ the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, December 14th @ noon
Week 16: @ the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, December 21st @ noon
Week 17: vs. the Detroit Lions on Sunday, December 28th on noon
The three most interesting games on the slate to me when you factor in just the time of the year of the game, where the game is being played, and the current rosters for the other team are:

#3) Week 16 @ the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, December 21st @ noon: For years Cheesehead Chick and I've talked about spending Christmas at Mama Cheese and Papa Cheese's vacation home in Punta Gorda, FL.  This year seems like the perfect year to do it, especially if we take Christmas week off so we can make the short two hour drive north to score easy tickets to see the Packers play in the sun in late December and then spend the rest of the week relaxing poolside, hopefully enjoying the fruits of another Packer victory.  There is no doubt that Week 8 @ the Saints and Week 13 hosting the Patriots look like better games right now but there is always one team that struggles the previous year but wins at least six more games the following year.  The Bucs were 4-12 last year but they cleaned house after last season and brought in Lovie Smith as their new head coach, Jason Licht as their new general manager, and Josh McCown as their new starting quarterback.  I am not sold on McCown despite how well he played in relief of Jay Cutler at quarterback for the Chicago Bears the last few years, mostly because filling in for the injured starter is much different than being the starter from day one. Factoring in all the changes for the Bucs, I could see them turn the corner quickly to become a borderline playoff team next season.  Leaving the glorious possibility of spending Christmas in warm weather in Florida aside, I could actually see this game determining whether the Packers or Bucs are playoff bound in 2014.

#2) Week 12 @ the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, November 23rd @ noon: The Vikings are finally building a new stadium to replace The Humpty after they knocked it down following the 2013 season.  Mother nature tried to get rid of The Humpty in 2011 but the Vikings kept playing there for two more years.  Without a new permanent home till (at least) 2015, the Vikings are playing at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Last year Gaber, Nick, Sug, and I sent out The Humpty in style.  The day before, Nick and I got a preview of coming attractions when we saw the Minnesota Golden Gophers beat the Nebraska Cornhusters at TCF Bank Stadium.  Let's not forget, TCF Bank Stadium is where Brett Favre's consecutive games started streak ended at 297 when he took a hard hit on the astro turf at the hands of Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats.  Despite opening in 2009, the Vikings are still investing money in the field and running beer lines throughout the stadium to make the stadium as modern as possible.  Hopefully Gaber, Nick, Sug, and I can get the band back together to see the Packers beat the Vikings outside at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014, where games should be played in the Midwest.

#1) Week 1 @ the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, September 4th @ 7:30 p.m: This is clearly the easy one to pick for a number of reasons.  Not only is this the first game of the entire 2014 NFL regular season because the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year, but this also marks the first visit to Seattle for the Packers since they got hosed in the "Fail Mary" game on MNF of Week 3 of the 2012 season.  The replacement refs botched the call at the end of the "Fail Mary" game so bad in front of a national audience that it actually ended the NFL ref's strike.  The front offices of both teams are intertwined given that current Packer's general manager Ted Thompson used to be a prominent member of the Seahawk's front office while the current Seahawk's general manager John Schnieder worked under Thompson in Green Bay.  One game does not make a season but my expectations are low for this game unless Thompson has a stellar performance in the 2014 NFL Draft so if the Packers could somehow beat the Seahawks on the road, it could go a long way towards making 2014 a special season for the Packers.

I will have a much more detailed breakdown of how I think all of the games will play out once I know how The 53 is most likely going to look following the 2014 NFL Draft.  Speaking of which, make sure to check back over the next few week as I start to roll out my in-depth look at draft for Thompson.

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