10

November

Green Bay Packers Schedule: Running the Gauntlet

When the NFL schedule was first released back in April, the upcoming three games for the Green Bay Packers were of important interest to head coach Mike McCarthy. Because starting on Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers will play three games in just 11 days.

On November 14th, Green Bay hosts Minnesota at Lambeau Field. The following Sunday (November 20th), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to the frozen tundra, and on November 24th, the Packers take on the Detroit Lions in their annual Thanksgiving Day massacre- I mean, showdown.

This means that following the Vikings game, the Packers will be on short weeks to prepare and rest for each subsequent matchup.

But it gets better.

All three teams are conference opponents, meaning the outcomes will be significant in determining playoff rankings. On top of that, two of the three games are division opponents, which obviously has a direct affect on the Packers’ standing in the NFC North title race.

After facing off with the Minnesota Vikings a mere three weeks ago, Green Bay will be taking their second and final shot at the rebuilding team for the season. Last time they helped rookie quarterback Christian Ponder make a laudable debut for the purple and gold, eking out just a 33-27 win at the “Humpty Dump.”

This time, the Packers won’t have to deal with the crowd noise, so a win should be well within reach.

Next come the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They are the final NFC South opponent to take on the Green Bay Packers this season, and they are all that stand in the way of Aaron Rodgers and company sweeping that division. (The Packers already beat the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons.)

It will also mark the last NFC North team that the Bucs will face, having already lost to the Lions and Bears, but defeating the Vikings.  That said, I’m sure the Packers won’t forget how Josh Freeman and his creamsicle uniform shocked them for a 38-28 loss back in November of 2009.

Finally, Green Bay will travel to Ford Field to finish their three-game gauntlet against the Detroit Lions.

The Lions were the only undefeated team to run alongside the Packers this year until the San Francisco 49ers derailed them in Week 6. Sitting just two games behind the division lead, this matchup could very easily play a determining factor in who takes the NFC North in 2011.

Two factors make this game even bigger, though.

First is the fact that the Packers will be on their shortest week of the season. They will have just three days of rest and preparation, plus they will have to take travel time to get to Detroit.

Second is the recurring notion that the Lions could be the team with the best shot to beat the Packers during the regular season. Their defense ranks sixth in passing yards allowed (193.6), and they have shown an outstanding ability to generate pressure with just a 4-man rush. Cliff Avril, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and the infamous Ndamokung Suh are all legitimate threats to the safety of Aaron Rodgers and the timing of his offense.

Fortunately, Green Bay’s Thursday game also means they will get a full nine days to recover before the next matchup.  They will need all the time they can get, since they will then be travelling to the New Meadowlands Stadium to take on the New York Giants.

This gauntlet of games during the next couple weeks will really test the mettle of this undefeated – yet imperfect – team of champions.

Will we see the familiar call to arms in the face of adversity? Or will the defensive struggles finally crack under the pressure of this three-game stretch? Will Aaron Rodgers continue his dominating performance, and will Mason Crosby continue to defy the odds and silence his critics?

Only time will tell. But if there’s one team that can withstand the storm to come, it’s the Green Bay Packers.

——————

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

——————

17 Responses to “Green Bay Packers Schedule: Running the Gauntlet”

  1. Ron LC says:

    Chad, your review of the upcoming games add strength to my arguement that the D starts to pick up and contribute to maintaining the point differentail and take some pressure off the O. Monday is when Capers and the D must start earning their salaries. the season sould turn on these four (include the Giants) games. The whole tean needs to show up. If they win the next three the season could be wrapped up in a nice Green and Gold bow. They could then afford to lose to the Giants with little impact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      I agree, winning these next three would all but secure them a high berth in the playoffs. Detroit would be another game behind, and they’d have 3 more NFC wins to their record.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Chad Lundberg says:

    Not sure how much I buy the idea that the Lions hold the best chance of beating the Packers anymore.

    Rivers was not himself, but the Chargers were probably the most talented team the Packers face this year. The Lions are merely half the kind of talent that the Bolts do.

    Second, Rodgers is playing in a Dome. Need I say more about that?

    And why do you say that the Packers only have three days to prepare? I understand your concern there, but the Lions only have three days as well.

    Also, people tend to forget that Rodgers’ is wearing a high tech helmet. Yes, that front four is scary, possibly the scariest in the NFLm although Suh is suffering a sophomore slump. But another concussion (I know you didn’t say concussion, don’t worry), IN MY OPINION, is not likely for Rodgers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Considering how close both Lions games were last year, I’m not convinced that they’ll be any less of a threat.

      Besides, I’m more worried about their defense than their offense… especially with Nick Fairley returning to the rotation. Unless the Packers defense can buckle down in time, I expect the Lions to put up some points.

      As for the Lions having three days to prepare as well, that is true, but two things help to offset this: (1) they don’t have to travel, since their Sunday game before that is at home, and (2) they have homefield advantage, and you know that place will be rocking. With a loud stadium and a threatening defensive line, I’m sure the Packers will have their fair share of offside penalties.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • PackersRS says:

      Sorry to say that, but the Lions actually have more talent. Much more talent on the DL, more talent on the LB with the aquisition of Tullock and Durant. Calvin Johnson is a bigger treat than Gates and Jackson combined, though they have Pettitgrew. And most importantly Stafford right now is a better QB than Rivers.

      Though they’re riddled with injuries…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

      • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

        Calvin Johnson is what worries most about the Lions game. Jump balls in the end zone over Charlie Peprah anyone? I sure hope they match up with Tramon on him – he’s got the jumps to contest those balls…

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. BTF says:

    Big weekend coming up. It’s possible we could be playing for a 3 game lead in the division and 2 game lead for #1 seed come Monday night.

    On the Lions the D is good the D line obviously talented but they can be run on-giving up 5.2 YPC. Wonder if we see a few 2-3 TE sets with a view to getting Starks and Grant going and protecting Rodgers..

    Still getting ahead of myself which I said I wouldn’t do after last year. One game at a time..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      While I think McCarthy will commit some more snaps to the run, he will still play to the strength of the offense, and that is on the arm of Aaron Rodgers. If they can establish early success running the ball, it will be easier for them to move it through the air.

      Going off your last sentence, I hope the Packers take it the same way. With a short week to prepare for the Lions, there’s a chance Tampa Bay could trap them in a loss if they’re not focused on that game. Though I tend to give the Packers the benefit of the doubt where focus is concerned.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    Great breakdown Chad!

    IMO – Either AR continues to play perfect and we get timely turnover’s every game. OR the D picks it up. That’s the only ways we win all of the next 4.

    The game that both of these things happen is the game we lose. Maybe more than one..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  5. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    EDIT:

    The game that none of the above things DON’T happen is the game we lose. Maybe more than one..

    Need an edit button! :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. Wagszilla says:

    Lions and Giants.
    Those are the only 2 games that make me worry at all.

    Bucs are overrated and don’t travel well.

    Of course they could phone it in towards the end of the season and rest some starters. Don’t know if that’s Mike McCarthy’s MO though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  7. Ron LC says:

    The Bears on Sunday. A Bear win would be a nice thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. jOe says:

    Umm hate to nit pick but the article says that we play the Lions on the 23rd, and I’m pretty sure its the 24th.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. Shavager says:

    Packers D-line should get to Stafford-he’s excellent QB but is not mobile, can’t scramble to safety. Stop big plays to Calvin Johnson, get Starks/Grant run game in gear and Packers win. Vikings game may be close before 4th qtr, but Ponder needs more help to win unless Peterson gets another 175 yd game. Tampa Bay’s defense can keep them in the game, limiting their offense will be a must for Packers, this could be the trap game for a loss, especially with Packers’ D-line tired out after three games in such short time. Hopefully GB can get some action out of Mike Neal by Lions game even if just a series or two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  10. [...] The success of the entire season could hinge on the next three games. Find out why at JerseyAl.com. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Dan says:

    Vikings and Bucs should be wins, lions will be tuff , 9 day test for the giants looks like a win. I guess I’m rooting for the bears to beat the lions this week so we haVe a 3 game lead in the div, we should be ok for the no1 seed , however, our D scares me .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0