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.