The Green Bay Packers travel to Jacksonville, Fla., today to begin the 2016 NFL regular season against the Jaguars, a team the pundits feel will have a different look this year.
With that in mind, we here have stepped back and given our best shot at predicting the outcome of this game that will be played in the 90-plus-degree heat.
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for since the Arizona Cardinals so unceremoniously dispatched the Packers in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs last January; it’s the day when Jordy Nelson makes his comeback; it’s the day when Eddie Lacy shows us his offseason training has paid off; and it’s the day when Aaron Rodgers kicks off wat he feels is the most important season of his storied career.
Can we say we’re excited to see the ball finally kicked off? Yes, that’s an understatement.
So, with that said, scroll down to read our predictions on the outcome to today’s game.
Joe Olkives: Week 1 is always a tough one. The Packers goal is to come in and mistake free football. As long as the Packers are able to take care of the ball and aren’t getting those momentum killing penalties they should be alright. They need to take points when they are there. If they can convert a few kicks from Mason Crosby and punch a couple in the end zone it should allow the defense enough breathing room to get the job done. The defense will play to stop the run and must capitalize on their opportunities to create turnovers. If they can shake up Blake Bortles and stop the run, The Packers will come out on top.
I think the Packers get it done
Packers 26, Jaguars 20
Rodgers: 2 TDs, 196 yards
Bortles: 2 TDs, 156 yards, 2 INT
Ralph Mancini: The Packers have the upper hand in this spot from a personnel and overall experience standpoint. The Jaguars may be an up-and- coming team with the offensive weapons to put up quick points, but they don’t match up with Green Bay in the trenches — where most games are won and lost. Look for Aaron Rodgers to slice and dice the opposition in the middle of the field with both Randall Cobb and Jared Cook. The Jags may be a team of the future, but the Packers are the “now” squad and I look for them to roll with the weather not being much of a factor.
Packers 30, Jaguars 20
Joe D’Aloisio: The Green Bay Packers will be tested in their week one match-up on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are considered one of the up-and-coming teams in the NFL, surrounded with young talent on both sides of the ball. This will be a great test for the Packers’ secondary having to go against Blake Bortles and company. However, pressure will be key early and often for the Packers defense to help create turnovers. I think the game will be close in the first half as the Packers attempt to establish the run game with Eddie Lacy, but completely open it up after the half and win.
Packers 35, Jaguars 20
Erin Underwood: At first glance, it seems that Green Bay will have a relatively easy time in Jacksonville, but all factors considered it could be a more exciting matchup than we might assume. Blake Bortles has a huge offensive weapons in Allen Robinson, an explosive receiver who’s quickly become one of the top players in his position, and solid second-year man Allen Hurns. On the defensive side, Jacksonville did make improvements in the offseason including adding the highly-anticipated first-round draft pick CB Jalen Ramsey to the roster. But development takes time and Green Bay will be Ramsey’s first real test. That being said, with Rodgers at his career peak, Jordy healthy, Randall Cobb still a solid threat and Lacy trimmed down, the Packers strength on offense easily outmatches Jacksonville’s defense. Stopping Rodgers will be a difficult task and that’s the biggest reason Green Bay will win. This will be an offensive game for sure, with it being relatively close in the first half. But once Green Bay gets into rhythm, the second half will be run by Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay 31, Jacksonville 24
Kenn Korb: I’m expecting this week we’ll see the Packers take it slow (relatively) on offense, grinding things out behind what should be an improved running game — a slimmed-down Eddie Lacy averaged 5.7 yards per carry in limited preseason action, and James Starks should still be a powerful slashing #2 option. Doing so will allowing themselves to rediscover their natural passing game flow from years past — especially on play-action passes (the team ranked last on these plays in 2015 after ranking #2 in 2014).
Jacksonville has the talent to try making things close late, but I think some key mistakes from young QB Blake Bortles (he led the league with 18 INTs in 2015) eventually seals the deal for the Packers.
Green Bay 30, Jacksonville 20
White Lighting is finally going to touch the football field on Sunday in Jacksonville. Jordy Nelson’s presence alone will catapult the performances of both Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy. A deep threat is finally back in the tool bag of Aaron Rodgers.
With that said, it won’t be an easy game. McCarthy has not been on the best side of week one. The hot and humid sub ninety weather usually isn’t very kind to the Packers. Green Bay is the prominent team and will still find a way to beat the up and coming Jags. Look for Rodgers to top the 300 yard mark with at least 3 touchdown passes to boot.
Packers 31, Jaguars 24
Brad Miller: This is an interesting matchup for the Packers.
Uncommon foe. On the road to start the season. Facing an up and coming team. Getting acclimated to unusual climate. There are a lot of unknown variables.
Throw in the fact that we are all anxious to see what Jordy Nelson will be able to bring to the table coming off a season missed by injury. I’d say that we will see the Jordy of old but maybe with a little bit of rust.
The Jaguars are expected to be better this year but just how much did they improve? They will be eager to prove that the hype is real but let’s face it, they are not there yet. This game will be close for 3 quarters but then the Packers will take over the game in the 4 th .
Packers 33, Jaguars 24
Thomas Friesen: Last time the Packers made the trip to Jacksonville in 2008, the Jaguars knocked them out of the playoffs with a 20-16 victory over the Green and Gold.
This time, the Packers start their playoff run with a convincing win.
Jordy Nelson makes a big play on the opening series, Green Bay head into half time with a double digit lead, and it never gets closer than that. Eddie Lacy opens the season with 100+ yards on the ground.
Packers 31, Jaguars 17
Dan Dahlke: This one will be closer than many suspect, but in the end the Packers will find a way to get it done on the road in the hot, muggy Florida temperature. Blake Bortles will test Green Bay’s young secondary early on, trying to push the ball downfield and hit big plays to Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. However, the Packers defensive backs will answer the call. The Packers’ pass rushers should also find success against Jacksonville’s shaky offensive line and keep the young QB uncomfortable in the pocket. I expect Green Bay’s offense to get off to a slow start after the starters only played a few snaps together in the entire preseason, but they’ll adjust and quickly figure out where to attack the inexperienced Jaguars defense. Lacy could have a big day, but with Jordy back and demanding much of the attention from the opposing defense, I also expect Randall Cobb and Jared Cook to make plenty of plays as they work the middle of the field.
Packers 27, Jaguars 20
Ray Rivard: The majority of the experts expect this game to be closer than one may think. The Packers’ offense may come out sluggish against a young and invigorated Jaguars defense. However, this is another Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team with the likes of Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb ready to break into another season. By the second half the Packers should have this game well in hand. I see Green Bay eventually winning their opening round by at least 10 points, gaining the confidence boost they will need when they travel to Minnesota for the opening of the Vikings’ new stadium next Sunday night.
Packers 33, Jaguars 17