Opening week is generally a time of delusional hope for the vast majority of teams that come into the season with ambitious plans to qualify for the postseason and to perhaps go even farther than that.
After making eight consecutive playoff appearances, the Packers find themselves in the unique situation of having only one specific goal in mind as they embark on their 2017 campaign—and that’s winning a fifth Lombardi Trophy.
Neither a wild-card berth nor a division crown are enough to quench the thirst of rabid team supporters that have seen their squad go seven years without hoisting the coveted title.
The Packers were on the door step of greatness last January, but couldn’t sustain their momentum against a dynamic Falcons’ offense that gave the Patriots everything they could handle in the Super Bowl.
And while the tendency is to often remember the moment we last saw our team in a meaningful game, the reality is Green Bay far exceeded expectations many had for the organization following a dismal 4-6 start.
Going into last season’s NFC Championship, the Packers were riding an eight-game winning streak fueled by the heroics of Aaron Rodgers, who found his rhythm and became an unstoppable force down the stretch.
Barring multiple injuries along a formidable, but thin, offensive line, there’s little reason to believe that our green and gold contingent won’t be able to keep its foot on the gas pedal and steamroll whatever comes its way.
This year’s schedule is littered with obstacles, but not enough to create anything more than a few minor setbacks and one or two last-minute, gut-wrenching losses.
Road games versus the Falcons, Cowboys, Steelers and Vikings look to be the most challenging on the regular-season slate.
But I wouldn’t sleep on the revamped Panthers either given their multiplicity of backfield and receiving weapons along with an underrated front seven led by Luke Kuechly.
Still, the Packers offense will also be a tough nut to crack with their own array of playmakers surrounding No. 12.
While the defense may require some time to round into form, let’s all embrace the fact that the Packers should be a devastating force on the other side of the ball that very few opponents will be able to contend with.
I’m calling for a 12-4 record that should involve quite a few shootouts in the first half of the year, as Dom Capers figures out how to best utilize his many talented, but inexperienced components on defense.
Green Bay 12-4