The Packers will take on the AFC East and NFC East this season. But who will rise to the top as the toughest?
Football season is right around the corner and fans are super excited to see the green and gold back on the field. Looking at the team’s schedule, Green Bay will be a part of the iconic quarterback duel in Tampa, a trip to London, a battle for America’s team in November, along with many primetime games including their first ever on the new Amazon Prime edition of TNF.
Although the strength of schedule is not as hard as last year, the Packers still face some intimidating challenges this season. These games are ranked in order with #1 being the toughest game on the schedule.
#5 – Minnesota Vikings (2x) – W1 (9/11), W17 (1/1)
The Minnesota Vikings fell short of the playoffs last season and look to return for the first time since 2020. They fired head coach Mike Zimmer and replaced him with former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. After boasting a lackluster defense last season, Minnesota boosted their linebacker corps by signing Jordan Hicks and former Packer Za’Darius Smith. They also spent their first two picks on safety Lewis Cine and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr in this year’s draft.
The Vikings are always a tough matchup for the Packers, especially in US Bank Stadium, where the Packers have struggled in. The elite Green Bay secondary once again faces Justin Jefferson, one of the league’s best and rising star receivers, along with Adam Thielen who can put up big numbers occasionally. Starting the season in Minnesota does not help either.
#4 – Dallas Cowboys – W10 (11/13)
One of the most anticipated games of the season, the Packers and Cowboys rivalry goes all the way back to the Ice Bowl. In most recent years, we have seen the infamous Dez Bryant no-catch and Aaron Rodger’s fourth-quarter comeback victory in 2017. Last time around, Aaron Jones waved goodbye to the fans in Dallas and now for the first time in years, the ‘Boys are heading to Lambeau.
Dallas is loaded with weapons despite trading away receiver Amari Cooper. CeeDee Lamb is already looking deadly after his rookie season, Michael Gallup is a solid number two receiver and tight-end Dalton Schultz looks to add on to a great 2021 campaign. Facing Aaron Rodgers, who only threw nine interceptions in the past two seasons, will be facing Trevon Diggs. Although he led the NFL in interceptions last season, he also blew coverage a lot.
The Cowboys are a good threat to be one of the best teams in the NFC this season and can give the Packers a run for their money. This time around, the green and gold are hosting America’s Team for a particularly good matchup that should come down to the end.
#3 – Los Angeles Rams – W15 (12/19)
The defending Super Bowl champions head back to Lambeau once again. After last season’s statement win over the Rams at home, the Packers must face them again, knowing that they could have beaten this team during last year’s playoffs if they could get past San Francisco.
Although last year’s best team, LA is third on this list due to the fact Green Bay has played well against them, it is at Lambeau during December and there are two harder opponents. The Rams bring a familiar face to Lambeau in Matthew Stafford, now with a ring. Cooper Kupp was amazing last season while Allen Robinson will fill in for Robert Woods, who was traded to Tennessee this offseason. Replacing future HOF linebacker Von Miller is future HOF linebacker, Bobby Wagner.
The Rams only got better this year and have an incredibly good chance at repeating their Super Bowl victory. These two teams could see each other in the playoffs as LA will give Green Bay a very tough task in late December.
#2 – Buffalo Bills – W8 (10/30)
One of the scariest offenses in football, the Buffalo Bills are filled with talent. From Josh Allen and his cannon of an arm along with his mobility, Stefon Diggs, who is still an elite wide receiver, the rise of Gabe Davis who exploded in the playoffs, and a particularly good offensive line. Alongside the improvements on defense which includes Von Miller, who is a beast, and first-round pick cornerback Kaiir Elam. This team was 13 seconds away from the AFC championship game and has Super Bowl aspirations this year.
It is not just the team itself. The Packers head to Buffalo where the mafia reign. The atmosphere at Highmark Stadium is wild and loud, which will make it hard for the offense to succeed. Trust me, I have been there, and it is like no other. The Bills may be the best team in the NFL on paper and will give Green Bay an extremely challenging task.
#1 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – W3 (9/25)
There are only two teams that the Packers play their worst against. The San Francisco 49ers, who absolutely dominated Green Bay in 2019 and are known for ending many Packers seasons including last season. And then there’s Tampa Bay, one of the few teams that can say they have a pick-6 off Aaron Rodgers. In 2020, the Packers were undefeated and came to Tampa Bay and flunked. 10-0 became 38-10 and Green Bay did not fix their mistakes in the 26-21 playoff loss the same season.
Now the Packers return to Tampa Bay for the first time since that disaster and face the same feisty defense that took control of every part of the game. Early in the season, Green Bay will try to stop Devin White, Shaq Barrett, and newly added Akeim Hicks, possibly without both Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari. Alongside that, Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis will be on the young receiving core with Antoine Winfield and Logan Ryan in the secondary.
This matchup screams loss and that is why this is the toughest game on the schedule. With Tom Brady and the offense on the other side, the Packers must play well to overcome this roadblock in Tampa Bay if they want a good chance to be Super Bowl champions. It could very well be Packers vs Buccaneers in the NFC championship game once again with the timeless quarterback battle.
Just like every season, injuries and the unexpected happen which could affect how Green Bay does this season. But looking ahead, the schedule does not seem as tough as last year, and the NFC North is still weak. It will be interesting to see what all happens in another exciting NFL season.
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