How many wins will the Packers get in 2021? A look at their schedule and how experts project the outcomes
The Packers play 10 of their 17 games this year against squads that made the playoffs last year, and one of those seven other games comes against a 49ers team that surely would have been a playoff team if not for injury. Needless to say, nothing will come easily.
And still, the Packers are favored to win the NFC North. As we look at the schedule, where are the wins going to come from? Let's guess based on what the experts have laid out.
We'll use win projections provided by CBS Sports, Sporting News, Bleacher Report and ESPN, the latter of which uses a more precise projections system that gives ranges of victories with decimals (so we'll use our best guess there).
The Packers, for comparison, are picked as follows:
CBS: 12 wins, win Super Bowl over Bills
Sporting News: 12 wins, fall in NFC divisional round to 49ers
Bleacher Report: 11 wins, with two of six experts placing Packers in Super Bowl (and one to win)
ESPN: 10 wins, with a simulation that has Packers losing Super Bowl to Bills
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New Orleans Saints (away, week 1 - win)
CBS 9 wins; Sporting News 8; Bleacher Report 10; ESPN 8
A strange start to the year, playing in Jacksonville after the team was forced to relocate following Hurricane Ida. A new quarterback (Jameis Winston) and no top receiver (with Michael Thomas out) hurts, though the Saints' defense remains a force.
Detroit Lions (home, week 2; away, week 18 - both wins)
CBS 2 wins; Sporting News 2; Bleacher Report 4; ESPN 6
New coach Dan Campbell has his work cut out for him with the team's top players (save for tight end T.J. Hockenson) mostly gone. Jared Goff takes over under center. It's a longer season this year, and the Packers will see Detroit in the season finale on Jan. 9.
San Francisco 49ers (away, week 3 - loss)
CBS 12 wins; Sporting News 12; Bleacher Report 11; ESPN 10
The 49ers fell back a peg last year, but that can largely be attributed to a litany of injuries. With a kind schedule and a healed roster, they'll be dangerous again, although the NFC West won't exactly be a cakewalk. This could be a premier early-season matchup.
Pittsburgh Steelers (home, week 4 - win)
CBS 10 wins; Sporting News 10; Bleacher Report 8; ESPN 8
Two of the Watt brothers return home, and T.J. is the recipient of a beefy new contract, meaning he should be quite the issue for an offensive line that still won't have David Bakhtiari. The Steelers are embroiled in an ultra-competitive AFC North, and the Packers will see all four of those teams. With Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight of his career, the offense will be predicated on the running game, led by rookie running back Najee Harris.
Cincinnati Bengals (away, Week 5 - win)
CBS 7 wins; Sporting News 9 wins; Bleacher Report 7; ESPN 7
The Bengals' prospects are tied to the return of promising quarterback Joe Burrow from injury, and though the Bengals are the only team not seen as a contender among the four in the AFC North, this is a team that can't be discounted.
Chicago Bears (away, Week 6; home, Week 14 - split)
CBS: 7 wins; Sporting News 6; Bleacher Report 8; ESPN 7
We'll give a split in this series on the basis of intense rivalry alone, but the Bears should still be trying to find themselves by Week 6 — could that be the debut of quarterback Justin Fields? The defense is still solid, but the Packers were able to scratch out two wins against Chicago last year. There's also that weird Packers coming-off-a-bye malaise that could come into play here in Week 14.
Washington Football Team (home, week 7 - win)
CBS: 9 wins; Sporting News 9; Bleacher Report 10; ESPN 8
One of the true rising franchises in the NFL will give Green Bay plenty of problems, notably with its talented pass rush and receivers. Will David Bakhtiari, in his first week eligible to play off the Physically Unable to Perform List, be available to stop Chase Young? It's a close call here, with the edge going to the home team.
Arizona Cardinals (away, week 8 - loss)
CBS 8 wins; Sporting News 10; Bleacher Report 10; ESPN 8
The Packers will get a look at J.J. Watt in his new threads, though it's more about stopping Kyler Murray and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. It's hard to be outright bullish on any team in the NFC West because all four teams are so tough, so the win totals might not be a true representation of how talented Arizona will be. Throw in the goofiness of traveling for a Thursday night game, and this one spells trouble.
Kansas City Chiefs (away, week 9 - loss)
CBS 14 wins; Sporting News 15; Bleacher Report 15; ESPN 12
It's the one game this year where the Packers will be clear-cut underdogs. The Chiefs are one of the most popular picks to win the Super Bowl, and at the very least, make the trip for a third straight year behind perennial MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes.
Seattle Seahawks (home, Week 10 - win)
CBS 10 wins; Sporting News 10; Bleacher Report 12; ESPN 9
Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf remain a problem in the passing game, and Jamal Adams just got paid big bucks to stick around a while on defense. It's still a good team that will have a say in the playoff race. Is it a great one, though?
Minnesota Vikings (away, week 11; home, week 17 - both wins)
CBS: 7 wins; Sporting News 7; Bleacher Report 8; ESPN 8
It's hard to be too scared of a team led by Kirk Cousins, even with talented weapons at his disposal.
Los Angeles Rams (home, week 12 - win)
CBS 11 wins; Sporting News 11; Bleacher Report 9; ESPN 10
The Packers' offense found a way to neutralize Aaron Donald and the Rams' powerhouse defense in the playoffs last year, and that Rams team also enjoyed a pretty clean bill of health throughout the course of the year. Even if that good fortune continues, the Packers are the better team.
Baltimore Ravens (away, week 15 - loss)
CBS 10 wins; Sporting News 12; Bleacher Report 12; ESPN 10
Lamar Jackson wasn't precisely the dynamo in 2020 that he had been previously, and the team's injury luck before the season has been rotten. But the Ravens will be in a hotly contested battle for the AFC North at this time of year, and if the season plays out on paper, the Packers should be relatively comfortable in their own division quest by now. Right?
Cleveland Browns (home, week 16 - loss)
CBS 10 wins; Sporting News 13; Bleacher Report 12; ESPN 10
It obviously won't be easy against a returning playoff squad, one that still figures on getting better with Baker Mayfield under center. Not only that, but the Browns added a ton of ability on defense.
Final projection: 11-6
FULL PACKERS SCHEDULE (records from 2020 in parenthesis)
Sunday, Sept. 12 at New Orleans (12-4)*, 3:25 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 20 vs. Detroit (5-11), 7:15 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 26 at San Francisco (6-10), 7:20 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 3 vs. Pittsburgh (12-4)*, 3:25 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 10 at Cincinnati (4-11-1), 12 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 17 at Chicago (8-8)*, 12 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 24 vs. Washington (7-9)*, 12 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 28 at Arizona (8-8), 7:20 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 7 at Kansas City (14-2)*, 3:25 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 14 vs. Seattle (12-4)*, 3:25 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 21 at Minnesota (7-9), 12 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 28 vs. Los Angeles Rams (10-6)*, 3:25 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 12 vs. Chicago (8-8)*, 7:20 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 19 at Baltimore (11-5)*, 12 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 25 vs. Cleveland (11-5)*, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 2 vs. Minnesota (7-9), 7:20 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 9 at Detroit (5-11), 12 p.m.
*Made 2020 playoffs
JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.