Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers are heading into the 2018 NFL season with major expectations. After a lot of work this offseason and plenty of additions being made, the Packers appear to be back on track to be Super Bowl contenders. Missing the playoffs last season caused a shakeup in the organization, and it may end up paying off in a big way.
Ted Thompson stepped aside from his duties as general manager, and the Packers also fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Brian Gutekunst took over as the general manager, and Mike Pettine is the new defensive coordinator. Both men have already been called improvements for the Packers.
Looking ahead at the 2018 season, the Packers have a relatively difficult schedule ahead of them. Aaron Rodgers and company are not going to have a cakewalk into the playoffs.
The NFC North got a lot tougher, as the Minnesota Vikings improved by signing Kirk Cousins, as NFL.com noted. Both the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears are also going to be difficult teams to beat. Getting back to the top of the division is certainly not a guarantee.
All of that being said, which five games on the schedule will be the biggest key must-watch games for Packers fans?
Monday, October 15 – vs. San Francisco 49ers
In Week 6, the Packers are going to have their hands full taking on Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, and the San Francisco 49ers. Green Bay will likely be favored over the 49ers, but San Francisco is no longer a weak team. Add in that the game will be on Monday Night Football and fans will want to make a point to tune in to this game.
Sunday, November 4 – at New England Patriots
Anytime Rodgers faces off with Tom Brady, fans will want to watch. Both quarterbacks will go down as top-five quarterbacks of all time and the game usually means plenty of offense. Green Bay and New England are both projected to be title contenders this season, and this game has the chance to be one of the most entertaining of the season.
Thursday, November 15 – at Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay and Seattle have formed a bitter rivalry over the past few years, and it will continue on Thursday Night Football this season. Rodgers and company have gotten the best of Seattle recently, but the Seahawks will be out to prove that they are still one of the teams to beat in the NFC. On a short week, this will be a tough test for the Packers.
Sunday, November 25 – at Minnesota Vikings
Adding another primetime game to the list, the Packers will head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in a classic Sunday Night Football matchup. Cousins and the Vikings will be looking to repeat as division champions, and this game could end up being a key to those honors for the team that wins. Green Bay and Minnesota form one of the best rivalries in the wide world of sports, and this game will be a battle to the death.
Sunday, December 9 – vs. Atlanta Falcons
Over the past couple of seasons, the Packers have seen their playoff hopes die at the hands of the Falcons. It has become frustrating for Green Bay fans, and this will be another opportunity to get that monkey off of their backs. Atlanta is projected to be one of the top teams in the NFL again, and this game should end up being a close game with lots of drama.