Green Bay Packers

The Packers Schedule Offers No Rest For the Wicked

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL was a tease this year, but the league finally unveiled the 2022 regular-season schedule last Thursday. This year includes a slate of intriguing matchups for the Green Bay Packers, notably the team’s first trip to London, a slew of primetime games, and Mike McCarthy’s return to Lambeau Field.

What the schedule doesn’t provide is much in terms of rest. Strength of schedule has the Packers in the middle of the pack (so to speak), but strength of schedule is a garbage stat that doesn’t actually mean anything. In all practicality, Green Bay has quite a challenging schedule in terms of their playing times and availability of rest. Let’s examine why.

In 2021, Green Bay had a favorable schedule in terms of strength of schedule (again, a very meaningless stat) but had challenges like a brutal stretch of opponents and a late bye week. Those problems are compounded even more this season.

Let’s start with the London game. The Packers have been loathe to give up a home game for a trip overseas due to the economic impact a home game has for Green Bay. Furthermore, opponents typically don’t want to lose a game against the Packers because of how well Packers fans travel. With an extra home game this season, Green Bay is finally headed to London to face the New York Giants in Week 5.

Teams playing in London will typically get a bye week after, thanks to the toll travel and jet lag can have on players. Unfortunately, the Packers won’t get that extra bit of rest. They play the other New Jersey team seven days later. Therefore, the Packers won’t be fully rested and recovered by the time the Jets come to town. On the one hand, facing the Jets is kind of a bye week in and of itself, but this could easily become a trap game for the Packers, who are generally good for one head-scratching loss a year.

Green Bay won’t actually get a bye until Week 14 in December, the last possible opportunity — and the latest bye week in franchise history. If injuries pile up like last season, it will be a long wait until the team gets some much-needed rest.

The good news is that this gives the Packers a breather before the playoffs, which seems to be by design. PackersWire notes wrote that Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst admitted the team requested a late-season bye week. Still, a 13-game streak before a rest is taxing, even if it was requested.

Regarding other teams’ bye weeks, the Packers are actually one of the most disadvantaged teams in terms of facing opponents after bye weeks or on longer rests (coming off Thursday Night Football, for example). Conversely, they have few advantages in return.

Both the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys play the Packers after their bye weeks, and both of those opponents should provide good battles. The Washington Commanders face Green Bay after playing on Thursday night, giving them extra rest before facing the Packers. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings (Week 17) both have an extra day of rest before playing Green Bay.

Conversely, Green Bay gets a bye week before facing the defending champion Los Angeles Rams in what should be a battle between two of the best teams in the NFC. And the Packers will get a few days of extra rest after TNF before facing the Eagles in Week 12.

Via ESPN’s Seth Walder, the Packers have the league’s worst rest differential, at minus 13 days. Not ideal.

The home/road breakdown is also rough for Green Bay. After hosting the Patriots in Week 4, the team will play just one home game until Nov. 13. Thanks to TNF and MNF, they only play two Sunday games at Lambeau Field from Weeks 4-17.

While playing five primetime games is probably good for business, many fans (and players!) prefer to play at noon. The Packers won’t play a noon game at home until Week 6 (vs. the Jets). Unless the Detroit Lions are somehow good and the Week 18 game gets flexed to a different time slot, there won’t be another early Sunday game at Lambeau until the final week of the regular season.

Green Bay probably has the toughest schedule in the league in terms of lack of rest and long stretches away from home. But they say there is no rest for the wicked, and no one is feeling sorry for the Packers, who have finished 13-3 in their last three seasons. A little extra adversity could be good for them as they look to maximize the last few years of the Aaron Rodgers era and get over the hump and back to the Super Bowl after three seasons of heartbreaking playoff finishes.

The Packers have a tough road ahead, but they have the talent and grit to persevere and make another postseason push.

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