In Mike Holmgren’s fifth season, his Green Bay Packers went 13-3, had the NFC’s best record and defeated New England, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI.
In Mike Sherman’s fifth season, his Packers went 10-6 and won the NFC North before losing to Minnesota in an NFC Wild Card game.
And in Mike McCarthy’s fifth season, the Packers went 10-6, got red hot in the postseason, and rode that momentum to a 31-25 win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
While Matt LaFleur’s fifth team is undergoing a quarterback change from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love, the schedule certainly provides a chance for big things.
The 2023 schedule was released Thursday and there’s more good news than bad for Green Bay.
Just six of the Packers’ 17 games will come against teams that made the postseason last year. Only two teams — defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City and the New York Giants — won playoff games. And overall, the Packers’ foes went 137-151-1 last year, a .476 winning percentage.
That’s what happens when you’re coming off an 8-9 season and a third place finish in the division.
The Packers will open with road games at Chicago and Atlanta, a pair of teams that combined to go 10-24 last year. Their bye week comes in Week 6, a far better spot than Week 14 last season.
Green Bay won’t face a 2022 playoff team (Minnesota) until Week 8, giving Love and his young offense time to develop. And the Packers have five prime time games — including three between Weeks 13-17.
Most prognosticators aren’t expecting much from Green Bay. And gambling sites everywhere have given the Packers the longest odds to win the NFC North.
But Green Bay relishes the chance to prove people wrong.
“I’m loving it. I’m used to it, being an underdog or being slept on, personally, so it’s a position I love to be in,” running back Aaron Jones said. “Nobody sees you coming at all. Everybody’s relaxed when they’re thinking about you or they don’t think you’re capable of it. When you prove people wrong, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
“I think that’s what we’re going to do this year — prove a lot of people wrong. We’re not worried about anybody’s opinions. We know what’s going to be written out there or where they’re going to have us selected to finish. All that matters is we go to battle every day, we trust these guys in the locker room and the scoreboard will tell the rest at the end of the day.”
No sport is more fluid than the NFL. So predicting wins and losses in May is a silly endeavor.
Instead, here’s a look at Green Bay’s schedule, with a breakdown of how each team fared in 2022 and the moves they’ve made this offseason.
WEEK 1: at Chicago (3-14)
Sept. 10, 3:25 (FOX)
2022 recap: The Bears were 3-4 after stunning New England on Oct. 24 last season. Then they lost their final 10 games and finished with the NFL’s worst record.
Offseason moves: Chicago traded away the No. 1 pick in the draft to Carolina in return for two first-round picks, two second-round selections and wide receiver DJ Moore. The Bears had the most salary cap room heading into free agency, then signed linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, guard Nate Davis, tight end Robert Tonyan, and a trio of defensive linemen led by DeMarcus Walker. Chicago then drew rave reviews for its 2023 draft, which was spearheaded by first round offensive tackle Darnell Wright.
WEEK 2: at Atlanta (7-10)
Sept. 17, noon (FOX)
2022 recap: The Falcons failed to qualify for the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. Atlanta finished the year ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense and 24th in total offense. Third-year coach Arthur Smith is just 14-20 to date, and may have to reach the playoffs in 2023 to keep his job.
Offseason moves: The Falcons held the second-most cap space in the NFL, then signed top free agent safety Jessie Bates, and beefed up the defense with linebacker Kaden Elliss, defensive tackle David Onyemata and defensive end Calais Campbell. Atlanta used its first round draft pick on running back Bijon Robinson, but still has one of the NFL’s poorest quarterback situations with second-year man Desmond Ridder battling veteran Taylor Heinicke.
WEEK 3: vs. New Orleans (7-10)
Sept. 24, noon, FOX
2022 recap: The Saints struggled under first-year coach Dennis Allen. New Orleans ranked fifth in total defense, but 19th in total offense and 22nd in scoring offense.
Offseason moves: New Orleans signed former Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr to a four-year, $150 million deal in free agency. He’ll replace Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston. The Saints also signed former Green Bay running back Jamaal Williams and traded the rights of former head coach Sean Payton to Denver for a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round choice. New Orleans used this year’s first round pick on Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Breese.
WEEK 4: vs. Detroit (9-8)
Sept. 28, 7:15 (PRIME)
2022 recap: Detroit opened the year 1-6 and the buzzards were circling around head coach Dan Campbell. The Lions then won eight of their final 10 games and posted their first winning season since 2017. Detroit’s win over the Packers in Week 18 knocked the Packers out of the playoffs and ended the Aaron Rodgers-era in Green Bay.
Offseason moves: The Lions haven’t won a divisional crown since 1993, but could be poised to capture their first title in three decades. Detroit added cornerbacks Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley, and safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in free agency. That should immediately help upgrade a defense that ranked last in yards (392.4) and 30th in points allowed (25.1) in 2022. The Lions then used their two first round draft picks on Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell.
WEEK 5: at Las Vegas (6-11)
Oct. 9, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)
2022 recap: The Raiders first year under head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler was a mess. Las Vegas began the season 2-7 and benched quarterback Derek Carr late in the year. The Raiders also became the first team in NFL history to lose five or more times in a season while leading by double-digits in the second half.
Offseason moves: The Raiders signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a three-year, $67 million deal in free agency. Las Vegas also added wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and used the seventh overall pick in the NFL Draft on defensive end Tyree Wilson.
WEEK 6: BYE
WEEK 7: at Denver (5-12)
Oct. 22, 3:25 p.m. (CBS)
2022 recap: It was one and done for head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the Green Bay Packers’ former offensive coordinator. The Broncos ranked near the top in several key defensive categories. But quarterback Russell Wilson had a miserable season (16 TDs, 11 INTs, 84.4 passer rating), the offense ranked last in scoring (16.9) and Hackett made several costly in-game decisions leading to a frustrating season for everyone.
Offseason moves: The Broncos’ biggest move was trading a first- and second-round draft pick for Super Bowl winning coach Sean Payton, a man they believe can save Wilson and the offense. Denver also signed offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey to a four-year, $87.5 million deal, guard Ben Powers (four years, $51 million contract and defensive lineman Zach Allen (three years, $48 million).
WEEK 8: vs. Minnesota (13-4)
Oct. 29, noon (FOX)
2022 recap: The Vikings captured their first NFC North title since 2017 and won 13 games despite having a negative point differential (-3). Eleven of Minnesota’s wins were by one score, including a 39-36 victory over Indianapolis in which they trailed 33-0. The Vikings’ first loss in a one-score game, though, came in the postseason when they fell to the New York Giants, 31-24, in the Wild Card round.
Offseason moves: Minnesota lost defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, cornerback Patrick Peterson, linebacker Eric Kendricks and wideout Adam Thielen in free agency. On the flip side, the Vikings added defensive linemen Marcus Davenport and Dean Lowry, tight end Josh Oliver and cornerback Byron Murphy. Minnesota then added speedy slot receiver Jordan Addison with its first round draft choice.
WEEK 9: vs. Los Angeles Rams (5-12)
Nov. 5, noon (FOX)
2022 recap: The Rams won the Super Bowl in 2021, then bottomed out in 2022. Los Angeles’ 12 losses were the most-ever by a defending Super Bowl champion and its .294 winning percentage was the worst-ever by a defending champ. Los Angeles finished the year with the third-most players on injured reserve, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford, wideout Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Offseason moves: The Rams mortgaged their future on the way to their 2021 Super Bowl title and were in salary cap hell this offseason. They traded Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey and wideout Allen Robinson, released linebackers Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd, and lost kicker Matt Gay, defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines, safety Taylor Rapp and others in free agency.
WEEK 10: at Pittsburgh (9-8)
Nov. 12, noon (CBS)
2022 recap: The Steelers played their first season since 2004 without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And after a rough start, Pittsburgh won its final four games and finished above .500. The Steelers maintained their streak of 19 consecutive non-losing seasons, 16 of which have come under head coach Mike Tomlin. And rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett showed promise and posted a 7-5 record.
Offseason moves: The Steelers signed guard Isaac Seumalo, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Keanu Neal in free agency, traded for wideout Allen Robinson and drafted offensive tackle Broderick Jones in the first round. Key losses in free agency included linebacker Devin Bush, cornerback Cameron Sutton and safety Terrell Edmunds.
WEEK 11: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (10-7)
Nov. 19, noon (FOX)
2022 recap: The Chargers captured a playoff spot for the first time since 2018, but blew a 27-0 lead and lost to Jacksonville, 31-30, in the Wild Card round. That was the third-largest blown lead in NFL postseason history and the biggest in franchise history. Many expected head coach Brandon Staley to be fired after the season, but he was retained for a third year and enters 2023 on an extremely hot seat.
Offseason moves: The Chargers were quiet in free agency, with former Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks being their biggest acquisition. The biggest loss was linebacker Drue Tranquill. Los Angeles then added to its already dynamic offense by selecting wideout Quentin Johnson in the first round of the draft.
WEEK 12: at Detroit (9-8)
Nov. 23, 11:30 a.m. (FOX)
Analysis: The Packers and Lions will meet on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 2013. The teams have met 21 times on Thanksgiving, with Detroit holding a 12-8-1 lead.
WEEK 13: vs. Kansas City (14-3)
Dec. 3, 7:20 p.m. (NBC)
2022 recap: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes won his second MVP award and the Chiefs captured their second Super Bowl in four years. Kansas City lost at Cincinnati in Week 13, then ripped off eight straight wins on the way to a Super Bowl title. The offense ranked No. 1 in yards and points, while the defense was a respectable 11th in total yards.
Offseason moves: The Chiefs were hit hard in free agency, losing tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie, wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman, safety Juan Thornhill and defensive end Charles Omenihu. Kansas City did add offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor in free agency and used its first rouhd draft pick on defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
WEEK 14: at New York Giants (9-7-1)
Dec. 11, 7:15 p.m. (ABC)
2022 recap: The Giants had their first non-losing season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2016. New York then toppled host Minnesota, 31-24, in the wild card round before falling to eventual NFC champion Philadelphia.
Offseason moves: The Giants’ biggest move was re-signing quarterback Daniel Jones. They also traded for tight end Darren Waller, signed defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and drafted cornerback Deonte Banks.
WEEK 15: vs. Tampa Bay (8-9)
Dec. 17, noon (FOX)
2022 recap: The Buccaneers won the atrocious NFC South and became the fourth team in NFL history to reach the postseason with a losing record. Dallas then routed Tampa Bay, 31-14, in the wild card round. Just 24 days later, quarterback Tom Brady — arguably the best player in the history of the sport — retired.
Offseason moves: The Buccaneers’ biggest move was signing quarterback Baker Mayfield to try replacing Brady. Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, is already on his fourth team. Tampa Bay took several hits in free agency, including the loss of cornerback Sean Bunting, defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches, safety Keanu Neal and offensive tackle Donovan Smith.
WEEK 16: at Carolina (7-10)
Dec. 24, noon (FOX)
2022 recap: Carolina began the year 1-4, fired head coach Matt Rhule and replaced him with defensive passing game coordinator Steve Wilks. Carolina did show improvement, going 5-3 in the second half of the season, but missed the postseason for a fifth straight year. On Jan. 26, Frank Reich was named the Panthers’ new head coach.
Offseason moves: Carolina’s biggest move was trading two first-round draft picks, two second rounders and wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears for the No 1 pick in this year’s draft. The Panthers then selected quarterback Bryce Young with the top overall selection. Carolina also added running back Miles Sanders, tight end Hayden Hurst, wideout Adam Thielen and safety Vonn Bell in free agency.
WEEK 17: at Minnesota (13-4)
Dec. 31, 7:20 p.m. (NBC)
Analysis: The Packers have played on New Year’s Eve just six times in franchise history and are 5-1 in those contests. The first four were all playoffs games, highlighted by a 21-17 win over Dallas in the 1967 Ice Bowl and a 37-0 victory over the New York Giants in the 1961 NFL Championship Game. Green Bay’s last New Year’s Eve appearance was also its only loss — a 35-11 setback to Detroit in 2017.
WEEK 18: vs. Chicago (3-14)
Date and time, TBA
Analysis: The Packers and Bears come full circle, meeting in Week 1 and again in Week 18. The Packers currently hold a 105-95-6 lead in the series between the NFL’s two oldest rivals. The Bears led this series by 22 games in 1992, but Brett Favre went 22-10 against Chicago and Aaron Rodgers was 24-5.