GREEN BAY, Wis. – There’s no place like home for the Green Bay Packers.
In the regular season, anyway.
Under coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers have dominated at Lambeau Field. Of course, they’ve dominated just about everywhere with their first-in-history three consecutive seasons of 13-plus wins, but the Packers have been especially powerful at their historic home.
Over the last three seasons, the Packers are 22-2 at Lambeau Field. That’s the best mark in the NFL by a wide, wide margin. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a distant second at 18-6-1, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs at 18-7, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills at 17-8, and Los Angeles Rams at 16-8.
Green Bay has outscored its opponents by 257 points, 82 points distant of the New England Patriots and 168 points better than the Chiefs.
The 22 home wins are the most by a coach in his first three seasons in NFL history, and the three consecutive seasons of at least seven home wins is a first for the Packers since 2010 through 2012.
Turnovers have been a big factor. The Packers are plus-26, a resounding 10 better than the Steelers and not all that far behind the combined plus-31 of the Steelers and Titans.
Aaron Rodgers has been the other overriding factor. At home the past three seasons, he owns a league-best 112.3 passer rating. He’s thrown 57 touchdowns vs. five interceptions. From the land of the absurd: Of the 37 quarterbacks to throw at least 300 passes in home games, Rodgers has thrown the most touchdown passes and the fewest interceptions.
Of course, all of this rings hollow without playoff success. The Packers haven’t won the Super Bowl since 2010. In regular-season play from 2011 through 2021, the Packers are a league-best 69-17-2. Rodgers’ 110.5 passer rating trails only Drew Brees, and Rodgers’ 7.60 touchdown-to-interception ratio is far better than Russell Wilson’s runner-up mark of 4.46.
It’s a different story in the postseason, where the days of Lambeau Field being a frozen fortress are long, long in the past. Over that same span, the Packers are 5-4 in home playoff games. That’s tied for the most losses, and their .556 winning percentage ranks only 15th.
In 2011, Rodgers won his first MVP and the Packers were the No. 1 seed, but the were crushed by the Giants. Rodgers’ passer rating was 78.5. In 2020, Rodgers won his third MVP and the Packers were the No. 1 seed but they were ousted in the divisional round by the Buccaneers. Rodgers’ passer rating was an excellent 101.6 but he failed to take full advantage of three interceptions by Tom Brady and couldn’t get the ball in the end zone in the waning moments. In 2021, Rodgers won his fourth MVP and the Packers again were the No. 1 seeds but they were shocked by the 49ers. Rodgers’ passer rating was 91.9 as the offense went into a coma after a hot start in what might be the most damning playoff loss in franchise history.
Regular-season success is great – it’s what gets a team into the playoffs – but, with the clock running out on Rodgers, it’s long past time to find the winning postseason formula.
Green Bay Packers Home Schedule
Week 2: Home vs. Chicago Bears
Date, time and TV: Sunday, Sept. 18, 7:20 p.m., NBC.
Rodgers-era home record: 12-2.
Point spread: Packers by 10.
2021 record: 6-11. Points for: 18.3 (27th). Points against: 23.9 (21st).
Key additions: CB Kyler Gordon (second round), S Jaquan Brisker (second round), WR Velus Jones (third round), C Lucas Patrick (free agency), DT Justin Jones (free agency), WR Byron Pringle (free agency).
Key losses: OLB Khalil Mack (trade), WR Allen Robinson (free agency), DT Eddie Goldman (released), RB Tarik Cohen (released).
Pregame warmups: The Packers swept the last three season series but will face a new challenge with the Bears firing Matt Nagy and hiring Matt Eberflus. Former Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy will be the play-calling offensive coordinator. You can be sure that Getsy will be spilling a lot of beans to shed light on Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay offense. For the 11th time in the past 12 years, Packers-Bears at Lambeau will be played under the primetime lights.
Fixing the Bears won’t be easy. Their projected receivers are Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, Pringle and Jones. And Robert Quinn – who had two sacks in 2020 but 18.5 in 2021 – is the only legitimate pass rusher.
Week 4: Home vs. New England Patriots
Date, time and TV: Sunday, Oct. 2, 3:25 p.m., CBS
Rodgers-era home record: 1-0.
Point spread: Packers by 6.
2021 record: 7-10. Points for: 27.2 (sixth). Points against: 17.8 (second).
Key additions: OL Cole Strange (first round), WR Tyquan Thornton (second round), WR DeVante Parker (trade).
Key departures: CB J.C. Jackson (free agency), G Ted Karras (free agency), G Shaq Mason (trade), LB Kyle Van Noy (released).
Pregame warmups: Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a career record of 290-143. Last season, the Patriots went 10-7, a three-win improvement after going 7-9 in 2020. Before that, they incredibly won 10-plus games 17 consecutive seasons. With another season of 10 wins, Belichick will become the third coach in NFL history with 300 career victories. Including six Super Bowls, he’s won 31 playoff games; nobody else has won more than 20.
Their offense should be better in Year 2 under quarterback Mac Jones, who led all rookies with a 92.5 passer rating and 67.6 percent completion rate. The defense was great last season but lost premier cornerback J.C. Jackson to the Chargers.
Week 6: Home vs. New York Jets
Date, time and TV: Sunday, Oct. 16, noon, Fox
Rodgers-era home record: 1-0.
Point spread: Packers by 9 1/2.
2021 record: 4-13. Points for: 18.2 (28th). Points against: 29.6 (32nd).
Key additions: CB Ahmad Gardner (first round), WR Garrett Wilson (first round), DE Jermaine Johnson (first round), RB Breece Hall (second round), G Laken Tomlinson (free agency), CB D.J. Reed (free agency), TE C.J. Uzomah (free agency), S Jermaine Whitehead (free agency), TE Tyler Conklin (free agency).
Key departures: DT Folorunso Fatukasi (free agency), S Marcus Maye (free agency), RT Morgan Moses (free agency).
Pregame warmups: The Jets, who visited Green Bay last year for joint practices and a preseason game, finished 4-13 under first-year coach Robert Saleh. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, the second pick of the 2021 draft, finished last in the NFL in passer rating and the defense finished last in the league in points allowed. However, they did beat Cincinnati, which advanced out of the AFC to last year’s Super Bowl.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Saleh are close friends. They started together as graduate assistants at Central Michigan and were groomsmen at each other’s weddings.
“It’s pretty special. He’s like a brother to me,” LaFleur said at the league’s spring meetings. “I think that there’s a real opportunity for the Jets to take another step in the right direction. Certainly, it’s never easy when there’s transition and you come in with a roster as young as they have, and I would say there’s been a lot of turnover on that roster in two years.
“It’s about making those incremental steps that nobody wants to ever hear about because we live in this world of instant gratification and, if you’re not a playoff team, everybody’s disappointed. Or, if you’re not winning the Super Bowl, everybody’s disappointed. So, I think you can’t be short-sighted in this deal. It is a process, and some teams are more equipped to win now. With the situation that I encountered, with more of a veteran team with obviously a Hall of Fame quarterback, the expectations should be a little bit different. I know nobody wants to hear that, nobody wants to talk about that, but that’s real. I think he did an outstanding job and I am excited about the future of the New York Jets.”
Week 10: Home vs. Dallas Cowboys
Date, time and TV: Sunday, Nov. 13, 3:25 p.m., Fox.
Rodgers-era home record: 3-2.
Point spread: Packers by 4 1/2.
2021 record: 12-5. Points for: 31.2 (first). Points against: 21.1 (seventh).
Key additions: OT Tyler Smith (first round), DE Sam Williams (second round), WR Jalen Tolbert (third round), DE Dante Fowler (free agency).
Key departures: WR Amari Cooper (trade), DE Randy Gregory (free agency), WR Cedrick Wilson (free agency), G Connor Williams (free agency).
Pregame warmups: This will be the return of coach Mike McCarthy. In 13 seasons in Green Bay, McCarthy fashioned a 125-77-2 record. He led the team to nine playoff berths, including eight in a row from 2009 through 2016. The Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, reached NFC Championship Games in 2014 and 2016, and went 15-1 in 2011. They claimed six NFC North crowns under his watch. He was fired in 2018 after a 4-7-1 start.
Led by quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys finished last season ranked No. 1 in points per game and yards per game and No. 2 in scoring differential. Rodgers led the NFL with a 111.9 passer rating; Prescott was third with a mark of 104.2.
Defensively, what can Micah Parsons (13 sacks, 20 tackles for losses) and Trevon Diggs (11 interceptions) do for encores?
Week 11: Home vs. Tennessee Titans
Date, time and TV: Thursday, Nov. 17, 7:15 p.m., Amazon Prime.
Rodgers-era home record: 2-0.
Point spread: Packers by 5 1/2.
2021 record: 12-5. Points for: 24.6 (15th). Points against: 20.8 (fifth).
Key additions: WR Treylon Burks (first round), CB Roger McCreary (second round), QB Malik Willis (third round), WR Robert Woods (trade).
Key departures: WR A.J. Brown (trade), G Rodger Saffold (released).
Pregame warmups: The Titans earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and, like the Packers in the NFC, squandered a season’s worth of work by going one-and-done in the postseason. This will be a huge season for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In 2019, he led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating and 9.6 yards per attempt. Those numbers fell to 106.5 and 8.7 in 2020 and 89.6 and 7.0 in 2021.
The trade of premier receiver A.J. Brown won’t help matters; the return of running back Derrick Henry, on the other hand, could be his salvation. Henry led the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 2019 and 2,027 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 2020. An injury limited him to eight games last year but he still rushed for 937 yards, which is more than Green Bay’s Aaron Jones accumulated in 15 games.
Week 15: Home vs. Los Angeles Rams
Date, time and TV: Monday, Dec. 19, 7:15 p.m., ESPN.
Rodgers-era home record: 3-0.
Point spread: Packers by 2 1/2.
2021 record: 12-5. Points for: 27.1 (eighth). Points against: 21.9 (15th).
Key additions: WR Allen Robinson (free agency), LB Bobby Wagner (free agency), G Logan Bruss (third round), CB Troy Hill (trade).
Key departures: OLB Von Miller (free agency), WR Robert Woods (trade), CB Darious Williams (free agency), G Austin Corbett (free agency), LT Andrew Whitworth (retirement), DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (free agency), P Johnny Hekker (released).
Pregame warmups: The Rams lost at Green Bay in late November, a third consecutive loss that left their all-in approach on the verge of disaster. But they rebounded by winning five straight and then storming through the playoffs for a Super Bowl championship. Top receiver Cooper Kupp led the NFL with 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns during the regular season, then led the NFL with 33 receptions for 478 yards and six more touchdowns in the postseason.
In his Rams debut, Matthew Stafford finished sixth in rating (102.9), third in yards (4,886) and second in touchdowns (41). He also chucked 17 interceptions; a dropped interception in the NFC Championship vs. San Francisco almost doomed their season. The defense is led by legend-in-the-making defensive tackle Aaron Donald (98 sacks, 150 tackles for losses in eight seasons) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
It was an eventful offseason, with some huge offseason losses perhaps offset by the additions of Robinson and Wagner.
Week 17: Home vs. Minnesota Vikings
Date, time and TV: Sunday, Jan. 1, 3:25 p.m., CBS
Rodgers-era home record: 8-4-2.
Point spread: Packers by 6 1/2.
2021 record: 8-9. Points for: 25.0 (14th). Points against: 25.1 (23rd).
Key additions: S Lewis Cine (first round), CB Andrew Booth (second round), G Ed Ingram (second round), LB Brian Asamoah (second round), OLB Za’Darius Smith (free agency), CB Chandon Sullivan (free agency), DT Harrison Phillips (free agency), LB Jordan Hicks (free agency).
Key departures: TE Tyler Conklin (free agency), DT Michael Pierce (free agency), S Xavier Woods (free agency), C Mason Cole (free agency).
Pregame warmups: The Vikings fired longtime coach Mike Zimmer and replaced him with Kevin O’Connell, the latest coach harvested from the Sean McVay coaching tree. As part of that staff are former Packers defensive coordinator Ed Donatell (same position), former Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (assistant head coach) and former Packers outside linebackers coach Mike Smith (same position).
Donatell’s got a lot of work to do. From 2015 through 2019, the Vikings recorded five consecutive top-10 finishes in points allowed. They ranked 29th in 2020 and 24th in 2021. Their new 3-4 scheme will feature Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter as the pass-rushing outside linebackers. The early draft picks should help.
Week 18: Home vs. Detroit Lions
Date, time and TV: Saturday, Jan. 7, or Sunday, Jan. 8, Time TBA, TV TBA.
Rodgers-era home record: 11-3.
Point spread: Packers by 7.
2021 record: 3-13-1. Points for: 19.1 (25th). Points against: 27.5 (31st).
Key additions: DE Aidan Hutchinson (first round), WR Jameson Williams (first round), DE Josh Paschal (second round), S Kerby Joseph (third round), WR D.J. Chark (free agency), Cb Mike Hughes (free agency).
Key departure: DE Trey Flowers (released), LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (free agency).
Pregame warmups: It’s a tradition unlike any other – the Packers closing the regular season against the Lions. This will be the seventh time in eight seasons, with Detroit winning last year’s meaningless finale at Ford Field.
Is Jared Goff the future of the Lions at quarterback? There will be no excuses because this is should be a legit receiver corps. So long as rookie receiver Jameson Williams is healthy, the quartet of Williams, Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown and tight end T.J. Hockenson could be about as good as it gets in the NFL. The line should be a strength, too, with Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell as bookend tackles.
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