NFC North Insiders Analyze Schedules

By now, you know the schedule challenges in front of the Green Bay Packers. Our NFC North colleagues break down the schedules of their division rivals.
This strip-sack turned into a Packers touchdown at Detroit last year.
This strip-sack turned into a Packers touchdown at Detroit last year. / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – As Mike McCarthy famously said, the Green Bay Packers don’t hang division championship banners at Lambeau Field. Nonetheless, winning the division means a guaranteed home game, which means a cleaner path to hanging the only banner that does matter – Super Bowl champions.

The unveiling of the 2024 NFL schedules provides a roadmap to at least earning a spot in the playoffs. Focusing on the NFC North, where are the challenges? And the potential breathers?

Packer Central’s Bill Huber and his NFC North colleagues break it all down.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are situated to start the season fast. They’ll need to capitalize if they’re going to challenge for the division crown.

Afte opening the season in Brazil against the Eagles, the Packers will play three consecutive games against teams that failed to make the playoffs last year: home against the Colts, at the Titans and home against the Vikings. In Week 5, they’ll head to Los Angeles to face the Rams, a team they’ve dominated over the years and will be without Aaron Donald. After that, it’s back home to face the Cardinals. The Packers really need to be 5-1 headed into their Week 7 home game against the rising Texans.

Weeks 12-14 might be the most challenging of the season – not just for the Packers but for any team in the league. In a span of 12 days, the Packers will play three teams that finished a combined 35-16.

In Week 12, the Packers will host the NFC-champion 49ers, who have had their number. In Week 13, they’ll stay home to face the Dolphins on Thanksgiving night. In Week 14, it’s off to Detroit to face the Lions.

The final four opponents aren’t exactly pushovers – at Seattle, home against New Orleans, at Minnesota, home against Chicago – but that three-game gauntlet could make or break the season.

Chicago Bears

The schedule for the Bears is one favoring rookie quarterback Caleb Williams and an offense overhauled during the offseason with draft picks and free agents.

Opening against the Titans lets Williams start his career at home against a team with a worse record than the Bears had last year. Of their six games before the bye, the Bears will face only two teams that reached the playoffs in 2023: at the C.J. Stroud-led Texans in Week 2 and home against the Rams in Week 4, though it’s worth noting Los Angeles has lost three straight in Chicago.

After the bye, the Bears will face the Commanders, Cardinals and Patriots – three of the worst teams in the league.

The Bears will not face a divisional opponent until Week 11, when they host Green Bay. All of their divisional battles and a road game against the 49ers rate as their toughest games and come in their final eight. So, there is time for Rome Odunze, D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen to build passing connections with Williams and also time for Williams to learn about facing NFL quality defenses before the schedule toughens.

By playing the Panthers, Commanders, Patriots and Cardinals during the first half of the season – four teams with a combined record of 14-54 last year – the Bears could build momentum and establish a winning record in hopes it withstands a late gauntlet of games in the NFC North.

- Gene Chamberlain, BearDigest

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions have the potential to start the 2024 season on a very positive note. Weeks 1-4 provides the team an opportunity to gain early momentum, as Dan Campbell's squad starts the season playing against the Rams, Buccaneers, Cardinals and Seahawks.

Having three early home games should give Detroit a strong chance to start the season 4-0 or 3-1 by the time the bye week occurs in Week 5. Ford Field has become one of the most challenges venues for opponents to come in and have success the past couple of seasons.

The toughest stretch of games for Detroit appears to be Weeks 14-17. Green Bay is arguably the biggest threat to the Lions repeating as NFC North division champions. Detroit will be looking to avenge a disappointing Thanksgiving loss to the Packers by defeating their rival at home on Thursday Night Football in Week 14.

Buffalo is retooling, but they feature one of the games top quarterbacks in Josh Allen, who has beaten Detroit in Ford Field.

Back-to-back game on the road against Chicago (Week 16) and at San Francisco on Monday Night Football (Week 17) will not be easy. If Detroit is to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC, having a successful month of December will be paramount.

- John Maakaron, All Lions

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings' schedule is a tough one, there's no way around that. Based on projected win totals, it's the fifth-toughest in the NFL.

Both the Vikings and Bears finished 7-10 last season, but Chicago ended up in last place due to a common-games tiebreaker. That resulted in the Bears getting the fourth-place Panthers, Patriots and Commanders while the Vikings got the third-place Falcons, Jets and Giants. Two of those teams will have Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback for them this year.

After opening in New York against the Giants, the Vikings have a brutal six-game stretch: at home against San Francisco and Houston, at Green Bay, vs. the Jets in London, back home to face the Lions and at the Rams. Five of those six teams are coming off playoff appearances. The other one has Rodgers and an elite defense. Those are some tough early tests, regardless of whether Sam Darnold or J.J. McCarthy is playing quarterback for Minnesota.

The schedule eases up quite a bit in November, so the Vikings will need to take advantage of that if they're going to be in the playoff hunt. But then things get difficult again down the stretch, with a trip to Seattle followed by games against the Packers and Lions to wrap up the slate. It would be awfully impressive if Kevin O'Connell can get the Vikings to the playoffs, with this schedule, in what looks like a transitional/rebuilding year.

- Will Ragatz, Inside the Vikings

NFC North Schedules

Chicago Bears

Week 1 (Sept. 8): vs. Titans, noon

Week 2 (Sept. 15): at Texans (SNF), 7:20 p.m.

Week 3 (Sept. 22): at Colts, noon

Week 4 (Sept. 29): vs. Rams, noon

Week 5 (Oct. 6): vs. Panthers, noon

Week 6 (Oct. 13): vs. Jaguars (England), 7:30 a.m.

Week 7: BYE

Week 8 (Oct. 27): at Commanders, noon

Week 9 (Nov. 3): at Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

Week 10 (Nov. 10): vs. Patriots, noon

Week 11 (Nov. 17): vs. Packers, noon

Week 12 (Nov. 24): vs. Vikings, noon

Week 13 (Nov. 28): at Lions (Thanksgiving), 11:30 a.m.

Week 14 (Dec. 8): at 49ers, 3:25 p.m.

Week 15 (Dec. 15): at Vikings (MNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 16 (Dec. 22): vs. Lions, noon

Week 17 (Dec. 26): vs. Seahawks (TNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 18 (Jan. 4/5): at Packers, TBD

Detroit Lions

Week 1 (Sept. 8): vs. Rams (SNF), 7:20 p.m.

Week 2 (Sept. 15): vs. Buccaneers, noon

Week 3 (Sept. 22): at Cardinals, 3:25 p.m.

Week 4 (Sept. 30): vs. Seahawks (MNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 5: BYE

Week 6  (Oct. 13): at Cowboys, 3:25 p.m.

Week 7 (Oct. 20): at Vikings, noon

Week 8 (Oct. 27): vs. Titans, noon

Week 9 (Nov. 3): at Packers, 3:25 p.m.

Week 10 (Nov. 10): at Texans (SNF), 7:20 p.m.

Week 11 (Nov. 17): vs. Jaguars, noon

Week 12 (Nov. 24): at Colts, noon

Week 13 (Nov. 28): vs. Bears (Thanksgiving), 11:30 a.m.

Week 14 (Dec. 5): vs. Packers (TNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 15 (Dec. 15): vs. Bills, 3:25 p.m.

Week 16 (Dec. 22): at Bears, noon

Week 17 (Dec. 30): at 49ers (MNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 18 (Jan. 4/5): vs. Vikings, TBD

Green Bay Packers

Week 1 (Sept. 6): at Eagles (Brazil), 7:15 p.m.

Week 2 (Sept. 15): vs. Colts, noon

Week 3 (Sept. 22): at Titans, noon

Week 4 (Sept. 29) vs. Vikings, noon

Week 5 (Oct. 6): at Rams, 3:25 p.m.

Week 6 (Oct. 13): vs. Cardinals, noon

Week 7 (Oct. 20): vs. Texans, noon

Week 8 (Oct. 27): at Jaguars, noon

Week 9 (Nov. 3): vs. Lions, 3:25 p.m.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11 (Nov. 17): at Bears, noon

Week 12 (Nov. 24): vs. 49ers, 3:25 p.m.

Week 13 (Nov. 28): vs. Dolphins (Thanksgiving), 7:20 p.m.

Week 14 (Dec. 5): at Lions (TNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 15 (Dec. 15): at Seahawks (SNF), 7:20 p.m.

Week 16 (Dec. 23): vs. Saints (MNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 17 (Dec. 29): at Vikings, noon

Week 18 (Jan. 4/5): vs. Bears, TBD

Minnesota Vikings

Week 1 (Sept. 8): at Giants, noon

Week 2 (Sept. 15): vs. 49ers, noon

Week 3 (Sept. 22): vs. Texans, noon

Week 4 (Sept. 29) at Packers, noon

Week 5 (Oct. 6): vs. Jets (England), 8:30 a.m.

Week 6: BYE

Week 7 (Oct. 20): vs. Lions, noon

Week 8 (Oct. 24): at Rams (TNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 9 (Nov. 3): vs. Colts, noon

Week 10 (Nov. 10): at Jaguars, noon

Week 11 (Nov. 17): at Titans, noon

Week 12 (Nov. 24): at Bears, noon

Week 13 (Dec. 1): vs. Cardinals, noon

Week 14 (Dec. 8) vs. Falcons, noon

Week 15 (Dec. 15): vs. Bears (MNF), 7:15 p.m.

Week 16 (Dec. 22): at Seahawks, 3:05 p.m.

Week 17 (Dec. 29): vs. Packers, noon

Week 18 (Jan. 4/5): at Lions, TBD

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.