The Packers schedule: The early bye could be trouble
I'm not a believer in trying to predict wins and losses in April but there are a few takeaways from the release of the 2013 NFL schedule.
The thing that jumps out at me is the Week 4 bye for the Packers. I cannot recall a year in which Green Bay had a bye this early and as it turns out it's been a good thing the Packers had a bye in the middle portion of the schedule. You may remember that last year the injuries started piling up in late October and the Week 10 bye came at the right time. For a team that has dealt with more than their share of injuries over the last few years an early bye may not be helpful in the healing process.
But there's a second issue to the early bye. The Packers will play 13 regular season games in a row after the bye. If they qualify for the playoffs but don't get a first round bye they would need to play three more games to reach the Super Bowl That's 16 straight games without a break. Not since 2005 has a team reached the Super Bowl with a bye so early in the season. Is it a coincidence? Maybe. It should be noted that the 2002 Raiders, 2003 Panthers and 2004 Patriots all had their bye earlier than Week 5. But not since the 2005 Steelers has a team run through the season for so long without a bye. Obviously, it's not impossible but when the margin of error is razor thin, has it was for the Packers last year, an early bye could be detrimental.
A few other notes:
Facing Washington so early in the year could benefit the Packers seeing as how we're not sure if RGIII will be 100% by then.
The Thanksgiving game at Detroit has become an every-other-year tradition for the Packers. This will mark the fourth time since 2007 the Packers face the Lions on turkey day.
At this point it's hard to gauge the toughest stretch but it might be the Eagles-Giants-Vikings stretch in mid-November. The Packers defense will be tested by the new lightning-quick Philly offense and we saw what happened against New York and Minnesota in the regular season last year.
Yes, the Packers don't have back-to-back road games, which is nice, but in my mind the "road trip" doesn't have as much impact as an early bye.