With Burt Angeli on vacation, I’ve got dibs on the Green Bay Packers Media Guide.
(Close your eyes and wash away those images of Allen Barbre whiffing at right tackle ... he's a guard now. Training camp opens Saturday, baby.)
The oddsmakers are predicting 9.5 wins for the Packers in this year’s regular season. It’s the same for the Vikings.
The Bears are projected for eight wins; the Lions, five.
If the predicted totals for the Packers (11-5 last season) and Vikings (12-4) seem low, it’s because they both face tough road tests.
Apart from their division games, the Packers are on the road against Philadelphia, Washington, New York Jets, Atlanta and New England. Of those, the Packers may be an underdog or toss-up against all but Washington.
Minnesota travels to New Orleans, New York Jets, New England, Washington and Philadelphia. Like the Packers, they may be favored only against Washington.
In two years with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Green Bay has just one victory on the road against a winning team. That was last year’s regular season finale at Arizona, where the Cardinals gave up early and seemingly played possum. (The Packers lost an overtime shootout at Arizona the next week in the playoffs.)
It’s possible, of course, to win an NFL championship without ever knocking off a winning team at their house.
The Packers did it in 1996, finishing 13-3 with road losses to the Vikings (9-7), Chiefs (9-7) and Cowboys (10-6). Green Bay went 8-0 at home and beat five losing teams on the road. They earned home field for the playoffs and went on to win the Super Bowl.
In the Brett Favre era (1992-2007), the Packers arguably had but a handful of road wins against premier opponents — the 49ers several times, the Patriots a couple of times, the Bucs. The 1995 playoff victory at San Francisco stands out. But the next week, the Packers lost at Dallas, which was always Favre’s hall of horrors.
I’m not trying to diminish Favre’s standing ... at the time, it seemed Superman would have struggled in those games at Texas Stadium. That’s just the nature of the NFL.
As for Minnesota’s Metrodome, eventually the No. 4 kryptonite wore off. After five straight losses at Minneapolis, the Packers swept a 9-7 Vikings team in 1997. They also won in the Metrodome against an 11-5 team in 2000, a 9-7 team in 2003, an 8-8 team in 2004, a 6-10 team in 2006 and an 8-8 team in 2007.
This season, the schedule might favor the Packers in the Vikings matchups.
Minnesota visits Green Bay on Sunday night, Oct. 24. It’s part of a wicked stretch for the Vikings that begins with a trip to the Jets, a home game against Dallas, the showdown at Lambeau and a visit to New England.
When the Packers travel to the Metrodome (or Mall of America Field) on Nov. 21, they’ll be coming off a bye.
By the way, Dallas also travels to Green Bay this season — Nov. 7, another Sunday nighter.
The Packers' road game against the Bears is a Monday nighter — Sept. 27.
Aaron Rodgers ... road wimp or road warrior. It's a season of many tests.