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Wanted: Signature Road Wins

 

One of the keys to NFL success is winning games on the road.  The 2018 Green Bay Packers nearly put up a goose egg on the road en route to one of their worst seasons over the past three decades.  If the Packers want to return to big-time success, they have to find a way to win some big road games.

First things first, the Packers need to get back to winning, period.  As far as road wins, they need any they can get, let alone beating a winning team in their own building.  It's no secret that playing on the road in the NFL has never proven to be easy. 

The past two seasons have been down years anyway but the early 2017 game against the Cowboys in Dallas was the last big road win the team has enjoyed.  That was nearly two seasons ago although the fact isn't lost that the Packers may have been a touchback away from a huge win against the Los Angeles Rams last year.  Can 2019 yield better results?

This season and with a new head coach, the historical odds stack against the Packers winning big.  Presumably, winning on the road could also be a taller task as the team works through any new kinks.  The schedule is something that is out of the team's control and on the road this season, the Packers will face the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, all playoff teams from a year ago.  That represents one quarter of the schedule.

By the time the Packers face some of those teams, they may have proven not to be as good in 2019, but they're still likely to be a tough out.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers used to say if his team can win their home games and go .500 on the road, they set themselves up nicely for the postseason.

Technically, the Packers can lose all four of the above-mentioned games and still accomplish that road record.  But can they afford to lose all of those big games?

The last time the Packers won a prime time road game was in week 17 of the 2016 season when they beat the Detroit Lions to clinch the NFC North.  Green Bay has three prime time road games this season (Chicago, Kansas City and Minnesota).  

The Matt LaFleur era kicks off with one of those in week one against the Bears.  While the Bears are early favorites to win the North again, week one is often a good time for a game like this if you're the underdog.  Teams aren't yet into the flow of their season and not as sharp.  That can also easily be the case for the Packers, too.

How are you feeling about Packers' chances on the road this year at this way-too-early stage?

 

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (65) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

They're going to need to win at least one of those games to win the division. More likely, two of them. They could probably sneak into the playoffs with a 9-7 record losing all four of those games, but that margin for error in the rest of the games gets very very thin at that point.

Good teams win games on the road. Bad teams find ways to lose them. The Packers, for a variety of reasons, have not been a good team since the latter half of 2016, and I'd argue that was all Zeus doing Zeus things.

More realistically, its been since 2014 that GB has been truly a "good" team for any amount of time. A half decade ago. Yes, when Murphy should have fired TT and MM. Harsh words, but true ones.

BoCallahan's picture

BM,
I just want to make sure I understand you correctly; who is the Zeus that you are referring to? This is an honest question. It must be AR.
The only other person I could think of was MM. If my assumption is correct, those ARE harsh words. Some people would get tarred & feathered, then publicly heckled for saying such a thing. On another note, keep in mind the Bears have a new DC and lost 2 key players in their secondary (Amos & Callahan). It will take them a while to gel together. I do not believe they will be as strong as they were last year. I’m looking for a W week 1!

Samson's picture

BM can't be paying attention to the massive talent infusion that has occurred through free agency & the draft.--- Also, TT/MM are long gone & cannot do anymore damage.

BM will be sing'in a far different tune by seasons end.

Bearmeat's picture

As Nagler's most recent chat states: "Potential does not = progress."

Yes, this team has more potential than any Packer team since 14. No, that doesn't mean they'll meet it. Gotta play the games.

Samson's picture

Smith, Smith, Amos & Turner. --- These are proven players in the NFL. -- Savage, Gary, Jenkins, Sternberger & the rest are rookies. -- The draftees are still potential until they get some on-field snaps. --- My guess -- more than one rookie will have a major impact on season 2019.

Your argument is a fail.

Bearmeat's picture

Ridiculous.

1st of all, have those free agents played IN Green Bay WITH this current coaching staff? NO. Have they proven that they can fit IN THIS system? No.

2nd - Who's to say that one player who has done well in the past won't change for the worse? Or one who hasn't won't change for the better?

Your argument, sir, is based on faulty logic.

As I mentioned above, I do think this team has more potential than any in the past 4 years in Green Bay. But that is ALL it is right now.

dobber's picture

Pagano is no slouch coordinating a defense, and he has a high-end front 7 that I think not even Dom Capers could mess up. I don't think those two changes in the secondary will make much difference. Sure, Callahan was a quality slot and Amos was a very good SS, but with that front 7, even HHCD is going to look passable.

jannes bjornson's picture

That's why you have to run on them and get some bodies banging on those pass rushers.

Bearmeat's picture

Good luck with that. On the contrary, I think the way to beat the Bears defense is to play strength on their weakness. In week 1, we're going to have our starting OL completely healthy (we think). Let our OL handle their front 7 for 3-4 seconds a pass. That will be enough to exploit their weak secondary. And no, their secondary really isn't great.

I'd argue that while you run, you also throw out 3-4 wide and let ARod pick on their weakest CB. Our 3rd WR > their 3rd CB. And I'm licking my chops waiting for ARod to make HHCD (and most Bears fans) look like a fool.

Old School's picture

Well, this "not good" team did make the NFC Championship game in 2016.

I think TT is one of the best Packer GMs in my lifetime. Behind Lombardi, for sure. Then it's going to be Ron Wolf, and then probably Thompson. Same for McCarthy as a coach....behind Lombardi, but not really anybody else. Holmgren is about the same.

So I just think that it's highly unlikely that our GM, Gutekunst, and our HC, Lafleur, are both going to be better than the guys that preceded them. Hope I'm wrong.

We need to win games in our division. At home or on the road. The previous year, we had one miraculous win. The year before wasn't any better. If we can't go better than 3-3, why would we deserve the playoffs?

Samson's picture

Someday, you'll have to admit that AR carried both TT & MM. -- On their own w/out riding a HOF QB, they were average at best in their jobs.

jannes bjornson's picture

Just think if wolf had the brains to hire Andy Reid instead of sherman or the Mccarthy. Their would be a couple more Lombardi's in the trophy case.
It would be different if the story didn't include two HOF QBs in succession.
Why settle? How 'bout them Brewers etc.

Samson's picture

Sherman was a disaster, especially as a GM. -- Wolf did no one any favors by giving the entire ship to Sherman.

Love the "Brew Crew"... A playoff team... Need to sneak past those nasty cubbies. (and stay healthy)

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Zeus's = Zook?

Bearmeat's picture

Zeus is my nickname for the great Aaron Rodgers. lol. ;)

John Galt's picture

Losing season coming up. The Packers are doing the 1968 to 1991 all over again. I watched it happen and it was not nice but very, very obvious for all to see.

Besides, the NFL is clown show right now with the Left Wing of the Democrat Party running it like a 3rd rate circus.

Handsback's picture

Dallas is not a great home team, living here we hear about it all the time, so I could see that win. Chicago is a toss-up just because its Chicago. The Chiefs and Chargers were both solid teams last year but the Chargers could have more Packer fans than Charger fans in the stadium. The Chiefs have a great offense and a marginal defense but don't like to lose at home. So I would expect one loss in that group, and three wins if the Packer's talent stay healthy.

PatrickGB's picture

Hands, I see a very good possibility that we win those two games you mentioned. Yet I also see the team dropping a few games in early part of the season. New offenses often take time to gel. I think that it’s the end of the season streak that will matter most this year.

Nick Perry's picture

"New offenses often take time to gel."

But the 2019 Packers are different. THIS team now has a Defense that can carry an Offense until it does get on track. Mike Pettine, the DC who got 10.5 sacks out of Kyle Frackrell has got his guys or at least 90% of them I'd say.

The Packers defense will be the best in the NFC North this year.

Turophile's picture

I liked the A.Rodgers quote:
"Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers used to say if his team can win their home games and go .500 on the road, they set themselves up nicely for the postseason."

One example would be that the Pack go 7-1 in home games and 3-5 in away games. That is a 10-6 record which may well be enough to see the postseason.

If they go 4-4 away from home, those 11 wins pretty much guarantee postseason play.

dobber's picture

That quote is a good one for measuring a quality season and it goes back a long ways...before ARod. I think Holmgren used to say "protect home field and win half your road games". I don't think he was the first to say it, either. Still, it's a good benchmark for a strong regular season.

"If they go 4-4 away from home, those 11 wins pretty much guarantee postseason play."

I agree.

Old School's picture

Holmgren? I remember old guys saying it in the 60s. This saying must go back to near the beginning of time.

But yeah, at some point, you have to be able to beat a good team on the road. I'll agree with that. But the focus of the organization has to be to win the division and that means beating your division rivals, home and away.

As an aside, looking at our schedule, I think that winning all our home games is more accomplishable than going 4-4 on the road. There are some tough road games on that schedule. But our two toughest home games Minnesota and Chicago, and we get Minnesota the second week, on ten days rest. The rest of our home games look winnable to me: Lions. Panthers, Raiduhs, Broncos.....Eagles are probably the toughest of the batch after Chicago and Minnesota.

I think if we beat Minnesota in Week 2, we can probably go undefeated at home until the break, and even if we lost all our road games we'd still be 6-4 at the break. Then after the bye, two road games against SF and NY.....figure we win one.

Our last two games are against Minnesota and Detroit. On the road. We'll almost certainly have to win those to advance to the playoffs.

murf7777's picture

This year is the hardest for me to predict in over a decade. Mainly because of MLF cuz I still can’t get that initial press conference out of my mind. Since then from what I here and read has been much better. What I like most about him is he has “heart and soul” a “real” person. I believe he is a man of his word and not afraid to make tough decisions. Will be a good leader of men.

So, with a good leader, loaded up with high priced FA’s where we had holes, what I think are back to back good drafts, a very good DC my prediction is 10-11 wins and we win back the North! From there with ARod anything can happen.

The Bears Still Suck!!

Since '61's picture

First things first. The Packers need to win at home. Winning at home is the first sign of a good team. Winning on the road after winning at home is the sign of an even better team.

The Packers need to re-establish dominance at home. Lambeau needs to be considered not just a tough place to play but a difficult, tough place to win. The Packers did win 5 home games last season, 6 without an abysmal roughing the passer call against CM3 in the Vikings game. However, I wouldn’t exactly call them dominant wins. Then of course they lost to the Cardinals at home.

While I agree that the Packers need road wins they need to play solid, winning football at home. During the last 2 seasons Lambeau has become just another venue for teams to visit and far too many people wearing our opponents regalia are in the stands.

Win at home, build confidence, then take it on the road and get some road wins. Thanks, Since ‘61

splitpea1's picture

A solid defense and competent special teams play will go a long way towards establishing home dominance once again. That's the formula. The home crowd will be roaring once they sense the defense can hold its own and make key stops. This can't happen soon enough for me.

Samson's picture

Nice read, Jason, but...

"with a new head coach, the historical odds stack against the Packers winning big"

"winning on the road could also be a taller task as the team works through any new kinks. "

Both points are mostly myth.... Better talent & better coaching easily override your concerns. --- The Pack have better talent & coaching thanks to Gute/MLF.

murf7777's picture

Sampson....I would agree that we have better talent, but MLF hasn’t shown anything yet, certainly hasn’t shown that he is better then MM. I’m excited about the change but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.

Samson's picture

It won't take much to be better than MM. --- MM was weak in too many areas to be an NFL HC. -- AR provided MM's run in GB.

Remember, MM is presently unemployed. There are many reasons why.

jannes bjornson's picture

He coached Ryan into the SB after Atlanta destroyed the Packer defense in the NFC CH.
He can't help it that their defense collapsed against Brady in a monumental failure. He has credibility and he has a MVP QB to run his show, not a greenhorn or Jay Cutler.

jasonperone's picture

I'll admit I didn't dig too far into the stats to get an exact number of teams who have won at least 1 playoff game under a new HC in season 1 but I'll bet that number is not very big and I'd put up more than I normally would because I'm confident it's low.

The talent and better coaching, at this point, are the myths because we haven't seen anything in live competition yet. We have one month until we start getting an idea but there is nothing that yet suggests MLF or this team can put out anything better than last year's team did

Samson's picture

Come on... Jason... add Smith, Smith, Amos, Savage & Gary to any "D" in the NFL.... What have you got?
Probably a much improved & even (potentially) a dominating "D".

(Please, don't forget Alexander, Martinez, Clark & Daniels & the improved depth)

jasonperone's picture

I hope you’re right but it doesn’t mean anyone is at this point. Optimism and potential are great but have never made a tackle!

sam1's picture

WANTED ANY and ALL wins!

Point Packer's picture

Wanted: wins and competent coaching staff.

Old School's picture

IMO, if you win your home games and half your road games you finish 12-4. Most teams don't do that, meaning they get beat at home and/or they can't win on the road.

Of our road games, the three most important are Chicago, Minnesota, and Detroit. After that, it'd be Dallas, then SF and the Giants. And the two AFC games are the least important, and that's good, because the Chargers and Chiefs at home are going to be tough wins for anybody.

So if we can win 2 out of 3 in our division, and two out of three against Conference opponents, then we can get 4 wins on the road. Otherwise probably not.

I consider all the home games more important than the road games, but Chicago is clearly one of our most important, and most difficult, games of the year. Our home game against them, late in the season, might be our most important of the year.

Win our home games within the division. Win our conference home games. Win our AFC home games.

Chicago-Minnesota-Lions. Then, Eagles-Panthers-Skins. Raiders and Broncos. IMO, this is doable. Our second game of the season is at home against Minnesota, and it's our second most important game of the year. Answers will be found quickly.

Samson's picture

Wow!!..12-4. --- Sounds like you're finally moving into the light....Booyah!

Old School's picture

I didn't say that. Maybe you should re-read until you can understand what I said.

For the record, plain English, I do not expect us to go 12-4. I do not expect 4 road wins, and I do not expect us to go 8-0 at home. Those are goals, the same as every season.

Samson's picture

Your song will change by season's end.... Guaranteed.

Lare's picture

Once again, the question comes down to how long it will take for the players to gel in LaFleur's offensive scheme.

The defense will be better, the special teams will be better, and I think the offense will be better once it gets the offense down. Opponents also don't have any tape on the offense to use to prepare for it so that's an advantage for the Packers early in the season.

Samson's picture

Lare
Don't let the so-called football experts (here & elsewhere) fool ya... The (new) entire 53-man roster are professionals along with the entire "new & inspired" coaching staff led by MLF...All will be ready game 1 against da Bears on 9/5/19.... My guess--- GB led by AJ & AR put a 35+ spot on da Bears. -- The "Season of Domination Begins".

NFL football is not rocket science.

jannes bjornson's picture

Players, not plays.

Jonathan Spader's picture

"NFL football is not rocket science."

Tell that to the Lion's HC!

murf7777's picture

Lard, I think the key to the season is how Arod and MLF synchronize. I know Arod is highly intelligent, now he has to show it and be that MVP we know he can be.

Old School's picture

murf, I think our key to the season is running the ball. Once I realized that teams who ran the ball 450 times or more made the playoffs last season, I've become a disciple.

I mean, I think it dovetails nicely with an older QB that you want to keep healthy over a long season. You've just got to be willing to stick with it even when you're losing. You have to be successful at it.

450 attempts over 16 games is only about 28 rushes per game. Get a third back into the rotation with Williams and Jones and grind it out. I know people want to see Arod throw and make plays, but I want to see him doing it in January.

450. 450. That's a magic number and if we commit to it we'll be in the playoffs.

murf7777's picture

OS I agree and that is what MLf preaches and has shown as a coach....now Arod has to buy in! He should know that a strong running game might propel him to another MVP. It will be exciting to see how this plays out....Can’t Wait.

murf7777's picture

OS funny how we have emerged into the passing generation, but the basics of running and stopping the run still prevail in the NFL. Also, D wins championships, that will never change IMO.

wildbill's picture

Agreed, since 1961 the Packers have never won a championship without a top five defense. Nuff said.

Old School's picture

Actually, the four teams remaining at the end of last year were the four best offenses. I'm not sure how that supports the Defense Wins Championships narrative.

It is a long freakin season, and you're going to have to run well over 1000 plays, and it'd be nice if it wasn't your QB dropping back 600 times.
Running doesn't score as many points as passing, but it keeps your QB healthy and it keeps your defense off the field. It minimizes the impact of these edge rushers.

Like I said, I'm a believer after I saw that and looked into it. 450 rushing attempts almost certainly puts you in the playoffs.

murf7777's picture

OS, in the past, I've studied the D on SB winning teams over the past few decades and you will find 85%+ of the time the best defensive team wins. Offense will win occasionally but not often. Indy with Peyton was an example, but it takes a HOF QB for it normally to happen.

In addition, last year Pats had one of if not the best statistical defense the last 8 games of the year. Even with a terrible start of the year defensively they still rank high for the whole year. I also bet quite a bit and have found on big important games offense is the sexy pic but defense brings home the money:)

Samson's picture

No doubt GB will run more than previous seasons... However, AR is the highest rated QB in the history of the NFL (and will likely always be). -- MLF & AR will work out (as publicly stated) what the run/pass balance will be.--- There is no magic number of carries --- a myth of the analytics advocates.

" I want to see him doing it in January."---- Again, welcome to the light! -- Per OS, the Packers are playoff bound..... Booyah!

Old School's picture

Boy you are a bad reader. I do want to see him doing it in January. I don’t expect I will.

450 carries gets you into the playoffs 90% of the rime. Make a myth out of that.

Matt Gonzales's picture

To go further with this, I know I will get a lot of downvotes for saying it, but I would like to see Jones get maybe a max of 200 of those runs during the year. Fewer if he is getting a good amount of play as a ball catcher. He is GB’s most explosive back, but he also has had knee/leg issues two years in a row, and we need him fresh come December and hopefully beyond.

Williams showed some improvement last year when Jones went down, and has been an average to good pass blocker. We are still missing that Monty type - someone who excels at catching out of the backfield and making plays in space. As unpopular as it may be, when he inevitably gets released from wherever he is come October or November, I wouldn’t mind kicking those tires again. His play style was pretty much tailor-made for this offense, and when he inevitably gets hurt we will have a still-fresh Jones who can take a higher workload. He had some attitude issues last year, but I’m going to guess that pretty much everyone did, or else MM would have been able to finish the year.

BoCallahan's picture

I nearly exploded when I read...Lard. LOL!
Our nicknames are getting nicknames.

murf7777's picture

LOL, darn spellchecker!

Point Packer's picture

Wanted:

- GB to play their best and most talented RB
- GB to give said RB the ball
- At least competent Special Teams play
- More use of TE's
- Offensive creativity
- Consistently watching Ha Ha Clinton-Diz chasing (insert GB Packer here) into the endzone

packergal's picture

During the Bears still suck game, I would LOVE to watch HHCD play 20 yards off the line like he did in GB.

Then, the handoff to either Aaron Jones or Jamal Williams, who blow past the linebackers, get downfield and BOWL OVER AND THROUGH HHCD--into the end zone!

How fun!

Point Packer's picture

That would require that HHCD is within 20 yards of said RB at some point during the run. Or hasn't already retreated into the back of the endzone.

Point Packer's picture

Between HHCD and "Donnie" Barclay, I can't decide which I liked less.

Lare's picture

Nobody has to bowl HHCD over, he avoids contact at all costs.

Old School's picture

Then how did he get so many tackles?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Herding the ball carrier out of bounds counts as a tackle.

Old School's picture

And that’s what he did?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Yes.

Lphill's picture

I think all the road games are winnable, by the defense improving it improves the offense . I don’t think any other team is looking forward to facing Aaron Rodgers with a top 10 or better defense . Set the tone early by beating the Bears in their house .

murf7777's picture

Lphiill, On paper the defense looks better, but let's keep in mind we will also have many new players that will still have to learn Pettine's D. That being said, the 2nd year players in Pettine's D should react quicker so I'm hopeful the D is much better. It has to improve in order for us to make the playoffs. To win more then 50% of the road games we will need a minimum of a Top 10 D. Let's face facts we have to get better in all three phases of the game. Will the Packers? I have my money on it!

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