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Another Look At The 2010 Opponents


With the 2010 schedule expected to be announced sometime between now and the draft later this month, it seems an appropriate time to take another look at the Packers' opponents for the upcoming season and how much they've changed, if at all, from the last time Green Bay faced them.


No team in the NFC North will look as different from last year to this as the Chicago Bears, and not just from a personnel standpoint. With former St. Louis head coach Mike Martz taking over as Chicago's offensive coordinator, the Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler will be running a much more wide-open offense that they hope is a better match for Cutler's skills.

The Bears have made significant personnel changes, too, with the big free-agent signing of defensive end Julius Peppers and the pairing of former Minnesota running back Chester Taylor with Matt Forté for a 1-2 backfield punch. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who was lost for the season when he broke his wrist at Lambeau Field in the opener last year, should be back as well, but longtime defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown won't be.

Due to last year's Cutler trade, the Bears don't have much in the way of high draft picks, so their roster may not change much more from here on out. But a lot of changes already have happened pre-draft in Chicago.

For the Minnesota Vikings, they enter 2010 the same way the Packers entered 2008 - just an overtime away from going to the Super Bowl the previous year but wondering whether Brett Favre will return as their quarterback. Favre hasn't made an announcement yet, and may not for some time, but the Vikings also haven't made any changes on the QB depth chart.

Otherwise, the Vikings will look similar personnel-wise, except Taylor's departure puts an even greater load on Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson, while the courts are still sorting out the possible suspensions of defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams.

The Packers and Vikings played both of their games last year in the first half of the season, which ended with the Packers 4-4 and the Vikings 7-1. After that, the Packers went 7-2 and the Vikings 6-4 (including playoffs). So other than the Favre decision, it will also be interesting to see where these rivalry games fall on the new schedule.

The Detroit Lions didn't make as big a free-agency splash as the Bears, but they did acquire some notable names. Nate Burleson could become the complement at wide receiver to Calvin Johnson the Lions have been looking for, while defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and defensive tackle Corey Williams, a former Packer, bring new blood to the defensive front.

Aside from that, Detroit is counting on improvement from its young talent, and there's plenty from recent drafts including quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Brandon Pettigrew (who tore an ACL against the Packers on Thanksgiving last year), safety Louis Delmas and linebacker DeAndre Levy, a former Wisconsin Badger. Plus, the Lions have the No. 2 overall pick in this month's draft and four picks in the top 100 to add to their core of youth.


The last time the Packers faced this division in its entirety was 2007, but they've seen the Dallas Cowboys every season since then, making the 2010 meeting the fourth straight year the two teams play and third in a row at Lambeau.

After close losses in '07 and '08, the Packers finally got in the win column against the Cowboys last season, a victory that sparked Green Bay's second-half surge. The most notable changes to the Dallas roster so far came last week, when veteran offensive tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin were released, but otherwise Dallas looks much the same as it has the past few years.

So the Packers will once again prepare for a heavy dose of quarterback Tony Romo, running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones, receivers Miles Austin and Roy Williams and tight end Jason Witten, a group they shut out for 59 minutes, 22 seconds last November.

From this division, the Washington Redskins will differ the most from the last time they played the Packers, in '07. Washington is on its second new head coach since then, Mike Shanahan, and just acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb from the division-rival Eagles. The Redskins' feature back could be any one of Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson or Willie Parker as well.

In short, Washington won't resemble the playoff team from '07 that visited Lambeau nor the outfit that struggled to a 12-20 mark the past two seasons.

The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, will be in a position similar to the Packers two years ago, ushering in the era of a new quarterback in Kevin Kolb. Having not seen the Eagles since the '07 season opener, the Packers also have never faced running back LeSean McCoy and speedy receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, nor tight end Brent Celek since he became a key offensive weapon for this team.

As for the New York Giants, the Packers haven't had any chance at revenge since the overtime NFC Championship in January 2008, but it's almost a given the rematch at Lambeau won't be as cold. Since winning the Super Bowl that year, the Giants earned a first-round playoff bye in '08 but lost right away, then failed to make the postseason after a 5-0 start a year ago, so the direction of the franchise is hard to figure.

In that time, Eli Manning remains the key figure on offense, while receiver Steve Smith has grown from a No. 3 to a No. 1, leading the NFC in receptions last year. Safety Antrel Rolle, whom the Packers saw in Arizona's defensive backfield last year, was New York's big free-agent signing.


The Packers haven't seen any of these teams since 2006, and other than Tom Brady still quarterbacking the New England Patriots, nothing else remotely looks the same. Green Bay went 1-3 against this bunch four years ago, with the home losses to the Patriots and New York Jets particularly one-sided.

{sportsad300}The Packers haven't traveled to New England since 2002, while the Jets game will be at their new stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., against a team coming off an AFC Championship appearance with a young star at quarterback in Mark Sanchez. This game will also feature the top two candidates for NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, Green Bay's Charles Woodson and the Jets' Darrelle Revis. Woodson won the award while Revis' head coach, Rex Ryan, proclaimed his guy the best cornerback in the game.

The Packers haven't had to defend the "Wildcat" formation much, if at all, since it entered the league in 2008, but they'll get a healthy dose of it against the Miami Dolphins, who would be an interesting late-season opponent in the cold weather, if the schedule falls that way, considering their usual climate.

The Buffalo Bills wouldn't bat an eyelash at a late-season trip to Lambeau, weather-wise, while Chan Gailey is the second new head coach the Packers will face, though like Shanahan he's been a head coach previously as well.


The Packers' second-place finish in 2009 dictated they play the second-place teams from both the NFC West and NFC South.

That means the San Francisco 49ers will visit Lambeau for the second straight season and won't be intimidated, nearly coming back from a 23-3 deficit here last November before falling 30-24. Receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis did most of the damage and figure to do so again.

And finally, a road game against the Atlanta Falcons will be the Packers' second look at the Matt Ryan era at quarterback. Ryan's win at Lambeau in Week 5 of 2008 as a rookie helped establish the Falcons as a team on the rise that year and Ryan as a legitimate franchise quarterback. The Packers had their hands full with burly running back Michael Turner in that game and can expect more of the same.

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