I have little doubt in my mind that if Green Bay would have had home-field advantage in last season's playoffs that the Packers would have gone to the Super Bowl -- and probably beaten New England. The Pack were pretty much invincible at home but just a middling team on the road. They played pretty well most of the NFC title game in Seattle before blowing it.
So let's assume the Pack go unbeaten at home again in 2015, and they will certainly be favored to do so. Would another .500 road record be enough for home field? I do believe 12 wins will do it this season because I don't see Seattle getting quite to that number (or any other team for that matter). Maybe welcoming Brett Favre into the Packers Hall of Fame this month will be good karma for the team to get back to the Super Bowl.
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The Packers were 4-4 on the road last season, 3-5 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." Their 2015 road schedule ranks as the 15th-easiest in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2014 winning percentage of .504. That's the easiest in the NFC North, which is odd considering this is a first-place team.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 13 -- at Chicago (+5): The NFL's oldest rivalry kicks off the season, but it hasn't been much of one with Green Bay dominating Chicago since Rodgers became the starter. Pack haven't lost in Windy City since 2010. Green Bay rolled 38-17 in Chicago in Week 4 last season, the game after Rodgers' famous "R-E-L-A-X" comment. The Packers scored on their first six possessions, and Rodgers was nearly perfect (rating of 151.2) in throwing for 302 yards and four scores. Randall Cobb (113) and Jordy Nelson (108) each topped 100 yards, and each had two TD catches. Green Bay wins here again. Key trend: Packers have covered (and won) four straight as favorite in Windy City.
Oct. 4 -- at 49ers (+4): Short week for Green Bay as it's home to Kansas City on Monday in Week 3. The Niners are off a game at Arizona. Colin Kaepernick and Co. have given the Pack fits, winning the past four games. The last was a 23-20 wild-card game in January 2014 at Lambeau. Rodgers threw for only 177 yards on a bitterly cold day. That San Francisco defense was much better than this year's will be. Packers win. Key trend: Pack have not covered (and lost) past two trips to San Francisco, including playoffs.
Nov. 1 -- at Broncos (-2.5): This follows Green Bay's bye week, while Denver is also off its bye. So I guess that's fair. Could well be the last time Hall of Famers Rodgers and Peyton Manning are on the same field unless they meet in Super Bowl 50 (sorry, I don't count the Pro Bowl). That's very possible. Packers haven't faced Manning yet with the Broncos. Last meeting was 2011. This could easily be the only game this season that Green Bay is a dog. I say the Pack lose here. Key trend: Packers 3-7 ATS in past 10 as a road dog.
Nov. 8 -- at Panthers (+2.5): I could see Green Bay being a bit flat here after facing Manning and with an important home game the following week vs. Detroit Carolina is on a short week, hosting Indianapolis on Monday in Week 8. The Packers beat the visiting Panthers 38-17 in Week 7 last year; it was 28-3 at the half and already over. Rodgers missed just three passes in his 22 attempts for 255 yards and three scores. Cobb caught six for 121 and a TD. Panthers pull upset here. Key trend: Packers 4-6 ATS in past 10 at NFC South.
Nov. 22 -- at Vikings (+3): Green Bay is off that home game vs. the Lions, while Minnesota is in Oakland in Week 10. The Packers won 24-21 at the Vikings in Week 12 in 2014. Lacy had a key 4-yard run on third-and-2 late in the game to help ice it. Rodgers was 19-for-29 for 209 yards and two scores, while Lacy had 25 carries for 125 yards and a TD; he also caught a TD pass. Packers win here. Key trend: Packers 4-6 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series.
Dec. 3 -- at Lions (+2): This is a rarity in that it's a second straight Thursday game for Green Bay because it hosts Chicago on Thanksgiving in Week 12. Detroit is off its annual Thanksgiving home game, this time hosting Philly. The Packers' worst offensive game by far last year was a Week 3 19-7 loss at Ford Field. Rodgers threw for only 162 yards, Green Bay managed only 223 total yards and held the ball for only 21:47. The Packers lost despite forcing three turnovers. Lions win this. Key trend: Packers 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series.
Dec. 20 -- at Raiders (+7): Potential letdown game here for the Packers following their Week 14 home showdown vs. Dallas. Oakland is off a game at Denver. Of course, Rodgers is from California and went to Cal, so this and the 49ers game likely will have special meaning for him. Green Bay hasn't been to Oakland since 2003, but the Pack have won six straight in the series. Packers win here. Key trend: Packers 3-7 ATS in past 10 as a road favorite of at least 7 points.
Dec. 27 -- at Cardinals (+1): Arizona is off a Week 15 game in Philadelphia. This also has the chance to be a bit of a trap game if the Packers' Week 17 home matchup vs. Minnesota is important for the division. First meeting between Pack and Cards since 2012. Arizona wins. Key trend: Packers 5-5 ATS in past 10 at NFC West.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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