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What Aaron Rodgers’ future means for the Packers schedule and 2021 prospects

We go over Green Bay’s 2021 schedule and break down how the ongoing Rodgers’ saga could impact the team’s outlook.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is shown with back up quarterbacks Tim Boyle, left, and Jordan Love Monday, August 24, 2020 during the team’s training camp in Green Bay, Wis. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay has cast a cloud over the offseason. Well, it’s more like a thunderstorm ... wait no, it’s like a Hurricane of distractions for the Packers. Anyway, the NFL released the schedule for the 2021 regular season on Wednesday and the Packers have what appears to be a tough slate, per usual. That’s normally what happens when you finish first in the NFC North most seasons — you play the best competition in the League. With Rodgers’ future with the franchise unclear, it makes this schedule even more polarizing from multiple perspectives. Let’s take a look:

Green Bay Packers 2021 schedule

Week 1: Sep. 12 at New Orleans Saints 4:25 PM FOX
Week 2: Sep. 20 Detroit Lions (Mon) 8:15 PM ESPN
Week 3: Sep. 26 at San Francisco 49ers 8:20 PM NBC
Week 4: Oct. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers 4:25 PM CBS
Week 5: Oct. 10 at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 PM FOX
Week 6: Oct. 17 at Chicago Bears 1:00 PM FOX
Week 7: Oct. 24 Washington Football Team 1:00 PM FOX
Week 8: Oct. 28 at Arizona Cardinals (Thu) 8:20 PM FOX/NFLN/Amazon**
Week 9: Nov. 7 at Kansas City Chiefs 4:25 PM FOX
Week 10: Nov. 14 Seattle Seahawks 4:25 PM CBS
Week 11: Nov. 21 at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM FOX
Week 12: Nov. 28 Los Angeles Rams 4:25 PM FOX
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: Dec. 12 Chicago Bears 8:20 PM NBC*
Week 15: Dec. 19 at Baltimore Ravens 1:00 PM FOX
Week 16: Dec. 25 Cleveland Browns 4:30 PM FOX/NFLN/Amazon**
Week 17: Jan. 2 Minnesota Vikings 8:20 PM NBC*
Week 18: Jan. 9 at Detroit Lions 1:00 PM FOX

* - Sunday night games in Weeks 5-17 subject to change; Week 18 game TBD
**NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change

The Packers have a pretty brutal path to the 2021 postseason, especially now that the League expanded to 17 games. The Pack will have to face 8 teams who were in the playoffs from last season. Not mentioned in that group are the 49ers, Bengals and Cardinals. The Niners should be much tougher after their offseason, plus the Bengals and Cards have two promising young QBs in Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray that will lead dynamic offenses. You can see in the Strength of Schedule breakdown that last year these teams struggled but the win totals are all up for 2021.

Strength of schedule

Super Bowl odds: 17th
2021 win totals: 12th
2020 records: 29th

Who are some other QBs the Packers (and maybe Rodgers) will have to face? Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson — three MVP candidates. If the reigning NFL MVP decides to stick around with the Packers, if his goal is to make it back to the playoffs, things aren’t going to be easy on him. Might this influence Rodgers’ and the Packers in potential trade talks? It’s clear Green Bay wants to keep A-Rod. Whether or not the two parties can find common ground is still to be seen.

You’d think Rodgers being the gamer that he is wouldn’t take into account the schedule when deciding whether to stay or not. Is Rodgers were to go to, say, the Denver Broncos, their road is even tougher than the Packers due to the AFC West. Playing the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers twice is much tougher than the Lion, Vikings and Bears. Overall, Denver’s strength of schedule is more brutal than Green Bay’s. Things are just as tough if Rodgers went home to Cali and played for the Niners, whose 2021 opponents win totals ranks first overall.

If we’re looking at some key matchups IF A-Rod stays in Green Bay, the first one you gotta circle is that Week 3 primetime matchup vs. San Fran on the road. We know the 49ers were trying to see if the Pack would pull the trigger on a trade before the draft, which didn’t formulate. The Packers-Chiefs “Super Bowl that could have been” game is another highlight in Week 9, which will probably be FOX’s Game of the Week. Packers-Seahawks is always worth watching unless it’s the playoffs and you’re a Packers fan like me.

In the event that Rodgers’ ends up being traded, it will be interesting to see how it impacts the win total over/under line for the Packers. You’d think if the team has to start Jordan Love — or God forbid Blake Bortles — that this type of schedule won’t be as easy to navigate. Love would be thrown into the fire having to play road games at New Orleans, San Fran, Kansas City and Baltimore.

We don’t know if WR1 Davante Adams would be around as well. A Packers team led by Love without Rodgers (and maybe even Adams), would maybe have a win total over/under of around 5.5 or 6.5. The books won’t give much credit to coach Matt LaFleur. They’ll say it was all Rodgers (which is probably was). This is a QB league and Rodgers is the best.

The Broncos’ win total may be more interesting right now. It’s set at 8.5 on DKSB and plus-money on the under at +123. If Denver doesn’t get Rodgers, the Broncos schedule is pretty brutal. Can Teddy Bridgewater hang with Mahomes and Justin Herbert? Anyway, back to the Packers.

If Rodgers stays and it’s business as usual, then the Packers’ win total is likely set around 10.5 or 11.5. Books may set it higher but it could still be risky depending on how the season starts for GB. The difficult games early on could put the Packers in an early bind and may upset Rodgers to the point he asks for a trade again.

If Rodgers is gone and it’s Love at QB, like I said above, probably in the 5.5 or 6.5 range for the Packers win total. Unproven QB and a shaky, aging defense that hasn’t really look elite since 2010. The run game is still there with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The line should be able to keep Love at least upright. You’d start off somewhat optimistic? Right??