Packers will face the NFL's (supposed) toughest schedule in 2018

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Packers don’t have the defending Super Bowl champs on their schedule in 2018, but they still will face the toughest schedule in the league based on their opponents’ 2017 records.

The Packers’ 2018 opponents had a combined winning percentage of .539 last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that ranks as slightly tougher than those of the Lions and Saints, whose opponent winning percentage last season was .535.

By that measure, the Texans have the easiest schedule. Their 2018 opponents had a combined winning percentage of just .453. The full team-by-team strength of schedule list can be found here.

The Packers will play at the Super Bowl-losing Patriots but do not have the champion Eagles on their schedule. Had the Patriots won Super Bowl LII, the Packers would have been a candidate to play in the NFL’s annual season-opening game hosted by the defending champions, on a Thursday night in Week 1.

Six of the Packers' 16 games will come against playoff teams: the Vikings (twice), Bills, Falcons, Rams and Patriots. Three of those are on the road: at Minnesota, Los Angeles and New England.

The Packers also will face a potential team on the rise in the 49ers, who won their final five games after Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback to finish 6-10.

As they say in investment commercials, past performance doesn’t guarantee future success, so what might look like a difficult game in February might be a cakewalk in November, and vice versa. Going into 2017, the Packers' opponents had a combined .480 winning percentage the previous year; but those opponents went 138-118 (a .539 winning percentage) during the season.

And of course, the Packers should be better than their 7-9 record last season, as long as quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t miss nine games again because of a broken collarbone.

The toughest thing about a schedule might be where and when the games are played, and although the opponents were all set in stone as soon as the 2017 season ended, the actual schedules won’t be announced until April.

As a reminder, the Packers’ 2018 opponents can be found here.