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Green Bay Packers schedule analysis

4/19/2011

Breakdown: The Packers would have four prime-time games, including three on NBC's Sunday Night Football and one on ESPN's Monday night Football, along with a fifth national time slot against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. Further, five other games are scheduled for the late-afternoon Sunday time slot. They will be the first team in NFL history to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. In other words, they would have a schedule commensurate with a Super Bowl champion.

The most difficult portion without a doubt: Three games in 11 days, starting with a Monday night game in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings, continuing in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and concluding with the Thanksgiving Day game in Week 12. In an interview posted on the Packers' website, coach Mike McCarthy called that stretch a "stress point" in the season.

Complaint department: It's true that the Sept. 8 opener against the New Orleans Saints would feature the past two Super Bowl champions. And there's no arguing the teams would field two of the more star-studded and high-powered offenses in the NFL. But I still think a Packers-Chicago Bears matchup would have been a more interesting and meaningful game, both regionally and nationally.

When and if this game gets played, it will mark the NFL's first chance to move on after the lockout. Why not pit the two oldest rivals in league history? There would probably be more points scored in a Packers-Saints game, but I don't think it would match the potential for pre-game hype and casual fan interest than a rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game. The Jay Cutler angle alone would have drawn people in.

And from a divisional race standpoint, it would actually be interesting to have either the Packers or Bears start the season 0-1. Nothing drives interest like early season panic. As it is, the Packers would take the field with this bit of history: Since the NFL began this scheduling format, the defending Super Bowl champions are 7-0 in their season-opening home games.

The endgame: The Packers would play three of their final four games at home, including a Week 16 Christmas Day game against the Bears. Mix in a Week 13 game at the New York Giants and a Week 15 game at the Kansas City Chiefs, and the final five weeks of the schedule could be in cold-weather conditions. "I think that is awesome," McCarthy said.

Packers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Thursday, Sep. 8, New Orleans, 8:30 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, at Carolina, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, at Chicago, 4:15 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, Denver, 4:15 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, at Atlanta, 8:20 PM

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, St. Louis, 1:00 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23, at Minnesota, 4:15 PM

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, at San Diego, 4:15 PM

Week 10: Monday, Nov. 14, Minnesota, 8:30 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 24, at Detroit, 12:30 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, at NY Giants, 4:15 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, Oakland, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 25, Chicago, 8:20 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, Detroit, 1:00 PM