Thirteen consecutive games on Sundays after starting Sunday-Thursday-Monday.
The first three-game road trip since 1998.
Those are the noteworthy things on the Green Bay Packers' 2012 schedule, which was announced by the league on Tuesday night.
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The schedule is dripping with intrigue from the get-go.
Green Bay kicks off the season against San Francisco, a battle of the NFC's two best regular-season teams from 2011. Under coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers are 4-1 when opening the season at Lambeau Field. Only the Packers and Patriots have won five straight season-opening games.
From there, it's a short turnaround to host rival Chicago on Thursday night.
"Just like everybody at this time of the year, we are excited when the schedule comes out," McCarthy said in quotes distributed by the team. "It's always great to play at home. Your home opener is always special, and to start the season at home will be great for our football team, our organization and our fans. We have an excellent opponent in the San Francisco 49ers, and I think it is a great way to start the season for both teams.
"Then we go right into a short week, which is a challenge. I think it is definitely going to be a test for our football team from a preparation standpoint. But our guys are up to the challenge. We're a mature football team, and any
In Week 4, the Packers host the Saints. The teams ranked one-two in the league in scoring last season, with Green Bay opening last year with a heart-stopping 42-34 victory in the league's season-opening game.
The Packers play at Indianapolis, Houston and St. Louis — their first three-game trek since losing at Pittsburgh, winning at the Giants and losing at Minnesota in November 1998. The Indianapolis game presumably will be against No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck. The Houston game is the first of three games on NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
"I don't really get too caught up in who we play and where we play them," McCarthy said. "I focus more on how many days there are between games, the time of games. That's really my focus from a scheduling standpoint. We have known since the season ended who we are going to play. Who, what time, how much time we have to prepare is really the key. As far as playing three on the road, I don't look at that as an extraordinary challenge. It is always challenging, period, when you go on the road. We just happen to have three of them in a row."
The Packers return home for games against Jacksonville and Arizona before getting a Week 10 bye.
"I think it gives you a chance to regroup and get ready for the stretch run," McCarthy said of the late bye.
From there, it's back-to-back road games against the Lions and Giants, with the New York game on "SNF."
Green Bay closes with three of its final five games at home and four of its final five games against NFC North foes.
"That's unusual," McCarthy said of a schedule that's back-loaded with division games. "That's something that we'll look at from a planning standpoint because division games are obviously the most important. There is more planning and preparation that goes into those games from the offseason up until the point that you play them, and those games take a lot out of you physically. Those are all the variables that we will look at."
December begins at Lambeau Field against Minnesota and on Sunday night against Detroit before a trek to Chicago. The Packers host Tennessee before going to Minnesota to end the season.
The Packers have finished the season with an NFC North game in each of the last five seasons — winning them all.
Potentially, the Packers will play five dome games: Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Houston, though the Colts and Titans have retractable-roof facilities. Green Bay is 13-5 in dome games since McCarthy took over in 2006, the NFL's best mark.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.