The Green Bay Packers had better be ready to roll when the season begins.
The Packers will begin the season at home against the Seattle Seahawks, according to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky. Then, it's a trek to Atlanta for an NFC Championship Game rematch against the Falcons, according to the Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty.
This could be the schedule:
If that is correct, the Packers will have a few scheduling advantages. First, they will have their mini-bye to get ready for a game at Dallas. Second, they’ll have a Week 8 bye after getting stuck with a Week 4 bye last year. Third, that bye will get them refreshed for a big midseason home game against Detroit.
The Packers-Seahawks rivalry will have a new twist this season with former Packers running back Eddie Lacy expected to be the featured performer in the Seattle backfield.
This will mark the sixth time in six years these teams have played. The first three were in Seattle, with the Seahawks winning the "Fail Mary" game in 2012, a blowout in the 2014 opener and the infamous 2014 NFC Championship Game. This will be the third consecutive year in which the Packers have hosted the Seahawks, with Green Bay winning 27-17 in Week 2 of the 2015 season and 38-10 in Week 13 of last season.
The Packers haven't opened the season at Lambeau Field since 2012, when they lost to San Francisco.
Like last year, Green Bay will be tasked with being the opening opponent in a new stadium. The Packers played at Minnesota in Week 2 of last season, losing 17-14. This time, it will be the Falcons' new stadium. The Vikings were the reigning NFC North championships; the Falcons are the reigning NFC champions.
Another game leaked before tonight's big revealing of the schedule is Green Bay hosting Chicago on "Thursday Night Football" in Week 4. Reported by longtime Chicago radio host Harry Teinowitz, that would be played on Sept. 28. The Packers hosted the Bears on Thursday night last year, too. According to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, the Packers will play at Chicago on Nov. 12.
Along with home-and-away games against the Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, the Packers host Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati and travel to Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Dallas.
Here's a look at the opener. A full 16-game breakdown will be posted when the matchups are official tonight.
HOME: SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Date: Sunday, Sept. 10. Time: TBA. TV: TBA
Last year: 10-5-1 (first place, NFC South. W, 26-6, Detroit in Wild Card; L, 36-20, at Atlanta in Divisional)
This year: The Seahawks averaged 412 points per season from 2012 through 2015. Last year, they scored only 356. It’s a unit too dependent on quarterback Russell Wilson. First and foremost, the offensive line must be fixed. They took a step in that direction by signing Luke Joeckel, the former No. 2 overall pick who bombed in Jacksonville. He’ll be back at left tackle after the Jaguars tried to salvage the pick by moving him to left guard last year. He’ll replace George Fant, a former college basketball player who didn’t even play on the line in college. Seattle also added a power runner by signing former Packers star Eddie Lacy. Seattle used 11 running backs last season. “We always want to be a physical, committed, aggressive run team,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Coming off of last year where we were unable to capture that, he just kind of popped at the right time.” Seattle remains a defensive powerhouse. Even without safety Earl Thomas for most of last season, Seattle ranked third in points allowed with 292. That, remarkably, was the first time it even allowed 300 points since 2011. The future of cornerback Richard Sherman will determine the draft direction.