Tim Fuller/USA TODAY

Green Bay Packers Schedule: Grueling Start, Midseason Bye and Five in Prime Time

The NFL schedule that was released on Thursday lacks the oddities of last year's schedule. But, like last year, the regular season ends with games against Minnesota and Detroit.

First, the schedule. Then, scroll down to the story below.

WEEKOPPONENTDATETIMETV
Week 1 Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 10. 3:25 p.m. Fox
Week 2 at Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Sept. 17 7:30 p.m. NBC
Week 3 Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Sept. 24 3:25 p.m. CBS
Week 4 Chicago Bears Thursday, Sept. 28 7:25 p.m. NFLN/CBS
Week 5 at Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Oct. 8 3:25 p.m. Fox
Week 6 at Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Oct. 15 noon Fox
Week 7 New Orleans Saints Sunday, Oct. 22 noon Fox
Week 8 BYE
Week 9 Detroit Lions Monday, Nov. 6 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Week 10 at Chicago Bears Sunday, Nov. 12 noon Fox
Week 11 Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Nov. 19 noon CBS
Week 12 at Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Nov. 26 7:30 p.m. NBC
Week 13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 3 noon. Fox
Week 14 at Cleveland Browns Sunday, Dec. 10 noon Fox
Week 15 at Carolina Panthers Sunday, Dec. 17 noon Fox
Week 16 Minnesota Vikings Saturday, Dec. 23 7:30 p.m. NBC  
Week 17 at Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 31 noon Fox

For the first time since 2013, the Green Bay Packers will open the season with back-to-back games against teams that qualified for the playoffs the year before.

The Packers will open the 2017 season with a home game against the Seattle Seahawks, then hit the road to play the defending NFC-champion Atlanta Falcons. The start is similar to 2013, when the Packers opened at San Francisco, which had reached the Super Bowl the year before, and hosted Washington, which had won the NFC East.

Green Bay is opening a season at Lambeau Field for the first time since 2012, but that makes the start to the season no less daunting. The Packers, a picture of stability over the years, lost six players who started last year’s opening game and three others who were key contributors. If general manager Ted Thompson is rebuilding on the fly, then a revamped lineup is going to have to come out flying.

— Seattle has qualified for the playoffs five consecutive seasons. It has arguably the top defense of the era and a familiar face at running back in Eddie Lacy.

— Atlanta beat Green Bay twice last year, including a 44-21 blowout in the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons will be opening their new 71,000-seat, $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

A LOOK AT ALL OF THE OPPONENTS (MEMBERS)

According to the league, only the Packers and Giants open the season with back-to-back games against playoff teams.

— Cincinnati, the Week 3 opponent, had a five-year playoff streak snapped last season.

On the other hand:

— The Packers host the Bears on Thursday night in Week 4, meaning they get their mini-bye week to get ready for a Week 5 showdown at Dallas that could having big-time seeding implications.

— The bye comes in Week 8 — a big improvement over last year’s Week 4. On Twitter, Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix commented on the midseason bye, “Lord, thank you for answering all my prayers, even the small ones.”

— After the bye, the Packers host Detroit in a key midseason showdown between the teams who finished first and second in the NFC North last season.

— Packers coach Mike McCarthy should be pleased with the structure of the schedule. Last year, Green Bay finished the preseason with two road games, then opened the regular season with two more road games. Then, sandwiching that Week 4 bye, the Packers played four consecutive home games. Later, they played three consecutive road games. This year, the Packers never play more than two consecutive road games or home games.

Some other highlights:

— Green Bay has five prime-time games: at Atlanta in Week 2 (Sunday night), home against Chicago in Week 4 (Thursday night), home against Detroit in Week 9 (Monday night), at Pittsburgh in Week 12 (Sunday night) and home against Minnesota in Week 16 (Saturday night).

— The Packers are playing the AFC North teams for the first time since 2013. They host Cincinnati in Week 3 and Baltimore in Week 11 and play at Pittsburgh in Week 12 and Cleveland in Week 14.

— Going back to that Week 4 game against Chicago, the series is knotted 93-93-6. The Packers haven’t led the series since owning a 11-10-4 edge in 1933. This also marks the third consecutive season in which Green Bay has hosted Chicago on a Thursday night.

— Three of the four December games are on the road — a blow to Green Bay. In December home games with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers haven't lost since 2008. This year's stretch starts with games at Cleveland and Carolina. Then, just like last year, the season ends with a Week 16 home game against Minnesota and a Week 17 game at Detroit.

Preseason finalized: Dates and times have been set for the preseason: Week 1, Philadelphia, Thursday, Aug. 10, 7 p.m.; Week 2, at Washington, Saturday, Aug. 19, 6:30 p.m.; Week 3, at Denver, Saturday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m.; Week 4, Thursday, Aug. 31, L.A. Rams, 6 p.m.

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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