Breaking down the 2009 schedule

Five teams have new coaches. Five teams hold picks among the top six in the upcoming draft. A funky scheduling quirk. An easy start to the season, followed by three conference finalists in five weeks to end the season. Packer Report's analysis forecasts a final season record of ... well, you'll have to read the story to find out.

WEEK 1: Chicago

Noteworthy: The Packers are 4-0 all-time in prime-time openers, including last year's win over Minnesota. ... Green Bay and Chicago have met in Week 1 20 times — 18 of those games were played in Green Bay. ... Will Green Bay be ready to play Dom Capers' new defense — and will the Bears be ready for what they're going to see? And will Jay Cutler will be comfortable in a new offense?

The winner: Green Bay (1-0).

WEEK 2: Cincinnati

Noteworthy: The Packers play four of their next five games against teams picking in the top six in April's draft. The Bengals hold the sixth pick. ... The teams have split their 10 matchups, but the Packers are 4-0 at Lambeau Field.

The week before: Chicago at Green Bay; Denver at Cincinnati. Advantage: None.

The winner: Green Bay (2-0).

WEEK 3: at St. Louis

Noteworthy: St. Louis has a new coach: ex-Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. This game marks the first of the Packers' five games against new coaches (six, if you count Mike Singletary, who served as the 49ers' interim coach last season). ... The Packers are 2-1 at St. Louis, including a 33-14 romp in 2007.

The week before: Cincinnati at Green Bay; St. Louis at Washington. Advantage: None.

The winner: Green Bay (3-0).

WEEK 4: at Minnesota

Noteworthy: The key will be whether the Packers' 26th-ranked run defense from 2008 will be improved enough to stop Adrian Peterson and the Vikings' fifth-ranked rushing offense. ... This will be the Packers' second game in a dome in as many weeks. The Packers went 1-2 in domes last season. ... Packers coach Mike McCarthy is 5-1 against the Vikes' Brad Childress. ... The Packers haven't spent a Monday night in Minneapolis since 1999.

The week before: Green Bay at St. Louis; San Francisco at Minnesota. Advantage: None.

The winner: Minnesota (3-1).

WEEK 5: Bye

Noteworthy: This is the Packers' earliest bye since 1999. On the plus side, they're not faced with a short week coming off of a Monday night road game.

WEEK 6: Detroit

Noteworthy: The Packers are 9-4 following their last 13 byes and 2-1 under McCarthy, including an overtime loss at Tennessee last year. ... Detroit has lost in its last 18 treks to Wisconsin. ... At least the Lions, under new coach Jim Schwartz, avoided a sixth consecutive December trip to Green Bay.

The week before: Packers had bye; Pittsburgh at Detroit. Advantage: Green Bay.

The winner: Green Bay (4-1).

WEEK 7: at Cleveland

Noteworthy: This marks Green Bay's first game in Cleveland since 1995. ... This will be a "rematch" of their Aug. 15 preseason game. ... For the second consecutive week, the Packers will be facing a team that met Pittsburgh the week before. Plus, this is the second straight game against a team with a new coach (Eric Mangini). ... The Packers are 1-1 against the "new" Browns, including a 26-24 loss in their last meeting in 2005.

The week before: Detroit at Green Bay; Cleveland at Pittsburgh. Advantage: Green Bay.

The winner: Cleveland (4-2).

WEEK 8: Minnesota

Noteworthy: This marks the third consecutive week the Packers will face a team that met Pittsburgh the week before. ... Green Bay has won four of the last five meetings with Minnesota at Lambeau Field, including three straight.

The week before: Green Bay at Cleveland; Minnesota at Pittsburgh. Advantage: Green Bay.

The winner: Green Bay (5-2).

WEEK 9: at Tampa Bay

Noteworthy: The Packers play at Tampa Bay for the second consecutive year. Last year, the Packers lost after Aaron Rodgers hurt his throwing shoulder and subsequently threw a key interception. ... The Buccaneers are 6-1 in their last seven home games against Green Bay. The Packers' win in 2003 snapped a five-game skid in Tampa. The Bucs are led by new 33-year-old coach Raheem Morris.

The week before: Minnesota at Green Bay; Tampa Bay had bye. Advantage: Tampa Bay.

The winner: Tampa Bay (5-3).

WEEK 10: Dallas


Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is 2-0 against his home-state team.
Gene Puskar/AP Images

Noteworthy: The Cowboys are 11-2 in the teams' last 13 meetings. ... Dallas' win last season marked its first win at Lambeau Field (1-5). ... Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 2-0 against his home-state team. ... Dallas leads the all-time series 16-12 despite dropping the first six matchups. ... Will the release of Terrell Owens be addition by subtraction? Will Jerry Owens be owner/general manager/coach/cheerleading coordinator at this point? We should know by now.

The week before: Green Bay at Tampa Bay; Dallas at Philadelphia. Advantage: Green Bay.

The winner: Dallas (5-4).

WEEK 11: San Francisco

Noteworthy: The Packers have won six straight over the 49ers, including the playoffs. Their last meeting came in 2006, with the Packers winning to start a four-game season-ending win streak. ... Green Bay's last loss at San Francisco came in the infamous January 1999 wild-card game, in which Steve Young hit Terrell Owens for the winning touchdown in the final seconds to end the Mike Holmgren era. ... The 49ers chose Alex Smith over Rodgers for the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.

The week before: Dallas at Green Bay; Chicago at San Francisco (on a Thursday). Advantage: San Francisco.

The winner: Green Bay (6-4).

WEEK 12: at Detroit

Noteworthy: The Packers are 12-18-2 in Thanksgiving Day games, including 6-11-1 at Detroit. But they won 37-26 on Thanksgiving 2007. ... The Packers are 6-2 in their last eight games overall at Detroit. ... Green Bay has a six-game winning streak in the series, including the last four by at least 10 points.

The week before: Green Bay at San Francisco; Cleveland at Detroit. Advantage: Detroit.

The winner: Green Bay (7-4)

WEEK 13: Baltimore

Noteworthy: What's up with this? This marks the fourth time the Packers will face a team that played Pittsburgh the week before. ... The Packers are coming off of a mini-bye week, with a Thursday game followed by a Monday nighter. ... This kicks off the meet of the schedule, with the Ravens one of three conference finalists on the slate to end the season. ... The teams have met just three times, with Green Bay 2-0 at home but getting clobbered at Baltimore in 2005, when Brett Favre was yanked and Rodgers was ineffective.

The week before: Green Bay at Detroit (Thursday); Pittsburgh at Baltimore (Sunday night). Advantage: Green Bay.

The winner: Green Bay (8-4).

WEEK 14: at Chicago

Noteworthy: This marks the sixth consecutive year in which Green Bay visits the Windy City in either December or January. ... This is the final NFC North game of the year. ... Green Bay is 18-18 at Solider Field, helped in large part by Favre's career dominance there.

The week before: Green Bay at Baltimore (Monday); St. Louis at Chicago. Advantage: Chicago.

The winner: Chicago (8-5).

WEEK 15: at Pittsburgh

Noteworthy: The Packers should be well-acquainted with the Steelers. Not only are they familiar with them from studying film of some of their opponents, but much of the revamped defensive coaching staff has Steelers ties. ... The Packers beat reigning Super Bowl champions in 2001 (Baltimore), 2002 (New England) and 2003 (Tampa Bay). ... This will be McCarthy's first regular-season game of his pro coaching career in his hometown.

The week before: Green Bay at Chicago; Pittsburgh at Cleveland (Thursday). Advantage: Pittsburgh.

The winner: Pittsburgh (8-6).

WEEK 16: Seattle

Noteworthy: The Packers are familiar with the Seahawks, going 5-1 against them in the last six years, but this time, Mike Holmgren won't be on the sideline. Jim Mora Jr. is Seattle's new coach. ... One of the Packers' two road wins last season came at Seattle. ... The Packers are 3-1 at Lambeau against Seattle.

The week before: Green Bay at Pittsburgh; Tampa Bay at Seattle. Advantage: None.

The winner: Green Bay (9-6).

WEEK 17: at Arizona

Noteworthy: The Packers haven't visited the desert since 2003, when it was 102 degrees — tied for the hottest game in franchise history (San Diego, 1978). ... The Packers lost that game 20-13 but are 5-1 against the Cardinals in the last 20-plus years. ... The Packers are 14-3-1 since 1955 against the Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals.

The week before: Seattle at Green Bay; St. Louis at Arizona. Advantage: None.

The winner: Green Bay (10-6).


Check out our printable schedule, right here.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport


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