Green Bay Packers schedule analysis
Breakdown: The Packers' 2013 schedule has a familiar ring. They open with the San Francisco 49ers for the second consecutive season, a quirk that also affords a rematch with the team that knocked them from the 2012 playoffs. They'll play the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day for the fourth time in seven years. They once again have a prime-time game against the New York Giants and will have four (out of a maximum of five) night games overall.
Two of them will come at home, in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears and Week 14 against the Atlanta Falcons. Their road night games will come at the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8 and at the Giants in Week 11.
It's worth wondering whether the Packers will face quarterback Robert Griffin III or backup Kirk Cousins in their Week 2 game against the Washington Redskins; Griffin is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and isn't a lock to be ready for the start of the season. But perhaps most interesting is that the Packers won't play back-to-back road games, the first time that has happened in team history. By definition, that makes it a balanced schedule.
Complaint department: I guess I know why the NFL prefers divisional matchups on Thanksgiving Day -- television ratings and attendance -- but this Packers-Lions thing is getting comical. The Packers will have played in this game six times in 13 seasons: 2001, '03, '07, '09, '11 and now '13. Thursday games are a scramble to prepare for, and it would be fair to spread the wealth a bit more evenly.
579: According to coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers have made that number their offseason mantra. It refers, of course, to the total yards their defense gave up to the 49ers in a divisional-round playoff loss three months ago at Candlestick Park. The Packers sent their defensive staff to Texas A&M this spring for a coaching clinic as part of an organization-wide effort to respond to the debacle, and we're expecting that push to continue through the draft. The timing of this game means the "579" story will carry nicely -- and eventually ad nauseam -- through training camp and the preseason.
Packers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Cleveland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m.
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 4, Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28, at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Atlanta, 8:30 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Chicago, 1 p.m.