Easily one of the most anticipated days of the off-season is the release of the 2014 NFL schedule. Well, it's out and it will be a test right from the start for the three time defending NFC North champs. After winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers got to host the opening night game on Thursday of week one and now they'll take part in the lid lifter on the road, against the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks on September 4. CenturyLink Field, the 12th man, echos of the "Fail Mary" from their last trip there, it should be a rager for NBC.
It's one of five prime time dates for the Pack although as was the case last year, that's subject to flex scheduling change. Games can now be flexed beginning in week five and the NFL is also allowing cross flexing between FOX and CBS to make sure the most attractive games each week get the biggest audience.
Now to the rest of the 2014 slate. For only the second time in franchise history, the Packers play three of their first four on the road, the only other time that happened was way back in 1922. The New York Jets will be the home opening opponent on Sunday, September 14 in a 3:25 PM kickoff. Then it's three straight black and blue affairs, at Detroit on the 21st, at Chicago on the 28th, both at noon, and then home to the Minnesota Vikigns on Thursday night, October 2. Before the mid-season bye, the Packers will travel to Miami on November 12, return home to face Carolina on the 19th and another prime time show in the Big Easy against the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday night, October 26.
Coming off the bye, the Packers will have four of their next five at Lambeau, beginning with the Bears on Sunday night, November 9 at 7:30 PM. The Philadelphia Eagles arrive the following week before a trip to Minnesota to play outside against the Vikings for the first time since the Met fell apart in Bloomington in 1981.The Vikes will be at TCF Bank Stadium on the U of Minnesota campus for the next couple of years.
That'll be it for NFC games until the season finale, as Green Bay will host New England on the Sunday afternoon following Thanksgiving at 3:25 PM, Altanta in a Monday nighter on the tundra December 8, a shuffle off to Buffalo on December 14, a pre-christmas taste of warmth in Tampa Bay on the 21st and the Detroit Lions bring down the curtain at Lambeau on December 28.
If the Packers survive the opening month gauntlet and continue to play well within the division, which will have new coaches in Minnesota and Detroit, the favorable home field home stretch could have them staring down a 6th straight trip to the post-season but it's only April, you gotta play the games. Can't wait.