The Packers start their 2012 regular season with three games on three different days of the week but will face their greatest tests at the end of the year.
Green Bay starts off the season at home on Sept. 9 against the 49ers, a matchup that many expected in the NFC championship game a year ago before the Packers were upset by the Giants in the divisional round. Just five days after that, the Bears come to Lambeau Field for a Thursday-night NFC North battle that will give the winner the upper hand in the division to start the year. The Packers end the stretch on Monday, Sept. 24, when they face their old backup quarterback, Matt Flynn, and the Seahawks.
Games against the high-powered Saints in Week Four and Texans in Week Six highlight the next stretch of the schedule. There’s also a matchup with a pair of No. 1 overall draft choices, Andrew Luck (most likely) of the Colts in Week Five and Sam Bradford’s Rams in Week Seven. Home games vs. the Jaguars and Cardinals lead the Packers into a Week 10 bye.
The toughest part of the schedule comes after the week off. In a five-week stretch, the Packers face the Lions in Detroit, look to get playoff revenge in a rematch with the Giants in the Meadowlands, take on the rival Vikings at home, face the Lions again, and round it out with a trip to Chicago vs. the Bears. The Giants and second Lions games are both on “Sunday Night Football.”
The 2012 season ends with a home game vs. the Titans in Week 16 and a visit to the Metrodome to take on the Vikings again to conclude the regular season.
The way we see it
It’s unlikely head coach Mike McCarthy has too many complaints with this schedule. The two toughest games come at the start of the year and right after the bye week, meaning McCarthy will have ample time to prepare for both. The two Lions games in such a short period of time could be interesting, especially if the game is as chippy as the teams’ Thanksgiving battle a year ago, which is best remembered for Lions DT Ndamukong Suh’s head stomp of Packers OG Evan Dietrich-Smith.