Let's set 'em up and knock 'em down. The 2012 Green Bay Packers schedule looks like this:
Thursday, August 9 @ San Diego. Thursday, August 16 Cleveland at Lambeau. Thursday, August 23 @ Cincinnati. Thursday, August 30 Kansas City at Lambeau.
Sunday, September 9 San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau 3:15 PM on Fox.
Thursday, September 13 Chicago Bears at Lambeau 7:20 on NFL Network.
Monday, September 24 @ Seattle Seahawks 7:30 PM on ESPN.
Sunday, September 30 New Orleans Saints at Lambeau 3:15 PM on Fox.
Sunday, October 7 @ Indianapolis Colts 12:00 PM on Fox.
Sunday, October 14 @ Houston Texans 7:20 PM on NBC.
Sunday, October 21 @ St. Louis Rams 12:00 PM on Fox.
Sunday, October 28 Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau 12:00 PM on CBS.
Sunday, November 4 Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau 12:00 PM on Fox.
Sunday, November 11 BYE WEEK
Sunday, November 18 @ Detroit Lions 12:00 PM on Fox.
Sunday, November 25 @ New York Giants 7:20 PM on NBC.
Sunday, December 2 Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau 12:00 PM on Fox.
Sunday, December 9 Detroit Lions at Lambeau 7:20 PM on NBC.
Sunday, December 16 @ Chicago Bears 12:00 PM on Fox.
Sunday, December 23 Tennessee Titans at Lambeau 12:00 PM on CBS.
Sunday, December @ Minnesota Vikings 12:00 PM on Fox.
This fall's campaign features heavyweights early, it's soft in the middle and it will be black and blue down the stretch. Based on the opponent's records from last year, it's the second easiest schedule in the league, (.469 winning percentage) behind only New England. Green Bay will appear on all five networks with five prime time games, three on the road and two at home. Let's break it down week by week.
Week 1 - San Francisco - The top two seeds in the NFC from a year ago will be the feature doubleheader game on Fox on opening weekend. The celebrated quarterbacks from the 2005 draft, Alex Smith # 1 overall against #24 Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers defense will be a strong lid lifting test.
Week 2 - Chicago - Wow, two games in the first five days. Good thing it's a division rival because there will be basically one practice day to pepare. The NFL Network was awarded 13 Thursday night games in it's new TV deal, up from 8 last year and this will be their season premiere. It should be an electric night at Lambeau.
Week 3 - at Seattle - There's no way Matt Flynn will throw for 480 and 6 touchdowns against the Pack like he did against the Lions in the finale last year which led to his free agent deal with the Seahawks. He still has to beat out Charlie Whitehurst. A tough place to play but a winnable road opener.
Week 4 - New Orleans - The Packers return home to face not the Saints, but the sinners and it comes early in the season when New Orleans will be without Sean Payton, interim coach Joe Vitt, their GM Mickey Loomis and who knows how many defensive players as a result of bounty gate. They may also have a very unhappy Drew Brees, but there's still plenty of firepower, remember last year's 42-34 opener? Mike McCarthy likes to break down the seaon by quarters and the first quarter will be tough but thankfully, three of the four are at home.
Week 5 - at Indianapolis - The post-Peyton Colts should still be a mess, even with Andrew Luck running the show. The last trip to Indy had Manning and Brett Favre light it up for about a thousand yards.
Week 6 - at Houston - This will be a tough game, the Texans coming off their first playoff appearance in franchise history have some talent in Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Matt Shaub.
Week 7 - at St. Louis - Wraps up the first three game road trip in 14 years. New coach Jeff Fisher is without his new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and outside of Stephen Jackson, not much to get worried about.
Week 8 - Jacksonville - The Jags are bottoming out with Mike Mularkey in charge after Jack Del Rio couldn't get it done. Mularkey won't anytime soon either.
Week 9 - Arizona - The Cardinals were close a couple of years ago, reaching the Super Bowl, breaking Packer hearts in that 2010 overtime playoff victory but now, they're only close in the still mediocre NFC West.
Week 10 - BYE - Falls on November 11, I can actually celebrate my wedding anniversary with a great football widow.
Week 11 - at Detroit - McCarthy is good off the bye (5-1), he'll have to be as this has become the annual, circle the calendar game in the Motor City. These two will battle for the division title and round one is at Ford Field, a stern test.
Week 12 - at New York Giants - Prime time payback time from the dreadful showing in the NFC Divisional Round last January when a 15-1 team played like a 1-15 squad with turnovers, drops and hail mary's. Second straight second half trip to MetLife Stadium.
Week 13 - Minnesota - Hard to believe this team won only three times last year and I suspect they'll be looking up from the division basement again when they arrive to open the December drive at Lambeau.
Week 14 - Detroit - Can the Packers start a second, 20 year stretch of not losing to these guys in Wisconsin? It's the only Sunday night show at home this season, for good reason, could well decide the NFC North.
Week 15 - at Chicago - Soldier Field in December...again. Even with free agent additions on offense, the Bears defense continues to age, time's almost up.
Week 16 - Tennessee - Not sure why the Packers struggle with this team, the Titans have won three straight in the series, that should end in the home regular season finale.
Week 17 - at Minnesota - The Packers haven't wrapped up a season in the Metrodome since Lindy Infante won his farewell as coach against Jerry Burns in 1991 and Mike Holmgren was denied a playoff berth in his rookie season by Dennis Green's Vikes in 1992. Based on the failed stadium bill in the Minnesota legislature, could this be the last regular season game ever in the Humpty Dome?
I'm not about to pick a record for 2012 in April but my guess is the Las Vegas books will have the Packers favored for perhaps 14 of the 16 games, at Detroit and at the Giants the exception. A fourth straight, double-digit victory total should be easily attained unless the injury bug bites hard. The Packers are a prime time darling but McCarthy had better have a strong training camp and pre-season to withstand that early onslaught. That 49er game will be here before you know it.