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Packers NFL Schedule Reaction: Bizarre home/road splits, early bye highlight 2016

Green Bay's schedule for the upcoming season has its fair share of puzzling trends.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Just recently, the NFL officially released the regular season schedule for the 2016 season for all 32 teams. The Green Bay Packers' schedule includes the team facing its usual NFC North rivals two times each, along with the NFC East, AFC South, Seattle Seahawks, and Atlanta Falcons.

One thing that pops out quickly for the Packers is their very early bye week, which happens in week four. That could be something to keep in mind when the season starts as the team plays 13 straight games to end the season. That certainly does not appear to be optimal for the team in the stretch run. Also, the combined record (using 2015's regular season records) for all of the teams the Packers play is 117-139, which is a .457 winning percentage. But let's start breaking down this schedule even further.


Jacksonville Jaguars (Away), 1:00PM EST
Minnesota Vikings (Away), 8:30PM EST [SNF]
Detroit Lions (Home), 1:00PM EST

To start off the season, the Packers have two away games, an unusual start to the season. First up, the Packers draw the Jacksonville Jaguars on the opening weekend. The Jaguars finished 5-11 last season, but have made several big splashes this off-season. They signed Chris Ivory, Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamura, and also get their 3rd overall pick from last year back in Dante Fowler. The Jaguars could be on their way to being much better than their 5-11 record from last year. They're not a Super Bowl contender yet, but definitely appear to be a team on the rise. Then the Packers travel to Minnesota in a NFC North rivalry showdown on Sunday Night Football. The teams split their season series last year with a win a piece. This will be a real test for the Packers, who lost the NFC North crown to the Vikings last season. This also will be the first home game for the Vikings at the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Packers' first home game will take place week three against another NFC North opponent in the Detroit Lions. Both teams secured wins on the road in their season series last season. The Lions finished in 3rd place in the division and will be without one notable face: Calvin Johnson. Arguably one of the best wide receivers of his generation, Johnson retired this off-season and the Lions will be without their most dynamic weapon. It will be interesting to see how Detroit fares against the Packers in this hotly-contested match-up. And as mentioned before, the Packers have a very early bye week this season, coming in week four. How the team be able to adjust when they have to finish out the season playing 13 straight games?


New York Giants (Home), 8:30PM EST [SNF]
Dallas Cowboys (Home), 4:25PM EST
Chicago Bears (Home), 8:25PM EST [TNF]
Atlanta Falcons (Away), 1:00PM EST

Coming off the bye week, the Packers are immediately thrust into another prime-time game, this time against the New York Giants. Coming off a 6-10 season, the Giants will have new head coach Ben McAdoo, a former Packers assistant, to deal with this time as long-time head coach Tom Coughlin did not return to the sidelines for the team. With the Packers coming off a bye week and playing at home, it could be a good week for Pack. Then it's straight into another home game the next week, the Packers then face another NFC East team in the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys, who struggled last season as they had to endure injuries from Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, finished 4-12. But with both presumably healthy heading into this game, the Cowboys could prove to be a worthy opponent if at full strength.

The Packers have a staggering fourth straight home game in week 7, but this one comes on a short week as they face their NFC North rivals, the Chicago Bears. The Bears had an interesting off-season, which included parting ways with Matt Forte (Jets) and Martellus Bennett (Patriots), while signing Jerrell Freeman, Akiem Hicks, and Danny Trevathan along with finally getting their 1st round pick from last year, Kevin White, on the field. Chicago could be a team on the rise and not one to count on playing at the 6-10 level they were last season. The Packers then leave Green Bay after a month at home to head south into Atlanta to face the Falcons in week eight. The Falcons started off red-hot last season with five straight wins to open up the season, but finished the season with three wins and eight losses. Coming off that kind of season, the Falcons could be motivated to not make the same mistakes as they did last season. This will definitely be an interesting match-up.

WEEKS 9-12

Indianapolis Colts (Home), 4:25PM EST
Tennessee Titans (Away), 1:00PM EST
Washington Redskins (Away), 8:30PM EST [SNF]
Philadelphia Eagles (Away), 8:30PM EST [MNF]

In a late afternoon game, the Packers face Indianapolis at home in week nine. The Colts did not make the playoffs last season after finishing 8-8 while dealing with the absence of their starting quarterback Andrew Luck due to multiple injuries. The team decided to keep both head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson in somewhat of a surprise after it was widely reported and expected that Pagano would not be returning to the team. With Luck presumably healthy again, the Colts are a threat to have a bounce-back year and this could be a duel of top quarterbacks in the league in this match-up. The Packers then travel to meet Marcus Mariota and the Titans in Tennessee. After a disappointing 3-13 season, the Titans traded for DeMarco Murray while replacing Ken Whisenhunt with Mike Mularkey. And with the Titans having plenty of early round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft after trading their #1 overall pick to the Rams, the team could look a lot different than they did in 2015. That being said, the Titans are still very much a rebuilding team.

In the second of three straight away games and the first of two straight prime-time games, the Packers travel to Washington to face the reigning NFC East champions on Sunday Night Football. With Washington coming off an impressive 9-7 season and Kirk Cousins behind center, the Redskins could definitely prove to be a tough opponent for the Packers in Washington, though the Packers were victorious there last January in the Wild Card round. Then, the Packers fly out to Philadelphia in a Monday Night Football match-up against the Eagles. With Doug Pederson taking over the head coaching job after the firing of Chip Kelly, this could be a completely different Eagles squad we see in 2016. With the ever turbulent NFC East, any team could be the "top dog" in 2016, and the Eagles could be that team.

WEEKS 13-17

Houston Texans (Home), 1:00PM EST
Seattle Seahawks (Home), 4:25PM EST
Chicago Bears (Away), 1:00PM EST
Minnesota Vikings (Home), 1:00PM EST
Detroit Lions (Away), 1:00PM EST

After three straight weeks on the road, the Packers finally go back home to Lambeau Field to play the reigning AFC West champions, the Houston Texans. Coming into this season with a new quarterback in Brock Osweiler and running back in Lamar Miller to add to superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans could be an offensive force in 2016. With a well-coached Bill O'Brien squad, the Texans could be a team that takes another step forward in 2016 and be even better than this past season. This has the makings of a very entertaining game. The Seahawks then come into town in a match-up of NFC contenders. The Seahawks made the playoffs last season behind the terrific play of Russell Wilson and their ever-dangerous defense. Seattle will be without their star running back Marshawn Lynch though, as he retired this off-season. Always a dangerous opponent no matter where and when you play them, this could easily be "game of the week" in the NFL.

Oddly enough, the Packers fly to Chicago to face the Bears in the first of three straight NFC North games. As stated before, this Bears squad could easily out-perform their 6-10 record in 2016 with some new additions on defense. This could be a very trying end of the season for the Packers. Green Bay then flies back home to face the Vikings in their 2nd match-up of the season. Minnesota is the reigning NFC North champions and could prove to be a force in 2016 as well with Adrian Peterson leading the way. Don't be surprised if this game is moved to a prime-time slot if they are close in the standings. And lastly, the Packers fly to Detroit to face the Lions in the regular season finale. At the end of a grueling end of season stretch (13 straight games), this may not be as easy of a match-up as Packers fans want to believe. Green Bay just got by the Lions in their 2015 match-up in Detroit 27-23 and could prove to be a challenging end-of-season battle. Again, don't be surprised if this game is flexed out if it has play-off implications attached to it. Closing out the season with three straight NFC North should make for a tense end to the season.

Overall Impressions

With a very early bye week this season, the Packers' weird stretches of home and away games (four straight home from week three through seven and three straight away from week 10 to 12), and five prime-time games in 2016, this could be a very challenging season for the Packers. At the very least, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Packers can return to the top of the NFC North, as they have been so used to in years past. Buckle up Packers fans -we have a bumpy 2016 ahead of us.