When the NFL announced the Green Bay Packers’ 2020 schedule back in May, one game was conspicuously missing a firm date and time. The Packers’ week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers was given a flexible time slot, to be played on either Saturday, December 19th or Sunday, December 20th.
Now, with that game a little less than a month away, the NFL has made its decision, and the two teams will kick off on Saturday night. On Tuesday afternoon, the league officially announced that the game will begin at 7:15 PM Central Time on the 19th.
If the NFL makes no other changes to the Packers’ schedule, this means that three of their final six games will come on prime time. Green Bay is also scheduled to have two Sunday Night Football games down the stretch, hosting the Chicago Bears in week 12 and the Tennessee Titans in week 16. The Packers are also scheduled to host the Philadelphia Eagles in week 13 in the late afternoon time slot (3:25 PM CT kickoff), meaning that their only two early kickoffs will be for their two remaining road games: at Detroit and at Chicago.
The last time the Packers played on a Saturday was in week 16 of the 2017 season. In that game, without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers dropped a 16-0 decision to the Minnesota Vikings on December 23rd. Rodgers and company had defeated the Vikings in the same stadium on Saturday afternoon one year before, winning 38-25 on Christmas Eve 2016. Carolina’s last Saturday game was also in 2016, when they lost to the Atlanta Falcons on Christmas Eve.
The Packers and Panthers have played in prime time twice in their 16-game head-to-head history, with both games coming on Monday Night Football. Both of those contests took place with Mike Sherman as the Packers’ head coach; Green Bay lost 31-14 in 2000 and 32-29 in 2005.