Sun, 20 Jun 2021

Midseason road swing, late bye present challenges for Green Bay Wes Hodkiewicz

GREEN BAY - The Packers' 2021 schedule is here and with it comes another full serving of five primetime games, including back-to-back late-night matchups against Detroit and San Francisco in Weeks 2-3.

After kicking off the season in New Orleans on Sept. 12, the Packers will return home to Lambeau Field to host the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football on Sept. 20. It's the 29th straight year Green Bay will appear on Monday Night Football.

The Packers also are scheduled to face the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football on Oct. 28, with a pair of late-season Sunday Night Football tilts against Chicago on Dec. 12 and Minnesota on Jan. 2.

"That's a good thing for us. That means we're doing some good things," said Head Coach Matt LaFleur of the team's five primetime games. "We just have to make sure we're doing everything in our power from all offseason into training camp, making sure we're ready to play come Week 1."

The home opener against Detroit is one of just two NFC North encounters the Packers have in the first 10 weeks of the season (at Chicago, on Oct. 17).

Six days later, Green Bay travels to face the 49ers for the third straight regular season in primetime. The only other time San Francisco has hosted the Packers in three consecutive regular seasons, with any trips to Green Bay in-between, came from 1950-52, the 49ers' first three seasons in the NFL.

A return to Lambeau against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4 will provide a brief reprieve from travel before the Packers embark on a lengthy road swing, in which Green Bay will play just once at home over a span of five weeks.

That lone home game - an Oct. 24 matchup against the Washington Football Team - is currently the only noon home game on the Packers' schedule.

The Packers travel to Cincinnati and Chicago in Weeks 5-6 before heading back on the road to face the Cardinals in Week 8 and Kansas City in a 3:25 p.m. CT tilt in Week 9.

The good news for Green Bay is those are the only two instances where the Packers play consecutive road games this season, with the team leaving the Midwest just once (at Baltimore on Dec. 19) during the final two months of the regular season.

The Packers return to Lambeau in Week 10 against Seattle before a road matchup with the Minnesota Vikings and a home game against the Los Angeles Rams bring Green Bay into its Week 13 bye during the first week of December.

The Packers return home on Sunday Night Football against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 12, continuing the arch-rivals' 16-year streak of facing one another in primetime action.

After flying to Baltimore, the Packers host the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day at Lambeau Field. It's the first time Green Bay has played on Christmas since a 35-21 win over the Bears in 2011.

The Packers close the year with back-to-back division games - a Sunday Night Football home meeting with the Vikings in Week 17 and the regular-season finale against Detroit, the fifth time in the last six years Green Bay has wrapped up the regular-season slate against the Lions.

Sunday night games in Weeks 5-17 are subject to flex scheduling, while the Week 18 SNF game won't be determined until Week 17.

Bye, bye, bye: The Packers were one of two teams to receive a Week 13 bye, the latest the NFL issues open weeks to its clubs.

It's the latest Green Bay has had a bye since the league reintroduced bye weeks in 1990, meaning the Packers will play the months of September, October and November without a siesta.

"Every year has new challenges," LaFleur said. "There's so much that changes throughout the course of a season. There's different variables, whether who's available and who you're going up against. I think the main thing we have to do is focus on ourselves and make sure our preparation is on point."

Final push: The fate of the NFC North could come down to the Packers facing division foes in four of their last seven regular-season contests, including both encounters with the Vikings.

The last time Green Bay faced its division four times over the final seven games was in 2015. Due to the late-season layout, the Packers will twice go a full month without facing a division opponent during the first 10 weeks of the season.

I love gooooooooold: This year's Gold Package games include the Packers' Week 4 meeting with Pittsburgh, their Week 12 game against the Los Angeles Rams and an Aug. 21 preseason contest against the New York Jets.

Family ties: Father and son will be pitted against each other in Week 15 when Amari Rodgers and the Packers face off with the Ravens and Tee Martin. Martin is entering his first year as Baltimore's receivers coach, while Rodgers was Green Bay's third-round pick in last month's NFL Draft.

See the Packers' full 2021 schedule

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