Brett Favre will look to extend his consecutive games streak in 2004.
MON., SEPT. 13 AT CAROLINA (8 P.M., ABC): Green Bay plays in one of four games that highlight the NFL's opening weekend, announced March 29 by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
- This marks the first time Green Bay will open on the road in eight years, and only its second road opener over the last 19 seasons. The last two times the Packers opened away from Wisconsin were Sept. 1, 1996, a 34-3 win at Tampa Bay, and Sept. 8, 1985, a 26-20 loss at New England. Green Bay won Super Bowl XXXI after opening on the road in 1996.
- It is the third time the Packers will open on Monday Night Football. The Packers began defense of that Super Bowl XXXI title Sept. 1, 1997, a 38-24 win over Chicago at Lambeau Field. And, on Sept. 17, 1973, Green Bay knocked off Joe Namath's New York Jets at Milwaukee County Stadium, 23-7.
SUN., SEPT. 19 VS. CHICAGO (NOON, FOX): The Packers meet Lovie Smith for the first time as Bears head coach. Smith on Jan. 15 elevated one of sports' richest rivalries to another level, saying his No. 1 goal, ahead of winning the division and Super Bowl, was to beat Green Bay.
- The Packers are 18-2 against Chicago since 1994. On only four occasions in NFL history has a team enjoyed a better stretch against a single opponent:
Miami against Buffalo (1970-79) 20-0-0 (1.000)
Miami against Bal/Ind Colts (1977-87) 19-1-0 (.950)
Washington against Detroit (1956-97) 19-1-0 (.950)
San Francisco against L.A. Rams (1989-98) 19-1-0 (.950)
Cleveland Browns against Chicago Cardinals (*1950-63) 18-2-0 (.900)
Cleveland Browns against Washington (*1958-71) 18-2-0 (.900)
Dallas Cowboys against Philadelphia (*1967-78) 18-2-0 (.900)
Green Bay against Chicago Bears (1994-2003) 18-2-0 (.900)
*-multiple instances in period
- Chicago looks to spoil the Packers' home opener and return a favor Green Bay paid the Bears Sept. 29, 2003, in Soldier Field's rededication game. This marks the first time the Bears have kicked off Green Bay's home schedule since Sept. 1, 1997, when the Packers began defense of their Super Bowl XXXI title with a 38-24 win on Monday Night Football.
- The Packers have played 18 previous home openers vs. Chicago. The last nine have included some of the most memorable games in team history:
Sept. 29, 1957 - W, 21-17 - First game in Lambeau Field history
Sept. 28, 1958 - L, 34-20 - Bears kick off worst season in GB history (1-10-1)
Sept. 27, 1959 - W, 9-6 - Vince Lombardi's first career game coached
Sept. 25, 1960 - L, 17-14 - Bears score 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points
Sept. 15, 1963 - L, 10-3 - One of Lombardi's two career home losses to the Bears (also 1960)
Sept. 13, 1964 - W, 23-12 - Paul Hornung kicks off '64 season in first game since sitting out 1963 (suspended for gambling)
Sept. 21, 1969 - W, 17-0 - Packers' fourth shutout of Bears during 1960s
Sept. 7, 1980 - W, 12-6 (ot) - Chester Marcol catches deflection of blocked field goal, races 25 yards for overtime TD
Sept. 1, 1997 - W, 38-24 - Season opener, Monday Night Football
- Contrary to some reports, Smith's teams have defeated the Packers only two straight times. Green Bay against Smith during his career as an NFL assistant coach (all Brett Favre starts):
Oct. 19, 2003 - at St. Louis - Defensive Coordinator - L, 34-24
Jan. 20, 2002 - at St. Louis* - Defensive Coordinator - L, 45-17
Dec. 24, 2000 - Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 17-14 (ot)
Nov. 12, 2000 - at Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - L, 20-15
Dec. 26, 1999 - at Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - L, 29-10
Oct. 10, 1999 - Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 26-23
Dec. 7, 1998 - at Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - L, 24-22
Sept. 13, 1998 - Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 23-15
Jan. 4, 1998 - Tampa Bay* - Linebackers Coach - W, 21-7
Dec. 7, 1997 - at Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 17-6
Oct. 5, 1997 - Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 21-16
Oct. 27, 1996 - Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 13-7
Sept. 1, 1996 - at Tampa Bay - Linebackers Coach - W, 34-3
- NFC Divisional playoffs
SUN, SEPT. 26 AT INDIANAPOLIS (3:15, FOX): In a marquee matchup of teams that advanced deep in the 2003 playoffs, Brett Favre meets another premier quarterback, the Colts' Peyton Manning.
- It's the second overall meeting between the quarterbacks (also in 2000), but the first on Manning's home turf. Favre (Kiln, Miss.) and Manning (New Orelans) grew up about an hour apart.
- In Green Bay's last trip to Indianapolis, Nov. 16, 1997, the Colts upset the Packers, 41-38. The Packers and Colts combined to average 8.3 yards per play (110 plays, 908 yards). Favre (363) and his counterpart Paul Justin (340) combined for 703 yards in the air. Green Bay didn't lose another game that year until Super Bowl XXXII.
- Lambeau Field greeted the Colts with 16-degree wind chill in the teams' last meeting, Nov. 19, 2000, a 26-24 Green Bay win. Russell Maryland sacked Manning in the end zone for the game's first points, and Allen Rossum returned a kickoff 92 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that put the game out of reach. Favre (23-for-36, two TDs) played despite sitting out practice with a painful mid-foot sprain, sustained the previous week at Tampa.
- While Manning is on pace to break a handful of Favre's career passing marks, Favre still owns an edge over Manning - and over every passer in NFL history - in one category, average touchdown passes per game:
1.7927 avg.: Brett Favre -- 346 TDs, 193 games, No. 2 all-time rank
1.7400 avg.: Peyton Manning - 167 TDs, 96 games, No. 45 all-time
1,7355 avg.: Dan Marino - 420 TDs, 242 games, No. 1 all-time
1.4813 avg.: Jim Kelly - 237 TDs, 160 games, No. 15 all-time
1.4219 avg.: Joe Montana - 273 TDs, 192 games, No. 7 all-time
1.4033 avg.: Dan Fouts - 254 TDs, 181 games, No. 10 all-time
1.3990 avg.: Warren Moon - 291 TDs, 208 games, No. 5 all-time
1.3902 avg.: Fran Tarkenton - 343 TDs, 246 games, No. 3 all-time
1.3744 avg.: Johnny Unitas - 290 TDs, 211 games, No. 6 all-time
1.3728 avg.: Steve Young - 232 TDs, 169 games, No. 17 all-time
SUN., OCT. 3 VS. N.Y. GIANTS (NOON, FOX): The Giants' make their first trip to Lambeau since Sept. 17, 1995.
- In that contest, a 14-6 Green Bay win, Robert Brooks resurrected the Lambeau Leap, flying into the North bleachers after a 19-yard touchdown reception. LeRoy Butler invented the celebration after a 1993 touchdown, but the move remained dormant until that '95 Giants game. Brooks, who became the Packers' go-to receiver after a neck injury forced Sterling Sharpe into retirement, took the Leap to another level from 1995-98.
- Had the Giants lost to Philadelphia on the season's final weekend in 2002, the Giants would have traveled to Green Bay for a Wild Card playoff game. Instead, New York topped Philly in overtime, 10-7, and Michael Vick and Atlanta upset the Packers one week later, 27-7.
- Including that '95 game, Brett Favre at home against NFC East opponents is 9-2, winning eight of his last nine.
- New Giants coach Tom Coughlin returns to Green Bay, where he was Forrest Gregg's receivers/passing game coach from 1986-87. Coughlin is one of five current head coaches who previously coached in Green Bay. Former Green Bay coaches against the Packers, since 1997.
MON., OCT. 11 VS. TENNESSEE (8 P.M., ABC): Two of the game's toughest quarterbacks square off in the Titans' first Lambeau appearance since becoming the Titans.
- Tennessee visited Green Bay as the Oilers, Dec. 20, 1998, a 30-22 Packers win.
- Favre and the 2003 co-MVP Steve McNair share the same agent, Bus Cook, and the same hometown, Hattiesburg, Miss. The two grew up about 125 miles apart, Favre in Kiln, Miss., and McNair in Mt. Olive, Miss. Even if they were the same age, they never would have played because McNair's high school (Mt. Olive) was smaller than Favre's (Hancock North Central).
- A comparison of the two, since McNair became a full-time starter at the beginning of 1997.
Games Missed: McNair 8, Favre 0
Starts Missed: McNair 9, Favre 0
Winning Percentage: McNair 64-38 (.627), Favre 75-37 (.669)
Playoff Appearances: McNair: 4, Favre 5
Super Bowls: McNair 1, Favre 1
NFL MVPs: McNair 1, Favre 1
2003 Record: McNair 11-5 (.688), Favre 11-7 (.611)
SUN., OCT. 17 AT DETROIT (NOON, FOX): The Packers return to Ford Field hoping to avenge a 22-14 loss last Thanksgiving that threw a curve in their playoff quest.
- In that game, the Lions held Green Bay to 14 points, the Packers' fewest in the series since Sept. 8, 1991, when Detroit beat Green Bay at the Silverdome, 23-14.
- The Packers have scored more points against the Detroit franchise than any opponent (3,024). The Packers in 2003 were believed to be the first team to score 3,000 against a single opponent.
- Before the loss, the Packers had won six straight over Detroit, the longest series winning streak by either team since Detroit won 11 straight from 1949-54.
- Favre could be in line for several milestones. (1) He stands to break Bart Starr's Packers record for career games played, 196. (2) Conceivably, Favre also could reach 31 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, which would put him second in NFL history, surpassing Dan Marino's 30-game streak (Johnny Unitas' holds the mark, 47, one of sports' "untouchable" records). And (3), he needs 1,358 yards passing in 2004 to pass No. 4 Fran Tarkenton (47,003) on the NFL's all-time list.
SUN., OCT. 24 VS. DALLAS (3:15, FOX): Green Bay and Dallas renew a rivalry that built a strong foundation in the 1960s and peaked again in the mid 1990s.
- The Packers meet Bill Parcells for the first time since defeating his Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Green Bay against teams coached by Parcells (2-4):
Jan. 26, 1997 - *vs. New England Patriots - W, 35-21
Oct. 2, 1994 - at New England Patriots - L, 17-16
Dec. 19, 1987 - at N.Y. Giants - L, 20-10
Dec. 20, 1986 - at N.Y. Giants - L, 55-24
Sept. 15, 1985 - N.Y. Giants - W, 23-20
Sept. 26, 1983 - at N.Y. Giants - L, 27-3
- Super Bowl XXXI, at New Orleans
- The game marks just the third Dallas appearance at Lambeau Field since the Dec. 31, 1967, NFL Championship (the Ice Bowl). The teams also met in Green Bay Oct. 8, 1989, and Nov. 23, 1997, both Packers wins.
- Dallas' last Lambeau trip, that '97 contest, featured a wind chill of -4 and 18 m.p.h. winds. The Packers overcame an early deficit, after Deion Sanders returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown, to gain a pivotal, 45-17 win. Dorsey Levens ran for 190 yards, a club record until Ahman Green topped it in 2003, Brett Favre threw four touchdowns and rookie Darren Sharper forced and returned a fumble 34 yards for another score.
- Despite that '97 win, Green Bay has dropped nine of its last 10 meetings with Dallas, including losses in the 1993, '94 and '95 playoffs. Only one of those nine losses, however, was in Wisconsin (1991 in Milwaukee).
SUN., OCT. 31 AT WASHINGTON (NOON, FOX): Just two days before the 2004 Presidential Election, the Packers play their first game in the nation's capital since 1979, their first-ever visit to FedEx Field.
- Ironically, the NFC clubs have met only twice (2001 and 2002 in Green Bay) over the last 15 seasons.
- That Dec. 2, 1979, contest at RFK Stadium featured the return of starting quarterback Lynn Dickey. Dickey broke two bones in his leg during a 1977 game and didn't start again until that '79 Redskins contest.
- Less than four months after the Packers last traveled to Washington, the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets in the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, when Al Michaels called "Do you believe in miracles?" The world 25 years ago, in 1979:
President of United States: Jimmy Carter
Cost of first-class U.S. stamp: 15 cents
NCAA Basketball Championship: Michigan St. (Magic Johnson) d. Indiana St. (Larry Bird)
Wimbledon: Martina Navratilova d. Chris Evert-Lloyd; Bjorn Borg d. R.Tanner
World Series: Pittsburgh d. Baltimore
Oscar, Best Picture: The Deer Hunter
Other Movies: Apocalypse Now, Kramer vs. Kramer
Grammy, Album of the Year: Saturday Night Fever, The Bee Gees
Other events: Three Mile Island nuclear plant crisis, Iranian militants seize U.S. embassy and take hostages, Soviets invade Afghanistan
SUN., NOV. 14 VS. MINNESOTA (3:15, FOX): The Packers haven't lost consecutive home games to Minnesota since 1992-93. The Vikings pierced the Packers, 30-25, last Sept. 7 in the Lambeau Field rededication game.
- The teams have split both their all-time series (42-42-1), and their last 22 meetings (11-11-0).
- In 2003, the home clubs in the series were 0-2. The last time that happened was 1991.
- This marks the Vikings' first shot at the Packers since Arizona's Nathan Poole caught a game-ending touchdown on fourth-and-25, Dec. 28, sending Green Bay to the playoffs. The Packers won seven of their last nine to be in position to win the division.
SUN., NOV. 21 AT HOUSTON (7:30, ESPN): Green Bay meets the Texans for the first time, and makes its first trip to the city since Dec. 13, 1992, a 16-14 win over the Oilers at the Astrodome.
- In that Sunday night contest, the Packers upset Warren Moon's Oilers, 16-14. Chuck Cecil, playing in a short-handed secondary without suspended LeRoy Butler, recorded a significant second-half interception, setting up a field goal. And Bryce Paup recovered a Houston fumble, leading to the Packers' decisive drive: a 10-play, 63-yard touchdown march, orchestrated by 23-year-old Brett Favre.
- The Texans game is a rematch with Dom Capers, the Panthers coach for the 1996 NFC Championship at Green Bay.
- Each of Green Bay's top three wide receivers (Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker) maintain a residence in the Houston area.
- The Texans mark the Packers' 61st NFL opponent, a list that includes 30 defunct franchises. Green Bay's first meeting against each of the NFL's first nine expansion teams.
Nov. 13, 1960 - Dallas Cowboys (1960) - W, 41-7
Oct. 22, 1961 - at Minnesota Vikings (1961) - W, 33-7
Oct. 23, 1966 - Atlanta Falcons (1966) - W, 56-3
Nov. 17, 1968 - New Orleans Saints (1967) - W, 29-7
Oct. 10, 1976 - Seattle Seahawks (1976) - W, 27-20
Oct. 23, 1977 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976) - W, 13-0
Sept. 24, 1995 - at Jacksonville Jaguars (1995) - W, 24-14
Jan. 12, 1997* - Carolina Panthers (1995) - W, 30-13
Dec. 23, 2001 - Cleveland Browns (1999) - W, 30-7
- 1996 NFC championship, first regular-season meeting was Dec. 14, 1997, at Carolina (W, 31-10)
- Green Bay is just 4-11 in 15 previous games at the site of the last Super Bowl played:
Dec. 9, 1967 - L.A. Rams - L, 27-24 - L.A. Coliseum (I)
Dec. 19, 1971 - Miami - L, 27-6 - Orange Bowl (V)
Dec. 17, 1972 - New Orleans - W, 30-20 - Tulane Stadium (VI)
Oct. 21, 1973 - L.A. Rams - L, 24-7 - L.A. Coliseum (VII)
Oct. 28, 1979 - Miami - L, 27-7 - Orange Bowl (XIII)
Dec. 13, 1981 - New Orleans - W, 35-7 - Superdome (XV)
Jan. 2, 1983 - Detroit - L, 27-24 - Silverdome (XVI)
Sept. 30, 1984 - Tampa Bay - L, 30-27 (ot) - Tampa Stadium (XVIII)
Sept. 14, 1986 - New Orleans - L, 24-10 - Superdome (XX)
Oct. 22, 1989 - Miami - L, 23-20 - Joe Robbie S. (XXIII)
Oct. 27, 1991 - Tampa Bay - W, 27-0 - Tampa Stadium (XXV)
Dec. 27, 1992 - Minnesota - L, 27-7 - Metrodome (XXVI)
Oct. 7, 2001 - Tampa Bay - L, 14-10 - Raymond James S. (XXXV)
Sept. 15, 2002 - New Orleans - L, 35-20 - Superdome (XXXVI)
Dec. 14, 2003 - San Diego - W, 38-21 - Qualcomm S. (XXXVII)
Nov. 21, 2004 - Hou. Texans - Reliant S. (XXXVIII)
MON., NOV. 21 VS. ST. LOUIS (8 P.M., ABC): Green Bay gets the Rams on grass for the first time since St. Louis became an offensive force in 1999.
- The Packers won their last Lambeau Field contest with St. Louis, 17-7, Nov. 9, 1997. Favre threw for 306 yards, including a touchdown to Antonio Freeman, and ran for another score.
- St. Louis represents one of two "unknown" opponents (also at Carolina, Sept. 13). On the Packers' schedule, 14 of 16 opponents are set, as part of the league's current schedule rotation (2002-09). But Green Bay didn't know it would host St. Louis until each club finished first in its division last season. Since the NFL launched its current scheduling formula, the Packers are 3-1 in "unknown" games.
- Either a Packers or Rams quarterback has at least tied for the NFC lead in touchdown passes seven of the last nine years (1995-2003).
- Mike Sherman and his Rams counterpart, Mike Martz, enter the 2004 season tied for the second-best record among active coaches (including playoffs):
1) Joe Gibbs (Was) 140-65-0 (.683)
2t) Mike Sherman (GB) 45-24-0 (.652)
2t) Mike Martz (STL) 45-24-0 (.652)
4) Andy Reid (Phi) 56-33-0 (.629)
5) Mike Shanahan (Oak-Den) 106-68-0 (.609)
SUN., DEC. 5, AT PHILADELPHIA (3:15, FOX): The Packers hope to avenge their 2003 Divisional playoff loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
- For the second straight season, the schedule-makers gave Green Bay a chance to erase fresh memories of a disappointing loss. In 2003, the NFL sent the Packers back to Tampa Bay, where they lost a heated 2002 battle, 21-7, in which Warren Sapp blindsided Chad Clifton. The Packers won the 2003 rematch, 20-13.
- Andy Reid and Mike Sherman, former Packers assistants, are the NFL's only two active coaches who have not lost more than two consecutive games since 2000.
- What were the chances that Sherman's decision to punt in the fourth quarter of the Packers' Divisional playoff loss was not the "correct" call? Well, David Dolan, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, using available NFL data estimates the odds of converting a fourth-and-26 play at that time were 1 in 339. Dolan and his colleagues estimate a play like that would occur once every 60 years.
SUN, DEC. 12 VS. DETROIT (NOON, FOX): The Packers look for a 14th consecutive win over Detroit in Wisconsin.
- The streak includes five Lions head coaches: Wayne Fontes (1992-96), Bobby Ross (1997-99), Gary Moeller (2000), Marty Mornhinweg (2001-02) and Steve Mariucci (2003).
- Favre's best home record vs. one opponent (including playoffs, minimum three games):
Detroit: 13-0 (1.000)
Tampa Bay: 11-0 (1.000)
San Francisco: 6-0 (1.000)
StL/LA Rams: 4-1 (.800)
Chicago: 9-3 (.750)
Minnesota: 8-3 (.727)
Philadelphia: 4-2 (.667)
Miami: 2-1 (.667)
Seattle: 2-1 (.667)
Atlanta: 3-2 (.600)
SUN, DEC. 19 VS. JACKSONVILLE (NOON, CBS): Jacksonville makes its first visit to Lambeau Field, including preseason.
- The Packers won the two prior meetings, both at Jacksonville, 24-14 in 1995 and 28-21 in 2001.
- Dec. 19 marks Mike Sherman's 50th birthday.
- For the third consecutive season, the Packers make only one regular-season appearance on CBS. Green Bay has won its last five games on the network, last losing Sept. 3, 2000, at home to the Jets, 20-16.
- The Jaguars make their first trip to Wisconsin in their 10th season. That's the longest stretch in NFL history:
10 - Jacksonville Jaguars (entered NFL 1995), Wis. debut Dec. 19, 2004 (GB)
8 - Houston Oilers (entered NFL 1970), Wis. debut Sept. 25, 1977 (GB)
7 - Chicago Cardinals (entered NFL 1920), Wis. debut Oct. 10, 1926 (GB)
NOTE: Carolina's first regular-season appearance was in fifth season, 1999, after playing at Green Bay in 1996 NFC Championship.
- The Jaguars game marks the sixth time a Florida team has played in Green Bay Dec. 1 or later at Lambeau Field. The previous five contests:
Dec. 2, 1984 - Tampa Bay (33 degrees) - W, 27-14
Dec. 1, 1985 - Tampa Bay (30, heavy snow) - W, 21-0
Dec. 8, 1985 - Miami (23) - L, 34-24
Jan. 4, 1998* - Tampa Bay (28) - W, 21-7
Dec. 24, 2000 - Tampa Bay (15) - W, 17-14 (ot)
- Packers against other notable "warm-weather" teams at Green Bay late in the season:
Dec. 21, 1975 - Atlanta (12 degrees) - W, 22-13
Dec. 14, 1980 - Houston Oilers (20) - L, 22-3
Dec. 20, 1992 - L.A. Rams (8) - W, 28-13
Dec. 31, 1995* - Atlanta (30) - W, 37-20
Jan. 12, 1997* - Carolina (3) - W, 30-13
Dec. 26, 1999 - L.A. Raiders (0) - W, 28-0
Dec. 12, 1999 - Carolina (35) - L, 33-31
Jan. 2, 2000 - Arizona (32) - W, 49-24
MILWAUKEE GAMES: Dec. 2, 1962, vs. L.A. Rams (W, 41-10); Dec. 18, 1994, vs. Atlanta (W, 21-17).
- Coldest games in Jaguars history (1995-2003)::
9 - Dec. 17, 2000 at Cincinnati - L, 17-14
23 - Dec. 23, 2000 at N.Y. Giants - L, 28-25
25 - Dec. 14, 2003 at New England - L, 27-13
26 - Jan. 10, 1999 at N.Y. Jets - L, 34-24
27 - Jan. 12, 1997 at New England* - L, 20-6
29 - Dec. 15, 1997 at Buffalo - W, 20-14
35 - Nov. 19, 2000 at Pittsburgh - W, 34-24
- 1996 AFC Championship
FRI., DEC. 24 AT MINNESOTA (2 P.M., FOX): The Packers haven't won consecutive road games at Minnesota since 1987-88.
- It's Green Bay's first taste of the Metrodome's new FieldTurf, meaning 2004 will mark Green Bay's fewest games on the hard, abrasive AstroTurf since 1971. The Packers play three games on artificial surfaces in 2004, but two (at Minnesota and at Detroit) are on the 21st-century FieldTurf, the same, soft surface that covers fields inside their practice facility, the Don Hutson Center.
- The Packers' on Dec. 24, 1972, played their first playoff game in the post-Lombardi era, losing at Washington, 16-3. Green Bay's four previous regular-season Christmas Eve games (4-0):
Dec. 24, 1989 at Dallas: W, 20-10 (Packers tie Vikings atop NFC Central, but lose tiebreaker, miss playoffs)
Dec. 24, 1994 at Tampa Bay: W, 34-19 (Green Bay clinches playoff berth, leads 28-6 at half)
Dec. 24, 1995 vs. Pittsburgh: W, 24-19 (Packers clinch first NFC Central title since '72; Thigpen drops TD pass)
Dec. 24, 2000 vs. Tampa Bay: W, 17-14 (R.Longwell game-winning FG in OT)
- The Vikings contest also marks the Packers' first Friday game in 55 years. The team has played only two league games on Friday: Sept. 17, 1948, at Boston Yanks (W, 31-0), and Oct. 7, 1949, at New York Bulldogs (W, 19-0).
- The NFL this season scheduled a regular-season contest on a Friday for the first time since 1999. ABC's annual schedule from 1983-86 featured one Friday-night contest on the season's final weekend. While the NFL scattered Friday games throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the league has played only seven Friday tilts since the 1970 merger, including the '70 opener, the first game in the newly merged league:
Sept. 18, 1970 at Los Angleles Rams 34, St. Louis Cardinals 13
Dec. 16, 1983 at Miami 34, New York Jets 14
Dec. 14, 1984 at San Francisco 19, Los Angeles Rams 16
Dec. 20, 1985 Denver 27, at Seattle 24
Dec. 19, 1986 at San Francisco 24, Los Angeles Rams 14
Dec. 31, 1993 Minnesota 14, at Washington 9
Dec. 24, 1999 at New Orleans 31, Dallas 24
SUN., JAN. 2 AT CHICAGO (NOON, FOX):. Sure to add another chapter in one of sports' greatest rivalries, the Packers and Bears will flirt with the winter lakefront weather to close their respective seasons.
- The Packers' recent run against Chicago (20 wins in last 23 meetings) has sent shockwaves through history. Before the run, the Bears led the NFL's richest rivalry by 23 games, 80-57-6. Now, Chicago's lead is only six, 83-77-6. The last time the gap was that close? The end of World War II and the Don Hutson era, 1945, when the Packers trailed 27-20-5. If Green Bay can win both 2004 meetings with Chicago, the Packers will be closer than they've been in 64 years, when they trailed 21-17-4 after the 1940 campaign.
- The last time Green Bay led the series? On the heels of its three straight NFL championships, 1932, when the Packers led 11-10-5. Two months after Babe Ruth allegedly called his shot at Wrigley Field in the '32 World Series, the Bears stole from Green Bay a fourth straight title (which at the time was determined by league standings). Chicago barely finished atop the league standings, which unlike today did not count ties. Had the league counted ties in standings, the Packers would have won. The next year, 1933, the NFL began determining its champion with postseason games.
- The Packers have won 10 straight and 11 of their last 12 on the Bears' home turf.