2006 Schedule Offers Chance To Reclaim Lambeau Advantage

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With its frigid conditions and raucous fans, Lambeau Field has the potential to become a significant home-field advantage. The Green Bay Packers, however, slipped last year, going 3-5 at home.

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy wants to return to the days when opponents dreaded going to Lambeau.

"It's very important for us to get the Lambeau advantage back," McCarthy said.

The Packers can recoup that advantage during the very start of the 2006 regular season. They kick it off by hosting the Chicago Bears in Week 1 and the New Orleans Saints in Week 2.

The Packers began playing the Bears in 1921, and the two franchises have played each other more frequently than any other two NFL teams. Starting the season with such a game should energize the fans and players of both organizations.

"The opener is exciting," McCarthy said. "Chicago's obviously a very important game. It's a big rivalry game. History speaks for itself."

In addition to playing the Bears, the Packers are scheduled for three primetime games. They play on two of ESPN's Monday Night Football games -- Green Bay visits the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 2 and Nov. 27, respectively. On Thursday Dec. 21, the Packers host the Minnesota Vikings on the NFL Network, which is televising games for the first time.

McCarthy said the scheduling of these games demonstrates the prominence of the Packers.

"The ability to play at least three national TV games," McCarthy said, "that speaks volumes about our organization. It speaks a lot about our fans."

Another interesting part of the schedule could play out in late November and December. The Packers play five of their last six games against NFC opponents and the last three against the NFC North.

"That's great because you control your own destiny down the stretch," McCarthy said.

Any team, however, can present a difficult matchup if you catch them at the wrong time. So McCarthy does not break down the schedule, predicting wins and losses.

"I kind of learned not to do that," McCarthy said. "It's very important to realize it's not who you play in the NFL -- it's when you play them because parity is obviously very evident in our game."

For the first time, the NFL has instituted flexible scheduling for the last seven games of the season. FOX and CBS can protect five Sunday games, but NBC has the ability to move any of the remaining Sunday contests to replace its currently slated Sunday night games.

"It's a great idea," McCarthy said. "If you're a team that's battling down the wire, you want to be playing on that national stage."

Before the Packers hit the national stage in Week 4, however, they will begin the season by hosting the Bears.

"My goal's to win them all," McCarthy said. "And it starts with Chicago."

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