Opening Day is still nearly five months away, but with Wednesday's announcement of the regular season schedule by the NFL, there is much excitement at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
Speaking shortly after the league released the 17-week schedules of all 32 teams Wednesday afternoon, Packers' Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer John Jones said that he was pleased with the hand dealt to the team by the powers that be in New York.
Jones was especially excited about the exposure the Packers will get throughout the season, with more than half of their games (9 of 16) being broadcast on national television. Four of those games will come in prime time, with the Packers playing three times on ABC's Monday Night Football and once more in a Sunday night game on ESPN.
"That's a great compliment to this organization and Lambeau Field, but also to Packer fans all across America," he said. "They watch the Packers on TV whenever we're on and that certainly influences the league in their scheduling, and it builds confidence.
"The league wants the best teams to be shown in the national games, and once again they picked the Packers for a lot of them. We're optimistic; we're excited about it."
He acknowledged that by facing four division champions from 2004 and playing six games against playoff teams from a year ago, the Packers will not have a cake walk to a fourth consecutive NFC North title, but he wouldn't want it any other way.
"It should be a very exciting schedule for the fans and a very challenging schedule for our football team," stated Jones. "Our work is cut out for us on the field, but the Green Bay Packers welcome that. That's part of what we strive for when we win the division. We've got an exciting year ahead of us."
Jones expects the Packers to be ready to go right out of the gate, and is eagerly awaiting Opening Day against division foe Detroit.
"That's a divisional rival and it's a very important game right out of the chute," he said. "We'll also get to play three of our first five at Lambeau after opening on the road, so we have a chance to get off to a good start before our bye week."
He also expects the Green and Gold to be tested by a stretch of road contests in the middle of the schedule.
"In the middle part of the season, we've got five of seven on the road, including the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles and NFC finalist Atlanta Falcons, as well as division rivals Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. So the midpoint of the season is going to be a real challenge for our team, but we were 6-2 on the road last year and we welcome that challenge."
Team President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Harlan was equally impressed with the schedule, and is looking forward to the Christmas Day meeting with the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
"There's obviously going to be a lot of talk about the Christmas game, but I think that's fine," said Harlan. "By four o'clock on Christmas Day, you've opened your presents, you've been to church, you've had your big meal. And I think people are looking for something nice to do on a Christmas afternoon, and with Chicago in town, it's a very appealing match-up."