Packers' 2006 Slate Features Three Prime-Time Games, 11 Noon Kickoffs

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The Packers' complete 2006 schedule won't be known until 1 p.m. CT Thursday. But, in anticipation of that, packers.com has learned some advance details.

To highlight several important items about the Packers' 2006 schedule in advance of its full release, Green Bay begins the season with three of its first five games at home. The Packers then have their open date in Week 6, which is the earliest it has been for the team since 1999, when it fell in Week 4. After the bye, three of the next four games are on the road. Green Bay later closes out the season with three straight division games, allowing ample opportunity to affect the team's standing within the NFC North in the final month.

There is one bit of good news in this year's schedule for area churches. After playing amidst the Christmas holiday the past two seasons -- Friday, Dec. 24, 2004, at Minnesota and Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005, vs. Chicago -- Green Bay gets its Christmas Week game out of the way early this year by facing the Vikings on Dec. 21. The Packers then do not play until 10 days later, assuredly allowing team members to spend the holiday with their families. Most NFL teams will be playing on Dec. 24 in Week 16 of the '06 season. The Dec. 21 Vikings contest will be Green Bay's first-ever appearance on the NFL Network.

Now known is that the Packers will play three prime-time games, two on the road on ESPN's 'Monday Night Football.' Green Bay travels to Philadelphia for a MNF contest in the season's first month, and later in the year plays at Seattle on a Monday night. Six of Green Bay's eight regular-season home games start at 12 noon CT, and there are 11 total "early" kickoffs over the course of the 16-game season.

For the first time since 2003, Green Bay will open the season at home. Fittingly, in Mike McCarthy's first game as the team's head coach, the Packers square off with long-time rival Chicago. The Packers will have an immediate opportunity to see how they match up against the defending NFC North champions in a 3:15 p.m. game that will be part of the second half of a Fox Sports doubleheader.

Come back to packers.com later today for the full schedule, including a printable version.

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