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GREEN BAY—The Green Bay Packers are beginning 2013 in the same place the 2012 season bitterly ended, and against the same team that beat them to start last year.
The Packers will open 2013 at San Francisco on Sunday, Sept. 8, in a 3:25 p.m. CT contest, one of many notable details of the regular-season schedule that was released by the NFL on Thursday.
"Opening day is always exciting," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Playing the San Francisco 49ers is obviously a challenge that we look forward to."
The 49ers defeated Green Bay in the season opener last year at Lambeau Field and then beat the Packers again last January in San Francisco in the NFC Divisional playoff, 45-31, rolling up a league playoff-record 579 yards of total offense in the process.
San Francisco went on to win the conference title and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, losing to the Baltimore Ravens.
Those defending-champion Ravens will host the Packers on Sunday, Oct. 13, two weeks after a Week 4 bye that is the earliest the league schedules byes. The Packers haven't had the bye in Week 4 since 1999.
Interestingly, the Packers have no back-to-back road games on the schedule, a first for the franchise since joining the NFL in 1921.
"I like it," McCarthy said. "It gives you a chance to get into a routine of playing at home and then on the road, to get into a flow. Winning on the road is so important."
For the fourth time under McCarthy, the Packers will travel to Detroit for the early Thanksgiving game (Thursday, Nov. 28, 11:30 a.m. CT). Green Bay has won its three previous Thanksgiving trips to Detroit under McCarthy, in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
"It's an incredible tradition, playing on Thanksgiving Day," McCarthy said. "It's a blessing for everyone involved. We're fortunate enough to still be home in time to share in the importance of the day."
The Thanksgiving game ends a stretch of six weeks in which the Packers play four NFC North opponents. Unlike last year, when the Packers played five of their six division games over the final seven weeks, this year the division contests are clustered more in the middle of the schedule (Weeks 8-13), beginning with consecutive prime-time games at Minnesota (Sunday, Oct. 27) and at home vs. Chicago (Monday, Nov. 4).
"That kind of surprised me because of the emphasis on the division games at the end of the year (last year)," McCarthy said. "I was anticipating the same."
The Bears game is the only Monday night appearance in 2013.
Following Thanksgiving, the Packers will have 10 days before their next game, a prime-time showdown at home vs. Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 8.
"That will serve as a second bye week for us, which you appreciate with the early bye we have in Week 4," McCarthy said.
The Packers will play four prime-time games in all – the three previously mentioned, plus one at the New York Giants on Sunday, Nov. 17. The Atlanta and New York prime-time slots are subject to flexible scheduling, but the Packers haven't been flexed out of a prime-time spot since the advent of that scheduling mechanism.
The last scheduled prime-timer, vs. Atlanta, begins a final month that includes a trip to Dallas, where the Packers last played in Super Bowl XLV, and a home game vs. Pittsburgh, the opponent in that Super Bowl.
As mandated by the league, the Packers will end the regular season with a division game, at Chicago on Sunday, Dec. 29.
"I think we have a really tough finish on paper with the teams we're playing down the stretch," McCarthy said.
"We've known since the end of the season who we're playing, and now we've found out when we're playing them. Frankly, I've never looked past the first four weeks, and that will be the same as far as how we prepare our team." Related links