After the National Football League announced the 2003 regular-season schedule Thursday, Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman looked at Green Bay's slate from two sides.
"I think for the fan, it's a great schedule," he said. "For a coach and a player, it's quite challenging."
Like any year, the Packers' 2003 schedule has its good points.
The Packers get back-to-back home games to start the year, get to host division-winners Philadelphia and San Francisco at Lambeau Field and get enjoy their bye weekend toward the middle of the season, where it's arguably most valuable.
But 2003 also is daunting.
There's September, when the Packers have to face three division rivals in four weeks, and when their only reprieve from the NFC North is a trip to Arizona for a toasty afternoon kickoff with the Cardinals.
There's November, when the Packers must play Minnesota and Tampa Bay on the road, and when the Eagles and 49ers are hardly gimmes at home.
And there's December, when the Packers must make back-to-back trips to the West Coast, first to face San Diego, then to take on Oakland.
Of equally poor luck, the Packers' home games that month are against Chicago and Denver -- two opponents from cold-weather climates that probably won't be intimidated by Green Bay's winter temps.
All put together, the road that the Packers hope will take them to the Super Bowl has some icy spots. But that doesn't mean they'll be hesitant to follow it.
"I worry more about the opponents, than when we play them," Sherman said. "There are some challenges here, but I look at it as a challenge (to try and meet) and we'll respond that way ...
"I think the most challenging part of the schedule is the fact that we play all the divisional opponents within the first four weeks of the season ... You're kind of making your bed early in the season. It doesn't mean you can't come back (after a poor start), but it's going to be important to have success early."
They'll also have to prove the ability to adjust.
With 11 Sunday afternoon games, three on Monday nights, one on Sunday night and one on Thursday, the Packers' schedule is hardly cookie-cutter.
As a result, while some of the team's weekly preparation will mirror previous seasons, the schedule might force certain changes.
For either or both of the Packers' trips west, Sherman said he would consider traveling his team two days before the game, rather than one, to give them more time to recuperate from a lengthy plane ride.
That's something he said he considered last year with the Packers' trips to San Francisco and Tampa Bay.
"If it's a later game, it's not a big factor, particularly when you're going (west)," Sherman said. "When you're coming (east) and losing time, it's more of a problem. But we'll look at it and study it and make a good decision whether we need to go out two days (before the game)."
Sherman is also drafting his plan for the preseason, in which the Packers will play five games.
Sherman said he hasn't determined when and how much he will play his starters in the preseason, but he hopes the extra game will boost the Packers' readiness for that crucial September lineup of divisional foes.
The 16-game schedule might not have been dealt entirely to Sherman's liking, but it's a hand he's willing to play.
"I don't worry a lot about it," Sherman said. "The schedule-makers make the schedule. It is what it is ...
"You have to go play the game where they tell you to play it."
On Mike Holmgren's return to Green Bay with the Seattle Seahawks: "I think it's always a big deal when you go against someone that you have so much respect for, you've learned from and he's kind of brought you up through the ropes. That will have a special feeling."
On if he was surprised that the Tampa Bay game wasn't picked for prime-time TV: "I'm kind of glad that it's right where it is. I wish we were playing them at home, but obviously that's not the case. They had one heck of a season, and that's always been a tough game for us down there. That's as big a challenge as there is."
On Chicago and Denver as the Packers' home opponents in December: "I would prefer to have all home games in December against all those teams south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but that didn't pan out this year."