Breakdown: If this is the year the Green Bay Packers break their run of 1-2 starts, then they will either have to win a division road game or beat the Seattle Seahawks -- or perhaps both. The Packers have put themselves in that hole each of the last three seasons, and their first three games -- Week 1 at the Chicago Bears followed by home games against the Seattle Seahawks (a Sunday night game) and the Kansas City Chiefs (on Monday Night Football) -- might make it difficult to avoid that start. But they do have four of their first six at home. The Packers went 8-0 at home last season and had the benefit of playing three of their last five games in the cold weather at Lambeau Field. This year, however, the Packers play just two of their last five at home, and only one of those games is after Dec. 13. It was not a surprise to see five prime-time games, including the first Thanksgiving home game since 1923 against the Bears on the night Brett Favre's retired No. 4 is expected to be unveiled. The bye comes after six games -- two weeks earlier than last year but three weeks later than their Week 3 bye in 2013.
Complaint department: Three games in 12 days including back-to-back Thursday games in the second half of the season, when a team could be fighting injuries, makes for a difficult stretch. Two of them -- at the Minnesota Vikings (Nov. 22) and at the Detroit Lions (Dec. 3) -- are on the road sandwiched around the Thanksgiving game (Nov. 26) against the Bears. In quotes distributed by the team, coach Mike McCarthy called it "a tough stretch going into a short week and coming back on a seven-day week, and they're both division games, too." In fact, that stretch is part of a run of four straight division games, something the Packers haven't faced since 2000. It's also the first time they have played on consecutive Thursdays since 2007. The Packers also probably won't be happy with only two home games after Thanksgiving.
Go West: When Midwest teams or East coast teams have back-to-back West coast games, sometimes their coaches opt to stay on the road rather than coming back between games. McCarthy might consider that with Week 15 and 16 games at the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals, but given how he always stresses the importance of giving his players, coaches and team employees time at home for the holidays, that's unlikely. Christmas falls on the Friday between those two games. Speaking of the West, the Packers play the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in a three-game stretch early in the season. The Packers have lost seven straight games (including playoffs) against those two NFC West powers.
Strength of schedule: 14th, .529
Packers regular-season schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, Seattle, 8:30 p.m.
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 28, Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Denver, 8:30 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Dec. 3, at Detroit, 8:25 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, Minnesota, 1 p.m.