The Packers will face a playoff nemesis in each of the first two weeks of 2017.
Green Bay will begin the regular season at home against Seattle in Week 1 and travel to Atlanta to open the Falcons’ new stadium in Week 2, a powerhouse start to the season in the schedule the NFL released on Thursday.
The Seahawks and Falcons are the teams who beat the Packers in their two most recent appearances in the NFC title game, in the 2014 and 2016 playoffs.
The opener vs. Seattle is slated for Sept. 10 at 3:25 p.m. CT on FOX, while Week 2 in Atlanta will be Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the first regular-season game in new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Packers opened a new stadium on SNF in Week 2 last year as well, at Minnesota.
The Week 2 new stadium visit is one of several similarities between Green Bay’s 2016 schedule and its new one.
The Packers once again have an early-season Thursday night home game vs. archrival Chicago, this time in Week 4 (Sept. 28), and they’re slated for just one Monday night appearance, also at home vs. Detroit in Week 9 (Nov. 6).
This will be the third straight season the Packers will host the Bears on a Thursday night, including the Thanksgiving game in 2015.
For the second straight year, Green Bay also will finish the regular season with a holiday-time home game vs. the Vikings in Week 16 (Saturday, Dec. 23, at 7:30 p.m.) and a trip to Detroit in Week 17 (Dec. 31).
In all, the Packers have five prime-time games, a total that could change based on flex scheduling. Last year, Green Bay ended up with six when the Week 17 game at Detroit for the NFC North title was flexed to prime time.
There are plenty of differences compared to last year’s schedule as well, though.
For one, the bye week is much closer to the middle of the season, in Week 8, the last weekend in October, a full month later than last year.
Also, the Packers have no stretches of more than two straight games either home or away, after a 2016 schedule that included four straight home games (with the bye week mixed in) during the first half of the year and three consecutive road trips to begin the second half.
Other noteworthy tidbits:
• The NFC Divisional playoff rematch at Dallas will be in Week 5 (Oct. 8) at 3:25 p.m. on FOX.
• The Packers do not play on Thanksgiving, the first odd-numbered year in the Mike McCarthy era Green Bay is not on Thanksgiving.
• Three of the Packers’ four games against AFC North opponents will take place in a four-week stretch from Weeks 11-14, including a Sunday night game at Pittsburgh in Week 12 (Nov. 26). That will mark the first Packers-Steelers prime-time game since 1998.
• Among NFC foes, New Orleans visits Lambeau Field in Week 7 (Oct. 22) for the first time since Week 1 of 2011, the kickoff opener following the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV triumph. Tampa Bay comes to Green Bay in Week 13 (Dec. 3), also for the first time since 2011.
Most importantly, now we can plan out the next nine months!