Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Packers 2009 Schedule Released

It's finally here, Packers fans: the release of the 2009 Packers schedule.

Here are the details (all times Central Time):
1 Sun. Sep. 13 vs. Bears 7:20 PM - NBC
2 Sun. Sep. 20 vs. Bengals 12:00 PM - CBS (Gold Package)
3 Sun. Sep. 27 at Rams 12:00 PM - Fox
4 Mon. Oct. 05 at Vikings 7:30 PM - ESPN
5 Sun. Oct. 11 BYE
6 Sun. Oct. 18 vs. Lions 12:00 PM - Fox
7 Sun. Oct. 25 at Browns 12:00 PM - Fox
8 Sun. Nov. 01 vs. Vikings 12:00 PM - Fox
9 Sun. Nov. 08 at Buccaneers 12:00 PM - Fox
10 Sun. Nov. 15 vs. Cowboys 3:15 PM - Fox (Gold Package)
11 Sun. Nov. 22 vs. 49ers 12:00 PM - Fox
12 Thu. Nov. 26 at Lions 11:30 AM - Fox
13 Mon. Dec. 07 vs. Ravens 7:30 PM - ESPN
14 Sun. Dec. 13 at Bears 12:00 PM - Fox
15 Sun. Dec. 20 at Steelers 12:00 PM - Fox
16 Sun. Dec. 27 vs. Seahawks 12:00 PM - Fox
17 Sun. Jan. 03 at Cardinals 2:15 PM - Fox

The Packers, despite the 6-10 record of last year, are obviously still a major TV draw nationally. The Pack helps open the first weekend of the season with a Sunday night game at Lambeau vs. Da Bearz. Then there are two Monday night games, Oct. 5 at the ViQueens, and Dec. 7 vs. the Ravens at Lambeau. And sandwiched inbetween -- maybe turkey sandwich would be the appropriate description -- is the Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions in Detroit.

In looking at the schedule, we can make a few initial observations. (And if you'd care to voice your opinion, feel free to do so any time through the end of April in our poll in the column to the right.)

The Packers will have played all their divisional games by the end of Week 14, and will be done with both games against the ViQueens by Week 8. Just as Da Bearz are the first divisional opponent the Pack faces to kick off the season on opening weekend, they are also the last divisional opponent in week 14.

The scheduling gods gave the Packers no 3-game stretches either home or away; there are two sets of two games back to back at home and two sets of games back to back on the road, with the rest alternating home and away. Not bad. Also not bad is the fact that the hot weather Arizona Cardinals are scheduled for the last away game of the season, Jan. 3. Road trip, anyone???

The short week because of the Thanksgiving Day game begins with the 49ers at Lambeau on Nov. 22 and then the Lions on the 26th. That seems to be as good as an arrangement and team pairings as could be hoped for. Add into that the fact that then the Packers have the long stretch afterward to prepare for a Monday night home again vs. the Ravens on Dec. 7. Again, not bad. If it couldn't be the Cowboys the Ravens aren't a bad second choice for that slot, all things considered.

The bye week we would have preferred to come a bit later: week 5 hits a bit early. But it does come after the first Monday night game vs. the 'Queens. So with a quarter of the season completed, including two divisional games, that may be a good point to evaluate and tweak things.

Anyway...more to follow in terms of analysis, etc. as things sink in and we get a chance to look at things a bit more closely.

A word about the "Gold Package" reference
For those not familiar with the "Gold Package" reference in the schedule, that's a Packers-only designation: it refers to former Milwaukee season ticket holders. Once upon a time, the Pack used to play some of their games at the old County Stadium in Milwaukee. When the Brewers baseball team decided to build their new ballpark (a great one, btw!), the Packers decided to take the opportunity to cut those ties and move all games back to Green Bay. The only problem, of course, was that you had this extremely loyal and dedicated fan base who had purchased season tickets in Milwaukee for years and years. The Packers wisely decided they didn't want to tick off those fans. So, they came up with a solution -- of sorts -- called, appropriately, the Green and Gold Packages.

The Green Package was for those fans who already had season tix in Green Bay. They would not lose any of the games they would have already gotten under the old system; in fact, they probably picked up a game on their season tickets. The Gold Package was for those fans who held Milwaukee season tickets. Rather than have them come away empty-handed and disgruntled, the Pack kept them in the fold -- but it's not like they would go anywhere else anyway, right? -- by giving them two regular games at Lambeau each season, along with a preseason game. Not bad. And in looking at the schedule this season, well...getting Cleveland as the preseason game (and the first game at that) and Cincinnati as one of the two regular season games isn't the greatest. On the other hand, a bit of that is made up for with the second regular season Gold Package game: the Cowboys as the main afternoon game on Sunday, Nov. 15. I think a lot of Gold Package ticket holders will forgive those other two scheduling/ticketing choices just for the chance to see home state boy, Dallas QB Tony Romo, lose in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. Sorry, Tony. You may be home town...but the Packers are our home team.