By Drew Smith, FOX 11 Sports Director
Green Bay (WI)- The Packers schedule is out, and the schedule makers were alternately kind and cruel to the Packers. Here's a quick analysis of the 2014 schedule, hot off the presses:Pluses:The Packers last year felt they got the short end of the stick with a week four bye, the earliest possible. This year, the Packers have their bye week in week nine, right in the middle of the season. That should keep them fresher for the second half of the season, though in today's NFL, any week is a good week for a bye week. Teams always have someone out who needs healing, but a middle bye week is good to have.The schedule has a nice home stretch in the middle of the season. From week seven to 14, the Packers will play five of seven games (with the bye in there as well) at home. These are tough teams, however, with four of those playoff teams from last year (Carolina, New Orleans, Philadelphia and New England).Minuses:The start of the season will be a tough one for the Packers, with three of the first four on the road, and all in tough venues. Opening against the Seahawks in Seattle is a tall task, then having your first two division games on the road as well, against Detroit and Chicago. They also finish the season with two of three on the road, though their road schedule should be, overall, easier than their home schedule.The Packers have five games schedule for prime time, and Coach Mike McCarthy, while he called it an honor, can't be wild about it. He loves his schedule, and two Thursday, two Sunday night and a Monday game all mess with the way he lays out his week to prepare his team. Players would rather play at noon on Sunday as well, since prime time games mean a day of laying around waiting, making it harder physically to be at peak performance that late in the day.Overall:The front end of the schedule is very challenging, and the Packers will need to try to be at .500 by the bye week, which may be a tough task. Packers fans, do not lose heart if they are below the break even mark at the bye! They do have a chance to make up some ground in the second half of the season with just three road games, though two of their home games are against playoff teams.Prediction:Invariably, two teams which look like pushovers from last year will be vastly improved, and two tough teams will fall apart, so predictions are always a little bit of a shot in the dark. However, I see the Packers starting slowly, but picking up steam as the year goes on, and posting a 10-6 record. Will that be enough to make the playoffs? If they can get 5 of those wins in the division, it should be.Packers SchedulePRESEASONSat, Aug. 9..........at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (Packers network)Sat. Aug. 16.........at St. Louis, 3 p.m. (Packers network)Fri., Aug. 22........Oakland, 7 p.m. (CBS)Thur., Aug. 28.......Kansas City, 6 p.m. (Packers network)REGULAR SEASONThur., Sept. 4.......at Seattle, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)Sun., Sept. 14.......New York Jets, 3:25 p.m. (CBS)Sun., Sept. 21.......at Detroit, 12 p.m. (FOX 11)Sun., Sept. 28.......at Chicago, 12 p.m. (FOX 11)Thur., Oct. 2........Minnesota, 7:25 p.m. (NFLN)Sun., Oct. 12........at Miami, 12 p.m. (FOX)Sun., Oct. 19........Carolina, 12 p.m. (FOX)Sun., Oct. 26........at New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)Sun., Nov. 2.........ByeSun., Nov. 9.........Chicago, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)Sun., Nov. 16.........Philadelphia (Gold pkg), 12 p.m. (FOX)Sun., Nov. 23.........at Tampa Bay, 12 p.m. (FOX)Sun., Nov. 30.........New England, 3:25 p.m. (CBS)Mon., Dec. 8.........Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)Sun., Dec. 14........at Buffalo, 12 p.m., (FOX)Sun., Dec. 21........at Minnesota, 12 p.m. (FOX)Sun., Dec. 28........Detroit, 12 p.m. (FOX)* Start time may shift due to NFL flexible scheduling, which will be used in Weeks 11-17 this season.It may also be applied in Weeks 5-10, but can be used in no more than two weeks during that period.+ For the first time, a select number of games are being "cross-flexed" by the NFL, moving betweenCBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.
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