It’s hard to believe that the Green Bay Packers can have the kind of season they did a year ago and still make it back to the playoffs for an NFL record-tying ninth straight years. Losers of six of their first 10 contests, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company wound up running the table. They won the NFC North with a 10-6 record, then advanced to the NFC title game thanks to victories over the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. But it would all come apart in a lopsided loss to the Super Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Packers will be definitely making another appearance in Atlanta this season.

That’s because since the day after the regular season ended, we knew who each team would be facing. So what does the schedule look like for the defending NFC North champs this season?

Games of note

The one thing that stands out about the Green Bay Packers’ schedule this season is the quality of opponents on the road. Yes, the club will make their usual journeys to Chicago, Detroit (a playoff team in 2016) and Minnesota. But there are also trips to Atlanta for a Sunday night rematch of the NFC Championship Game (Week 2). The Pack also heads to Heinz Field to face the defending AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 12) on a Sunday evening. And while we’re talking about renewing acquaintances, who will ever forget Green Bay’s thrilling 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoffs?

The clubs will once again collide at AT&T Stadium in Week 5. Elsewhere, we expect to be treated to an Aaron Rodgers/Brew Brees shootout when the New Orleans Saints invade Lambeau Field in Week 7. All told, the Packers’ slate has the club playing 10 of its 16 games against teams that finished 2016 with a .500-plus winning percentage.

Tricky stretches

Head coach Mike McCarthy is certainly hoping his team can gain some early momentum. The Green Bay Packers open the season with three of their first four games at Lambeau Field. The club kicks off the year against the always-dangerous Seattle Seahawks. After that playoff rematch with the Falcons, Rodgers and company return home to face the Cincinnati Bengals and the rival Chicago Bears (Thursday night) in the span of 12 days.

After road trips to Dallas and Minnesota, the Packers face the Saints and Detroit Lions in the span of three weeks, with the team’s off-week (Week 8) in between. This also means that Green Bay plays five of its final eight contests on the road. And just as was the case in Week 17 a year ago, the Pack will finish the regular season in the Motor City against the Lions.