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Will the Packers Continue Their Prime Time Run in 2018?

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Will the Packers Continue Their Prime Time Run in 2018?

Looking ahead at the Packers 2018 opponents raises questions about how the NFL schedulers will handle their overall season layout.  I look forward to the schedule being released every year to be able to lay my eyes on how the season will unfold and see the quirks that the schedule makers throw at the Packers on their journey for the upcoming season.  Perhaps no group of people in the NFL have a harder job than the four executives that get to piece together a 16 game schedule for 32 teams while working around other events in the metropolitan areas that call NFL teams home.  Throw in bye weeks for each team and sticking to the scheduling formula each season, the schedulers have a daunting task each season.

The one thing that I always look for first when the schedules are released is how many prime time games the Packers will be playing in the upcoming season.  In recent years, the Packers have found themselves playing in a large share of prime time games that include the 3:25 pm CST time slot and any night games.  The past three seasons break down as follows for scheduling of games:


  • Noon CST – Six games scheduled (Five games played)
  • 3:25 pm CST – Five games scheduled
  • Night games – Five games scheduled (Six games played)


  • Noon CST – Eight games scheduled (Six games played)
  • 3:25 pm CST – Three games scheduled (Four games played)
  • Night games – Five games scheduled (Six games played)


  • Noon CST – Eight games scheduled
  • 3:25 pm CST – Three games scheduled
  • Night games – Five games scheduled

It’s quite obvious that the schedule makers have a penchant for putting the Packers in the national spotlight with over half of their games being scheduled in prime spots at both the 3 pm and night slots.  With the Packers being perennial contenders in the NFC and having a national following, the networks definitely get the benefit of higher ratings when the Packers are playing in the prime time slots.  Add that to the fact that Aaron Rodgers alone draws a large following nationally by himself.

When looking ahead to the 2018 home and away opponents, a fun exercise is to try and predict which games may fall in the prime time slots for the networks.  Beginning with the NFC North opponents, the schedulers usually schedule at least two games at night.  The past three seasons have featured a night rivalry game with the Chicago Bears, with the last two seasons being a Thursday night matchup.  Throw in a night game with either the Minnesota Viking or Detroit Lions and that usually makes two guaranteed night games on the season.

Next, the west coast games need to be taken into consideration.  With a divisional matchup with the NFC West in 2018, the Packers will travel for games in Los Angeles with the Rams and to Seattle for a matchup with the Seahawks.  Those two games alone are guaranteed to be in at least the 3 pm CST time slots and the case can be made for one or both to be scheduled as night games.

Last, the remaining games on the Packers 2018 schedule feature some premier matchups as well.  Starting with the game in Foxboro against the Patriots, that game almost guarantees a prime time matchup.  As well, the Packers play games against at home against the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, which could be contenders for 3 pm CST times or night games.  The road game against the Washington Redskins could also be a candidate to land in prime time.

In total, I see at a minimum of seven prime time games coming for the 2018 season.  That number could jump to eight or nine as well.  Some naysayers on the scheduling may argue that with a third-place finish in the division last year, coupled with a 7-9 record, the Packers will be playing less prime time matchups in 2018.  But, I’ll argue that a healthy Aaron Rodgers and the Packers being one of the Super Bowl favorites in the upcoming season will find them in plenty of prime time matchups again.

But, some may wonder how the Packers actually fare in their different time slot matchups.  When taking a look at just the last three seasons, the numbers are kind of staggering.  Records in the different time slots since 2015 are as follows:


  • Noon CST games – 11-8 (57.8% win percentage)
  • 3 pm CST games – 8-4 (66.7% win percentage)
  • Night games – 7-8 (46.6% win percentage)

Overall with Rodgers under center

  • Noon CST games – 8-4 (66.7% win percentage)
  • 3 pm CST games – 8-4 (66.7% win percentage)
  • Night games – 7-5 (58.3% win percentage)

Looking at these numbers over three seasons, there was obviously a skew with Brett Hundley under center, but the numbers are worth looking at.  The higher win percentages during the day games may be significant, but the competition faced in games may have some impact on this record too.  Noon games over the past three seasons have definitely come against “easier” opponents whereas the prime time matchups usually come against more marquis opponents.  So, whether fans take notice of the numbers above is really up to interpretation.

So, where do the fans stand on the scheduling of prime time games and night games?  Speaking for myself, my favorite timeslot for the Packers to play is at 3 pm CST.  I like to casually watch the noon games and build excitement for the 3 pm game.  This works perfectly in my household for planning meals for the kids and any potential guests during games.  Noon games are always welcomed and I also enjoy the occasional Sunday night game.  The two time slots I do not care for are Thursday and Monday nights due to work schedules.

To gauge where other fans stand, I polled 40 fans of NFL teams.  These fans consisted of mostly Packer fans with some sprinkled in fans of other teams as well.  Overwhelmingly, 20 preferred the Noon CST time slot and 14 preferred the 3:25 pm CST time slot, making over 75% of fans preferring non-night games.  Four fans gave a vote to Sunday night games and two gave votes to Monday night games.  Several of the fans in my poll gave reasons for their answers.  A few responses for the late afternoon and night games were due to fans wanting time to “saturate” themselves prior to the game…..hey, we are in Wisconsin!  Others gave personal reasons for wanting night games in November for deer hunting purposes….hey, we are in Wisconsin again!

No matter where you or I stand, the fact of the matter is that the NFL schedule makers have a hankering for putting the Packers in prime time games each year.  I will be looking forward to how it will play out when the schedule is released later on this year and until then, we can play the guessing game.


Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

I prefer the early games for the Packers myself, but mostly because WHO is doing the game most of the time when the Packers are playing at 3:25 CST or a night game like SNF or MNF.

I'm not a fan of Aikman probably like many other Packers fan so if the Packers are playing in the later slot against another NFC team there's a good chance we get Aikman and Buck. If it's a SNF game then we're forced to listen to Collinsworth who IMO can ruin a game faster than just about any other announcer out there with his excessive talking! Obviously these are personal reasons and everybody might not feel the same which is fine.

I don't think the 7-9 record will keep the programmers and schedulers from scheduling the Packers to 5 "Night Games" in 2018. They still have Rodgers and their still The Green Bay Packers!

Big Moe's picture

Couldn't agree more on the announcers, I despise Akiman doing Packer games, would love to never hear Joe Buck speak again, and just flat out turn off the volume when Colliinsworthless is doing the play calls.

Savage57's picture

I'll never understand the complaints about announcers. The networks , with all the skin they have in the game via the rights contracts, aren't throwing darts when they choose who'll be their #1 teams for prime time or game of the week.

As an 'out-of-market' guy, I'm just happy I get to see 8 or so games a year with guys like Buck/Aikman or Michaels/Collinsworth calling the action.

The complaints are probably more of a case of some fans wishing they had an announcing team who talked exclusively about the Packers in glowing terms no matter how they're playing, like, oh, I don't know, maybe McCarren and Larrivee?

John Kirk's picture

Wayne and Larry are terrible. I miss Jim and Max. How a guy who used to do Bears games and still has ties to Chicago ever got the Packers gig is beyond me.

I don't like to wait, so I'd rather all games be Nooners but I really don't care that much. A Monday night game feels really foreign nowadays. Would rather they play Thursday than Monday.

Prefer Gus Johnson and Ian Eagle. Don't mind Buck and Aikman. Don't care for Al and Chris. Like Romo for his enthusiasm and understanding but he has a terrible voice for it.

dobber's picture

I've found Romo to be very informative, and he's remarkably good at predicting and pointing out tendencies in-game. His enthusiasm leads him to come off as a bit of a kook at times, but it's still new so it doesn't bother me yet.

dobber's picture

"As an 'out-of-market' guy, I'm just happy I get to see 8 or so games a year with guys like Buck/Aikman or Michaels/Collinsworth calling the action."

Agreed. We live in a Detroit market with a sizable Packer fan base. That means that whenever the Packers don't play at the same time as the Lions, we frequently get that game. Prime time games mean more telecasts for us (and, unfortunately, more really late nights).

Over time I've come to realize that it's not Troy Aikman I dislike (he seems to have a QB crush on ARod) but Joe Buck. He's about as smarmy an SOB as it comes...some commentators can channel that into being somewhat entertaining and charming, but IMO Buck is too full of himself to try.

Johnblood27's picture

My God!

An entire panel of nihilistic narcissists!

That group should be a mandated drone target. One device, so much good to come from it.

Spock's picture

"As an 'out-of-market' guy, I'm just happy I get to see 8 or so games a year with guys like Buck/Aikman or Michaels/Collinsworth calling the action." I couldn't agree more. Living in Tucson I pretty much ONLY got the prime time games. I don't mind Aikman; not sure why people despise him as , if anything, he seems to have a man-crush on Arod, LOL. I wish there was a way to synch the WTMJ or Sirius broadcasts with my tv, but everything I've tried typically gives me the radio a full half a minute to a minute of the radio being ahead of the tv. If it was the other way I'd just stop the tv until it caught up with the broadcast. I've found what best works for me is to start taping the game and leave the tv channel on the game channel. I start watching 30 to 40 minutes into the game and zip thru the commercials. If the game goes past my taping time I zip the live game back to where I lost action and finish watching on the tube. Not for everyone, I'm sure, but works for me. I'd estimate I missed almost half the games last year, especially after Rodgers went down and some of the games were re-scheduled.

Nick Perry's picture

I've never had the opportunity to listen to McCarren and Larrivee myself so I have no idea what it's like to hear an announcer talk in glowing terms about the Packers. About Rodgers yes, about the Packers, not so much.

It doesn't really matter who's playing for me to have issues with Aikman or Collinsworth. Just go back and listen to Collinsworth go on and on and on and on about what a catch is in this last SB. Christ Chris...SHUT UP!!! We get it, you DON'T know what a catch is just like everybody else.

flackcatcher's picture

Nick. WTMJ radio has an internet stream of Packer games live during the season. Wayne and Larry are very, VERY good announcers. They are not 'Homers' in any sense of the word. If the Packers screw up, the officials blow a call, neither one will shy away from pointing that out. They're call the game warts and all, it is very refreshing. Agree on Collinsworth. For all the good points he makes in game play and flow, the man can't stop. No sense of timing at all. Makes one realize how good Al Michaels is.

4thand1's picture

People want to see the Green Bay Packers.

Nick Perry's picture

Hey fellow CHTV readers and staff question....

Yes or No to Josh Sitton?

IMO he's worth a peak if he's not to expensive. I don't care what was said a few years ago when TT was the GM. I think those things that were said were because Ted T WAS the GM. but that's a different discussion.

Yay or Nay??

RCPackerFan's picture

I just saw he was going to be let go. I didn't watch him much when they played, but I wonder how much he has left.
He wouldn't get back his old LG job. He would have to go for the RG job.

Basically the question is Josh Sitton or Jahri Evans for RG?
Also where does McCray fit in there?

Both are nearing their end. They might be better off going with McCray as their RG in all honesty.

John Kirk's picture

Moot. No way he ever comes back here.

Savage57's picture

As nice as it would be to have Sitton back, I don't see it happening. Sitton's skill, utility and experience VS. MM's ego, petulance and stubbornness? I think we all know how that'll turn out.

stockholder's picture

It's a different OL now. Gone are the problems of why he was waived. Sitton shouldn't come back. And TT made a big mistake on his character and play. Billy Price would make everyone forget about Sitton and Lang.

dobber's picture

Sitton wasn't let go for nothing...even TT loves his draft picks enough that giving up a decent comp pick was worth getting rid of Sitton. The unconfirmed rumor I'd heard was that Sitton was at the center of an "ethnic problem" in the clubhouse. I don't know if that's true or not, but he's still going to command more on the open market than the Packers are likely to be willing to pay. I don't see him coming back.


Thegreatreynoldo's picture

No. Too expensive. Also moot, too many bridges burned.

It is peek, not peak.

flackcatcher's picture

Age and injuries ( mostly back) are the real issue for Sitton on the FA market. And it was McCarthy who pulled the pin on Sitton, not TT. Coach's decision. Lets just say he had a real bad attitude, and leave it at that.

Charlu19's picture

Would take him in a heartbeat. He made money in Chicago and I'm sure that dude would love to play with #12 again. Release Cobb and spend that money to fortify the line. I love Cobb, but I value Sitton more.

John Kirk's picture

Nobody cares about the Green Bay Packers...they care about the QB. As long as 12 is here we'll be prime time darlings and SB favorites.

Savage57's picture

Rodgers moves the ratings meter almost as much as Favre did, so the Packers will still be slotted in their usual 4-5 prime time/national games.

EdsLaces's picture

Look at our freaking schedule...many of those games will be in primetime .

Since '61's picture

Aaron Rodgers makes the Packers watchable and viable as prime time viewing. Last season proved how unwatchable the Packers become without Rodgers.

The schedulers are interested in ratings and Rodgers delivers the ratings, which is another reason that he will command the largest contract in NFL history. Given their opponents for 2018 the Packers will probably have 5- 7 prime time games.

NE, Seattle, Atlanta, one Viking game, and SF. The Rams and Redskins will probably be in the 3 PM CST Sunday slot. Then there is the possibility to be flexed into prime time later in the season. Hopefully they will not have any stupid Thursday night games. Beyond that, It doesn’t matter to me when they play as long as they win. Thanks, Since ‘61

flackcatcher's picture

Also, the Packers are one of the biggest draws for teams at home. It is one the main reasons they have not played overseas in London. I was told by an NFL team executive that last year the Packers were supposed to be scheduled for London. But the owners shut that down and told the NFL 'no'. Combo of hard core Packer fans and Aaron Rodgers fills the stadiums, hard to beat that.

Since '61's picture

Flak - filling stadiums is important but the schedule, especially the national TV games, late Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and Monday night, is all about the TV ratings. Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

True, very very true.......

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