The NFL released the 2016 schedule on Thursday and the Green Bay Packers once again found themselves in the prime time spotlight. Looking at the Pack’s schedule, the team finds itself in five prime time games.
The Packers will play in three Sunday night games, one Monday night game and one Thursday night game.
Getting five prime time games is nothing new for the Packers in their recent history. In four of the past five years, from 2011 through 2015, Green Bay also had five prime time games.
From 2006 through 2010, the Packers also had four prime time games in each of those seasons.
So, why are the Packers on so often in prime time? One reason is the success of the Packers on the football field.
Since the marriage of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy was consummated in 2006, the team has gone 104-55-1 in that period (.653 winning percentage) and have won five NFC North titles. The Packers have also been to the postseason eight times in McCarthy’s ten years in Green Bay, which includes seven straight times now.
The Packers have been 8-7 in the postseason during that time, which includes three appearances in the NFC title game and one Super Bowl win.
It doesn’t hurt that the Packers also have one of best players in the NFL on their team. I’m speaking of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has won two NFL MVP awards and is the highest-rated passer in the history of the NFL.
Rodgers was also the MVP of Super Bowl XLV when the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Before there was Rodgers at quarterback, there was Brett Favre.
It was general manager Ron Wolf who acquired Favre in a trade in 1992. Shortly before that trade, he hired Mike Holmgren to become his head coach. Those two decisions by Wolf, along with the signing of free agent Reggie White, made the Packers into a Super Bowl contender.
The Packers were 75-37 in the Holmgren era (1992-1998) and won three NFC Central titles. In the postseason, the team was 9-5, won two NFC titles and also Super Bowl XXXI.
During that era, Favre won three straight NFL MVP awards in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
It started slowly, as the Packers were on just once in prime time in 1992 (Sunday night football), but once the NFL knew that the Packers would become a force, the prime time games were put on the schedule in abundance starting in 1993.
From 1993 through 1995, the Packers were on prime time three times. From 1996 through 1998, the Packers were on prime time four times each season.
Even after Holmgren left the team, and the team was coached by Ray Rhodes for one season and Mike Sherman for six seasons, the team was still a staple on prime time.
From 1999 through 2005, the Packers played in 26 prime time games. Although the Packers never reached the Super Bowl during that period, the team was 65-47 during the regular season, won three NFC North titles and were in the postseason four times.
If one looks at the period from when the Wolf/Holmgren/Favre era started in 1992 to the present day, the Packers have been in prime time games 91 times. Add in the five times the Packers will be involved in prime time games in 2016, the total is 96.
Think about that for a moment. That’s 96 prime time games in 25 years. That rounds out to about four prime time games each season. That’s an amazing total.
It always wasn’t like that in Titletown.
Monday night football made it’s debut in the NFL in 1970. The Packers, led by quarterback Bart Starr, beat the San Diego Chargers 22-20 on October 12 in San Diego that Monday night in 1970.
Later that season on November 9, the Packers were beaten by the Baltimore Colts 13-10 in Milwaukee in another Monday night game. Starr was injured, so Don Horn started at quarterback for the Packers in that game.
The Packers did not have a lot of good teams from 1970 through 1991. The team only had four winning seasons during that period. Green Bay made the playoffs in just two of those years.
That was a big reason why the Packers were not in many prime time games back then. In fact, the Packers were in just 18 Monday night games during the period from 1970 through 1991.
It’s important to know that the era of NFL football games being played on Sunday night and Thursday night were not played back in that period. Sunday night football started in 1990 and Thursday night football started in 1991.
Still, the Packers went ten years (1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992) without even being on Monday night football.
Since 1993, the Packers have been on Monday night football each and every season. That includes 44 appearances.
Overall, the Packers are 30-31-1 on Monday night football in their history. The Pack loves playing on Sunday night for the most part, as the team is 24-7. The Packers don’t not have as much luck on Thursday night, as the team is 5-6 in those games.
The Thanksgiving Day games used to be an annual tradition for the Packers, as they used to play the Detroit Lions each and every season on that day in Detroit from 1951 through 1963. Vince Lombardi put a stop to that series after the 1963 season.
The Packers were just 1-7 from 1951 through 1958 on Turkey Day. From 1959 through 1963, when Lombardi was head coach, the Packers fared better, as they were 2-2-1.
In the prime time era, the Packers have played on Thanksgiving 11 times and have a 5-6 record. That includes the Thanksgiving night game played versus da Bears last season at Lambeau Field. The Packers couldn’t pull out a victory, even though Favre had his No. 4 jersey retired that night and Starr made an emotional appearance to honor Favre.
Bottom line, the Packers are most definitely a favorite for the programming executives for the various networks that televise the team in prime time. Not only because the team has been so successful, but also because a game with the Packers in it always brings great ratings.
Not only does Packer Nation travel well to road games, but they also watch their beloved Packers in large numbers on television, especially viewing prime time games.