The NFL released the 2011 Pre-Season schedule Monday, a nice diversion from the drone of collective bargaining agreement negotiations, union decertifications, lawsuit filings and legal proceedings. The exhibition slate, not to mention the regular season schedule coming out in the next couple of weeks is contingent upon a new CBA of course. If a deal is reached, here's how the Packers will get ready to defend the Super Bowl XLV championship. Three of the four opponents are the same as last year, beginning with a pre-season opener against the Browns. This time it will be in Cleveland on the second weekend of August, between the 11th and 15th. The Packers lost to the Browns last summer at Lambeau 27-24. The first home game will follow against the Arizona Cardinals between August 18-22. It will be the annual Midwest Shrine Game for the "Gold" Package season ticket holders. The only game with a firm date is in week three as the Packers travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to play Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on August 26. Last year at Lambeau, the Pack piled it on the Colts 59-24. This will be the game where starters will get the most significant playing time and it will be nationally televised by CBS. The Pack will wrap up the pre-season with the annual Bishop Charities game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau on September 1 or 2. Green Bay closed out last year's pre-season with a 17-14 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams will kickoff the pre-season with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on August 7. The Regular Season Kickoff Game is played on the Thursday night before the opening Sunday and it's expected to feature the Packers at Lambeau Field. The opponent isn't known yet but aside from the NFC North rivals, the Packers will play New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Denver at home. A Packers-Saints matchup would be pretty juicy, the last two NFC Super Bowl champs, Tim Tebow and the Broncos might be enticing or even the up and coming Bucs with Josh Freeman. Kinda fun to guess, like I said, it's a lot better than talking about the lockout, now into it's second month.