Tests early, late: Seahawks open at Packers, finish at Dallas, vs. Arizona

RENTON — A tough beginning. A relatively soft-looking middle. A potentially tough ending.

The Seahawks’ 2017 schedule announced Thursday has Seattle opening on the road for the sixth time in seven years. They play the Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay for the third consecutive regular season.

This is the second time these teams have met in a season opener. The other was Sept. 4, 2014, at CenturyLink Field when the Seahawks got the honor of opening the NFL season as the defending Super Bowl champions.

Seattle’s bye is early for the second consecutive season. It’s after Week 5’s home game at the Los Angeles Rams. Last year it was after the fourth game, also in October.

Seattle’s home opener is Sept. 17 against San Francisco, a two-win team in 2016 with a new regime led by first-time head coach Kyle Shanahan and first-time general manager John Lynch. The Seahawks are also likely to be favored the following week at Tennessee, at home Oct. 1 against Indianapolis and Oct. 8 at the Los Angeles Rams.

Thus, a chance for a fast start and the rest of the NFC West chasing Seattle all season.

At least that’s what it looks like on paper.

The Seahawks finish the regular season at Dallas on Christmas Eve and at home against NFC West arch-rival Arizona on New Year’s Eve.

The last few seasons the Seahawks and Cardinals meetings have determined the division title, and their two games this year figure to do the same. Arizona appears to be the biggest threat to the Seahawks’ defense of their NFC West championship. Seattle plays at Arizona Nov. 9 in the Seahawks’ Thursday night game for 2017.

That is one of four primetime games for Seattle. The first is Sunday night, Oct. 1, that home game against the Colts.

The Seahawks’ other marquee home game this fall is Nov. 20 against former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his defending NFC-champion Atlanta Falcons. That’s Seattle’s only Monday night game.

The Seahawks host Philadelphia on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Dec. 3.

Seattle has five playoff teams from 2016 on its ‘17 schedule. The Seahawks have only one dreaded 10 a.m., Dec. 10 at Jacksonville; the rest of their trips to the Eastern and Central time zones are later, afternoon kickoffs. There are no consecutive weekends with road games.