AFC West: 2013 NFL schedule analysis
Breakdown: The schedule-makers must think Mike McCoy can fix Philip Rivers and the Chargers, because even though San Diego has been shut out of the playoffs the past three seasons, the team is on prime time three times this season.
It all starts in Week 1 on the back end of a "Monday Night Football" doubleheader when the Chargers host the Houston Texans in what will be a tough test for McCoy in his head-coaching debut. It will be the seventh time in eight seasons that the league has had a Week 1 MNF doubleheader involving an AFC West team. The Chargers host Andrew Luck and Indianapolis on a Monday night in Week 6, and then the Chargers play at Denver on a Thursday night in Week 15 in a game that has some serious chill potential. But the Chargers will be rewarded for that game by getting to finish the season at home against the Raiders and Chiefs.
Complaint department: The Chargers play five of their first eight games away from home. They have some long trips during that stretch as well. The Chargers have to go all the way to Philadelphia in Week 2, and then they have to load up and go to Tennessee in Week 3. The other first-half road trips are long treks, too -- Jacksonville in Week 7 and then to Washington in Week 9, sandwiched around a bye week, during which I’m sure the team will not want to think about an airplane.
Easy road work: The one good thing about all those early road games is that the schedule is not difficult. San Diego has the easiest road schedule in the NFL this season. So if the Chargers can take care of business at home, they have a chance to string some victories together in McCoy’s first season.
Chargers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 9, Houston, 10:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 14, Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Cincinnati, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, NY Giants, 4:25 p.m.
Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 12, at Denver, 8:25 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.
Breakdown: It’s no surprise, but Peyton Manning and his band are a popular bunch. The Broncos, who have the easiest schedule in the NFL based on 2012 results, will be in prime time five times. It all starts Sept. 5 in the NFL's season opener on a Thursday night. It has become a tradition to start the NFL season at the home of the defending Super Bowl champions, but because of a conflict with the Baltimore Orioles, the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens are starting on the road. This is a big break for Denver. The crowd will be sky high in the rematch of a painful double-overtime defeat for Denver in the playoffs. The Broncos remain in the spotlight in Week 2 when Manning travels to New York to meet his brother Eli Manning and the Giants. This will be the third meeting between the brothers and the first since Peyton left the Colts; Peyton is 2-0 against his younger sibling. In another big game, in the Sunday night game in Week 7 Manning returns to Indianapolis, where he spent 14 seasons. That game could be perhaps the most emotional of Manning’s career.
Complaint department: The Broncos have to be pretty happy with this schedule, but there's a potential problem with two road games to end the season. If Denver needs to clinch something, it may have to do it on the road. It plays at Houston in a potentially huge AFC game in Week 16 and then at Oakland in Week 17. The good thing is there won’t be any snow in either game.
Reunion year: Manning’s trip to Indianapolis and the Manning Bowl aren’t the only reunion games on Denver’s schedule. Free-agent prize receiver Wes Welker returns to New England in Week 12. Mike Shanahan, who coached the Broncos for 14 seasons before he was fired after the 2008 season, returns to Denver for the first time with Washington in Week 8. Of course, the Baltimore game also marks the return of pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil. He left the Broncos after the infamous fax machine gaffe.
Broncos Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 5, Baltimore, 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, at NY Giants, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 23, Oakland, 8:30 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Philadelphia, 4:25 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at Dallas, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Jacksonville, 4:05 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, Washington, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Kansas City, 4:05 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at New England, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 12, San Diego, 8:25 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Breakdown: Forgive Andy Reid if he doesn’t realize he is coaching in the AFC West for a while. After spending the past 14 seasons as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the new Kansas City Chiefs coach doesn’t waste time before resuming his NFC East slate.
Spanning Weeks 2-4, Reid and the Chiefs play the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia and the New York Giants. Who says you can’t go home? Of course, the showcase game will be the trip to Philadelphia. It has been given the juice it deserves, as it will be played on a Thursday night (the Chiefs’ only prime-time game) in Week 3. Actually, I bet Reid is grateful to get that game out of the way early.
Complaint department: At first glance, this seems like a pretty manageable schedule for the Chiefs. But the stretch run won’t be easy for a team that many think could rebound and fight for a playoff spot. Kansas City plays three of its final four games on the road, and its one home game is against the tough Colts. So, the Chiefs better not be staggering heading down the stretch.
Strong up the middle: The Chiefs can make some noise in the middle of the schedule. Spanning Weeks 6-8, they play three straight home games against the Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns. Kansas City then plays at Buffalo and then has a bye. If the Chiefs are going to make a move, this will be the time.
Chiefs Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 15, Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Thursday, Sep. 19, at Philadelphia, 8:25 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 29, NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Oakland, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Denver, 4:05 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, San Diego, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at San Diego, 4:25 PM
Breakdown: The Oakland Raiders are trying to improve their secondary. The group will be tested immediately. Oakland starts the 2013 season at Indianapolis and faces quarterback Andrew Luck in Week 1. In Week 3, the Raiders travel to Denver to face Peyton Manning in a Monday night game. In Week 4, Oakland faces Robert Griffin III and Washington. In Week 5, the Raiders play Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. So, we will learn a lot about this evolving defense early in the season. If the Raiders can hang on, they could control their own destiny late in the season. They play each AFC West foe in the final three weeks of the season, including a home date against defending AFC West champion Denver in Week 17.
Complaint department: The Raiders do a ton of traveling from Weeks 10-14. In that time span, the Raiders have one home game squeezed between four road games. The Raiders visit the New York Giants on Nov. 10 and go back to visit the Jets on Dec. 8. In that month span they travel more than 16,000 miles. Last season, 21 teams traveled fewer miles than that the entire season. But that’s kind of the way it goes for a team on the West Coast.
Turkey Day time: The Raiders will play at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. The Raiders lost at Dallas on Thanksgiving in 2009. The Dallas game and the Monday night game at Denver are Oakland’s only nationally televised games.
Raiders Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 15, Jacksonville, 4:25 PM
Week 3: Monday, Sep. 23, at Denver, 8:30 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 29, Washington, 4:25 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, San Diego, 4:25 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, Pittsburgh, 4:05 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Philadelphia, 4:05 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Tennessee, 4:05 PM
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28, at Dallas, 4:30 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at NY Jets, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Kansas City, 4:05 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at San Diego, 4:25 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Denver, 4:25 PM