NFL Nation: 2013 AFC schedule analysis

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: Coach Gus Bradley and the Jaguars’ new regime kick off against the other team that won only two games in 2012 when Kansas City visits Jacksonville on the NFL’s opening Sunday. Like the Jaguars, the Chiefs are under new leadership, headlined by Andy Reid. But he inherited a team with more talent in place, and the Chiefs dealt for veteran quarterback Alex Smith. Although Kansas City earned the top pick in the draft, it’s likely to be favored in this one.

The Jaguars go on the road for back-to-back games three times, and they have a three-game homestand in December. Their Oct. 27 "home" game against the 49ers in London comes after a home game against the Chargers and is followed by a bye week.

Complaint department: I thought two games in 17 days between the Colts and Titans was unreasonable, so the even-faster turnaround for the Jaguars’ games against the Texans is utterly ridiculous. They play Nov. 24 at Reliant Stadium, and then again Dec. 5 at EverBank Field in a Thursday night showcase. Why not just put the games back-to-back?

I’m sure the scheduling puzzle is even more complicated and difficult than I imagine. But the NFL needs to implement a rule that rematches between division opponents must have at least two weeks in between them. It would produce far more intrigue than games played in quick succession where little is likely to change about either team.

Bonding opportunity: After that reasonable opening day home game against the Chiefs, the Jaguars get consecutive games on the West Coast, at Oakland and at Seattle, where Bradley was defensive coordinator before Shad Khan and David Caldwell hired him for the Jaguars' head job.

Back-to-back trips from the Atlantic to the Pacific don’t seem real fair. But I wonder if Bradley and the Jaguars won’t make a move to negate all that travel in a season when they will also play in London. They could do so by finding a place in or near Oakland or Seattle to stay and practice for the week between games. Since the team holds training camp at its facility, the week away would serve as an early season micro-training camp, offering a young team a chance to bond while away from home.

Jaguars Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Denver, 4:05 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, San Diego, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, San Francisco, 1 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Arizona, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 5, Houston, 8:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Tennessee Titans schedule analysis

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
10:07
PM ET
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: A tough early season schedule resulted in a 1-4 start for the Titans last season. They’ll face another big challenge out of the gate in 2013 in what qualifies as a make-or-break season for coach Mike Munchak. Four of the first seven games are against tough teams, at tough road venues or both.

Those include the opener at Pittsburgh, a Week 2 game at Houston, Week 6 at Seattle and Week 7 against San Francisco. The Titans will probably need to fare well in a three-game homestand sandwiched between those two pairs of games -- against San Diego, the Jets and Kansas City.

The Titans play the Steelers for the sixth consecutive season. Tennessee has lost three of the past five matchups against Pittsburgh, including the 2009 Thursday night opener at Heinz Field, a 13-10 overtime loss.

Complaint department: The NFL continues to prove incapable of spacing out divisional rematches at a reasonable interval. The Titans face Indianapolis twice in a span of 17 days, in Weeks 11 and 13. It could, I suppose, wind up being favorable if they catch the Colts at a time of season when they are banged up. But that’s the point, really. The two games between division rivals should be spaced far enough apart that they see each other at different stages of the season and won’t benefit, or suffer, from the same injuries.

The Titans' game at Lucas Oil Stadium is sandwiched between long road trips to Oakland (where the Titans have lost three in a row, including the 2002 AFC Championship Game) and to Denver in what can be a very difficult stretch away from home for a young team.

Potentially big finale: The league has filled the final weekend of the regular season with all divisional matchups. If the Titans are going to surprise people and emerge as a playoff team, odds are it will require an upset in the last week of the season when they host the Houston Texans, the team that’s won the division the past two seasons.

Tennessee has lost three out of its past four against the Texans, winning only the 2011 season finale when the Texans had clinched their playoff positioning and went for, and missed, a 2-point conversion after a late touchdown to ensure there'd be no overtime.

Titans Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 15, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 22, San Diego, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 29, NY Jets, 4:05 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, San Francisco, 4:05 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 14, Indianapolis, 8:25 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Denver, 4:05 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Arizona, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Houston, 1:00 PM

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The Cincinnati Bengals will open on the road for the fourth straight season when it plays at the Chicago Bears, who are beginning the Marc Trestman era. In an unusual trend, this marks the fifth time in eight years that Cincinnati opens against a team that is in its first year with a new coach. The Bengals beat Herm Edwards and the Chiefs in 2006, lost to John Harbaugh and the Ravens in 2008, fell to Josh McDaniels and the Broncos in 2009, and beat Pat Shurmur and the Browns in 2011.

Cincinnati plays two of its first three games at Paul Brown Stadium and its last two games at home, which might not be a big advantage if the Bengals duplicate last season. The Bengals were 4-4 at home in 2012 and 6-2 on the road. The Bengals will play their last two games at home -- against two playoff teams from last season in Minnesota and Baltimore -- for only the second time in the last 16 seasons.

The Bengals have the latest bye week in the division. Their off week comes in Week 12.

Complaint department: Smack in the middle of the season, the Bengals play four road games in five weeks. This might not be a problem because, as noted earlier, the Bengals were one of the best road teams in the league last year. Cincinnati also catches a break because three of those road trips come against teams that had losing records last season (Buffalo, Detroit and Miami). The fourth road game is at defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore. This grueling road stretch comes after the Bengals play the New England Patriots at home.

Ready for prime time? After making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the Bengals are getting more respect, receiving three prime-time games. Two of those national television matchups are against the Steelers. The other is a Thursday night game at Miami on Oct. 31. Cincinnati now has to prove it's ready for prime time. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Bengals are 1-9 in the national spotlight. This ties the Jacksonville Jaguars for the worst record in prime time during that stretch.

Bengals Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Monday, Sept. 16, Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, NY Jets, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9: Thursday, Oct. 31, at Miami, 8:25 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Baltimore, 1 p.m.

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

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.
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The Colts look to have a favorable start and finish to their 2013 slate. They open against Oakland, against Miami, at San Francisco and at Jacksonville. We know teams can make major jumps in one season, just as the Colts did last year. But our reference point is last season. And while the 49ers are the defending NFC champions, the other three teams combined for 13 wins in 2012 and certainly appear beatable.

Indianapolis’ final two games are at Kansas City and against Jacksonville. A road trip to Arrowhead Stadium in the dead of winter is never easy, and the Chiefs are likely to be far better at the end of their first season under Andy Reid than at the start. Still, they were the worst team in the league in 2012. The Jaguars were the other two-win team. The top two picks in the draft, providing neither team trades back, will be at the end of their initial seasons. They could be worn down or they could have found a rhythm.

Complaint department: The Colts get an unfair deal in advance of what may qualify as the NFL’s regular-season game of the year. Sunday night football On Oct. 20 should be a huge ratings game as Peyton Manning returns to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with the Denver Broncos.

Indy will be recovering from a West Coast road trip on a short week for "Monday Night Football" at San Diego. The Broncos, meanwhile, will be coming off a home game against Jacksonville. It’s not exactly an even Week 6, but these sorts of things happen and the Colts will have to be ready even if they won’t be as well rested as the Broncos.

Favorable division rematches: The Colts’ second games against each of their AFC South opponents come in the final five weeks of the season and are all at home. Indianapolis hosts the Titans in Week 13, the Texans in Week 15 and the Jaguars in Week 17. That Texans game could be crucial for deciding the division crown and the Colts have a huge advantage. Houston has lost all 11 times it’s played in Indianapolis.

In all, five of Indianapolis’ last nine games are against AFC South teams.

Colts Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Seattle, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 14, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Denver, 8:30 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, St. Louis, 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 14, at Tennessee, 8:25 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Buffalo Bills schedule analysis

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
9:10
PM ET
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The Buffalo Bills are a team in transition. They claim they are not rebuilding and want to win now. However, Buffalo has significant changes at head coach, quarterback and offensive and defensive coordinator this upcoming season.

Fortunately for the Bills, they have the 26th-ranked strength of schedule, which is the easiest schedule in the AFC East. But Buffalo must get a lot of things together internally this offseason before it feels confident to succeed in the regular season. The biggest challenge will be settling the quarterback competition between veterans Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson and a potential top rookie draft pick.

Complaint department: I thought it was cruel of the NFL to give Buffalo rookie head coach Doug Marrone his first assignment against the New England Patriots in his first game. Marrone was hired from Syracuse and now has to match coaching strategies against Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. It is a chance for Marrone to make a huge statement in his NFL debut. But there is also the likelihood that the Marrone era could get off to a losing start in Week 1.

Not prime time: After the Bills made a splash in free agency last season and flopped, you had a feeling television networks would not have much interest in putting the Bills on in prime time this season. Buffalo has just one national game, against the Cleveland Browns, on Thursday, Oct. 3. The Bills have one of the most electric players in the NFL in tailback C.J. Spiller, but a national audience will get a chance to see Spiller just once this season.

Bills Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at NY Jets, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Thursday, Oct. 3, at Cleveland, 8:25 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, NY Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Atlanta, 4:05 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at New England, 1 p.m.
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The schedule-makers believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to bounce back from a disappointing 8-8 season. The Steelers play four prime-time games, including two in the first three weeks of the season. After opening at home against the Tennessee Titans -- the first home game to start a season since 2010 -- Pittsburgh is at the Cincinnati Bengals for "Monday Night Football" and home against the Chicago Bears for Sunday night.

The other national TV games are at Baltimore on Thanksgiving night, which will hardly be a family affair, and home against the Bengals for Sunday night on Dec. 15. Barring a flex situation, the two meetings between the Steelers and Bengals are in prime time. The Steelers go from the national spotlight to the international one, when they face the Minnesota Vikings in London on Sept. 29.

The reunion with Mike Wallace is Dec. 8, when the wide receiver returns to Heinz Field for the first time since signing his five-year, $60 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. Will Wallace be able to break a long one against his former team? The Steelers ranked first in pass defense last season and allowed two passes more than 40 yards, the fewest in the NFL.

Complaint department: The Steelers really can't complain about getting another early bye. Pittsburgh has to take off in Week 5 because that follows its trip to London. But the Steelers can't be too happy with what follows the bye. Pittsburgh plays three out of four games on the road, including a trip to New England a week after a cross-country flight to Oakland (where the Steelers always seem to have problems). The only home game in October is against the Ravens, who have won three straight times at Heinz.

Looking for a fast start: Pittsburgh has had sluggish starts in three of the past four seasons. The Steelers began 2-3 in 2012, 2-2 in 2011 and 1-2 in 2009. It will be a challenge to get off to a better start in 2013. The Steelers begin against the Titans, who beat Pittsburgh last season, and then play at the Bengals, who have been to the playoffs the past two seasons. Pittsburgh's next two games are against the NFC North's Bears and Vikings, who were a combined 21-11 last season.

Steelers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Monday, Sep. 16, at Cincinnati, 8:30 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 22, Chicago, 8:30 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 29, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at NY Jets, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Baltimore, 4:25 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at New England, 4:25 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28, at Baltimore, 8:30 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Cincinnati, 8:30 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Green Bay, 4:25 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Cleveland, 1:00 PM

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

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.

New York Jets schedule analysis

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
9:03
PM ET
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: It’s only fitting that the circus begins right away for New York. The NFL, with a cruel dose of irony, scheduled a home game for the Jets against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1. These are the same two teams in heavy trade talks for star cornerback Darrelle Revis.

Would the Jets trade Revis to Tampa Bay only to face their best player in the first game of the season? An already interesting situation just became more compelling. The Jets would like to get off to a fast start to a new era under general manager John Idzik in addition to a must-win year for coach Rex Ryan. Shipping your best player to a Week 1 opponent is not a formula for success.

The Jets are a rebuilding team in need of confidence after back-to-back losing seasons. New York has the 19th-ranked strength of schedule. That’s not bad, but considering the team is struggling on offense and at quarterback and could lose Revis, the Jets are not a lock to win against any opponent this season.

Complaint department: The NFL really stuck it to the Jets to start the season. Not only did the league schedule the possibility of facing Revis to open the season, but New York also travels to play the rival New England Patriots on Thursday night in Week 2. The Jets will have a short week of preparation against their biggest division rival. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jets 0-2 just five days into the regular season.

Wild card: Although it’s hard to top a potential “Revis Bowl” in Week 1, New York also must face former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine twice this season with the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 22 and Nov. 11. Pettine left the Jets to take over the play-calling duties on defense with Buffalo. The Bills will run a similar scheme and it will be fun to watch Pettine match his skills against former mentor Ryan, who also will be calling the defensive plays in New York.

Jets Regular-Season Schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 12, at New England, 8:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, Buffalo, 4:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 7, at Atlanta, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at Cincinnati, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Carolina, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Miami, 1 p.m.

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

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

Houston Texans schedule analysis

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
8:48
PM ET
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: Houston plays four times in prime time, but only one of those games is at home. The Texans are at San Diego on opening weekend, at San Francisco in Week 5, against Indianapolis in Week 9 and at Jacksonville in Week 14’s Thursday night game.

The Texans' final five games are tough. The home games are against two of the AFC’s very best teams, New England and Denver, while the three road games are against their three division foes. The trips to the West are over after Week 10, so even though those can tire a team out, Houston won’t have to deal with any long travels as the playoffs approach.

Houston will play in five cities in which it's never won: Arizona (0-1), San Francisco (0-1), Baltimore (0-3), San Diego (0-1) and Indianapolis (0-11).

Complaint department: The Texans have a very tough road start. They open in the second half of the "Monday Night Football" doubleheader at San Diego. In Week 3, they are at defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore. And in Week 5, they head to the West Coast again to meet defending NFC champion San Francisco.

In exchange for a nationally televised opener against the Chargers, the Texans get a tough turnaround. Kickoff is at 9:20 CT in San Diego, so the team will get back to Houston around dawn Tuesday and have a short week to prepare for their home opener against Tennessee in Week 2.

The road schedule softens after the first three, with only Indianapolis threatening to provide a major obstacle.

Stacked up against tough quarterbacks: In Weeks 3, 4 and 5, the Texans face three of the best teams on their schedule that boast something Houston struggled with mightily in 2012 -- top-flight quarterbacks. They are at Baltimore against Joe Flacco, home against Seattle and Russell Wilson and at San Francisco against Colin Kaepernick. They have an even worse QB stretch late when they’ll be charged with slowing Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning in a four-week stretch.

Perhaps the first run against good QBs will help them be more prepared for that late stretch.

Texans Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 9, at San Diego, 10:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, at Baltimore, 1p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Seattle, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, St. Louis, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Indianapolis, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, New England, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 5, at Jacksonville, 8:25 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Denver, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The defending Super Bowl champions are in demand, playing four nationally televised games this season. It starts with the expected Thursday night opener at Denver, where the Ravens won an epic, double-overtime AFC divisional playoff game last season. The other three prime-time games are in the final five weeks of the season. The highlight is a Thanksgiving night game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore. The Ravens are also on national television twice in December with games at Detroit and home against New England in a rematch of the past two AFC Championship games.

The two-time defending AFC North champions face one division team in the first six weeks of the season. That's the home opener against Cleveland on Sept. 15. Half of the Ravens' final 10 games are against AFC North teams, including a regular-season finale at Cincinnati for the third straight season.

The Ravens got lucky in terms of potential bad-weather games. Baltimore plays at Denver and Buffalo in September and at Chicago in November.

Complaint department: The biggest complaint will always be starting the season on the road. The Ravens become the first defending Super Bowl champion to open away from home since 2003, because of a scheduling conflict with the Orioles.

The other trouble spot is a stretch in which the Ravens play four times on the road in a five-game stretch. Baltimore plays at Buffalo, Miami, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. None of those teams made the playoffs last season. The only home game in that span is against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Of course, the Ravens are helped by the fact that they have a Week 8 bye during this road stretch.

Return of Reed: The Ravens never had to face Ray Lewis or Jonathan Ogden. But, on Sept. 22, the Ravens will go against safety Ed Reed and his new team, the Houston Texans. This will be a surreal homecoming for Reed, who is regarded as the third-best player in franchise history. When he returns to M&T Bank Stadium, it will be about seven months removed from his helping Baltimore win the Super Bowl. Reed signed with the Texans after the Ravens declined to beat Houston's three-year, $15 million offer. It will be a challenge for Reed to force a turnover out of Joe Flacco, who threw five interceptions at home last season.

Ravens Regular-Season Schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 5, at Denver, 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Cleveland, 1:00 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, Houston, 1:00 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at Miami, 1:00 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Green Bay, 1:00 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, at Cleveland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, Cincinnati, 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, NY Jets, 1:00 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 28, Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Minnesota, 1:00 p.m.
Week 15: Monday, Dec. 16, at Detroit, 8:30 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, New England, 8:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at Cincinnati, 1:00 p.m.

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The Patriots had some roster turnover this offseason. However, the reigning AFC East champions remain hot with television networks and landed five prime-time games. That is the most in the division in 2013.

New England has been a dominant force in the AFC East for the past dozen years. The Patriots have another opportunity to establish their division dominance right away by starting with two rivalry games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. A 2-0 start within the division could set the good tone for New England.

But it's rarely about the regular season for the Patriots. This is a team that routinely wins double-digit games. The key will be winning enough in New England to position itself for another deep playoff run.

Complaint department: It’s hard to complain about the schedule when you’re the Patriots. Sure, New England has a respectable 14th-ranked strength of schedule this year. But you never get the sense that any stretch is too overwhelming for a team that has played in back-to-back AFC title games. The biggest complaint I have for New England is the late bye, which doesn’t come until Nov. 10. This is a veteran team that’s struggled with injuries the past few seasons. New England could be an ailing bunch playing every week straight until mid-November. Keep an eye on injuries with the Patriots in the first two months of the season.

Welker returns to Foxborough: Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker will make his much-anticipated return to Gillette Stadium on Nov. 24 as a member of the Denver Broncos. This will be a prime-time game on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." Welker left the Patriots in free agency amid controversy. New England low-balled Welker on a contract extension and Denver was able to land the receiver with a modest two-year, $12 million contract. The Patriots, in turn, signed younger replacement Danny Amendola. Both teams are Super Bowl contenders, and Welker will be motivated to play well against his former team. This is also another clash between future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in what should be one of the year's best matchups.

Patriots Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 8, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Thursday, Sep. 12, NY Jets, 8:25 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 22, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sep. 29, at Atlanta, 8:30 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, New Orleans, 4:25 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at NY Jets, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Pittsburgh, 4:25 PM
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Monday, Nov. 18, at Carolina, 8:30 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Denver, 8:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at Houston, 4:25 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Baltimore, 8:30 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Buffalo, 1:00 PM

NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

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

Miami Dolphins schedule analysis

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
8:25
PM ET
NFC schedule analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Breakdown: The Miami Dolphins loaded up in free agency -- and for good reason. This is a 7-9 team expected to make the jump into playoff contention this season. But in order to do so, the Dolphins must be good enough to survive the eighth-toughest strength of schedule in the NFL.

That explains the signings of quality free agents such as receiver Mike Wallace, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, tight end Dustin Keller and cornerback Brent Grimes. The Dolphins needed to add playmakers on both sides of the football if they wanted to compete with the top teams on their schedule.

The television networks have taken notice. Miami will have three prime-time games this season. The Dolphins will play road games against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 30 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 11 on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” in addition to playing the Cincinnati Bengals on “Thursday Night Football” on the NFL Network.

Complaint department: How good are the Dolphins? We will find out right away in the month of September. Miami plays three of its first four games on the road. The Dolphins will play at the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, at the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, home against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3, and at the New Orleans Saints in Week 4. This is a rough way to begin the season. Miami’s pass defense struggled last season, and the Dolphins will face quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in consecutive weeks.

Wallace and Ellerbe Bowls: Wallace will play against his former team -- the Pittsburgh Steelers -- on Dec. 15 at Heinz Field. This is an interesting matchup for two AFC teams expected to be playoff contenders this coming season. Wallace signed a $60 million contract, the Dolphins' biggest free-agent signing this offseason. Wallace was a former third-round draft choice in Pittsburgh in 2009. Ellerbe will face the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 6 in Miami. Ellerbe won a Super Bowl with the Ravens last season before signing a $35 million contract with Miami.

Dolphins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, at Cleveland, 1:00 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, at Indianapolis, 1:00 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, Atlanta, 4:05 p.m.
Week 4: Monday, Sept. 30, at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Baltimore, 1:00 p.m.
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at New England, 1:00 p.m.
Week 9: Thursday, Oct. 31, Cincinnati, 8:25 p.m.
Week 10: Monday, Nov. 11, at Tampa Bay, 8:30 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, San Diego, 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Carolina, 1:00 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at NY Jets, 1:00 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, New England, 1:00 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, at Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, NY Jets, 1:00 p.m.

SPONSORED HEADLINES