NFL Nation: AFCW Schedule Analysis 2012

Breakdown: The Chargers will be on "Monday Night Football" twice. They open the season at Oakland in the second game of a Monday night doubleheader. The Chargers must get used to playing in prime time. They have five night games and they come early in the schedule.

The Chargers play in prime time in Week 5 -- at home on Sunday night against Drew Brees and the Saints. San Diego will then play at Denver against Peyton Manning on Monday night in Week 6. The Chargers host Kansas City in a Thursday night game on Nov. 1 and will visit Tim Tebow and the Jets on Dec. 23.

Complaint department: The Chargers have challenges throughout the season, especially in the second half with some difficult road games. Playing at Pittsburgh in Week 14 and the Jets in Week 16 is not ideal for a team that will likely be playing meaningful late-season games.

Start fast: Starting fast is always paramount in San Diego. This season is no different with coach Norv Turner on the hot seat. After opening at Oakland, the Chargers have tough home games against the Titans and Falcons in Week 2 and Week 3, respectively. Starting strong was a problem until last year when the Chargers fell apart with a six-game losing streak in the middle of the season. But if the Chargers don’t start quickly in 2012, the pressure will be on Turner.

Chargers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 10, at Oakland, 10:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, Tennessee, 4:15 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Atlanta, 4:05 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at New Orleans, 8:20 PM
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 15, Denver, 8:30 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Thursday, Nov. 1, Kansas City, 8:20 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Denver, 4:15 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Baltimore, 4:05 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Cincinnati, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Carolina, 4:05 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at NY Jets, 8:20 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Oakland, 4:15 PM
Breakdown: The Reggie McKenzie, Dennis Allen era starts in style as the Raiders host San Diego on "Monday Night Football" in Week 1. It’s a rematch of a game that knocked the Raiders out of playoff contention last season in Hue Jackson's last game with the team. The Raiders start and end the 2012 season against San Diego. Oakland plays at San Diego in Week 17.

The Raiders host Denver and Peyton Manning on Dec. 6 in a Thursday night game in primetime.

The Denver game falls in the middle of a pivotal three-game home stretch in which the Silver and Black plays against the Browns, Broncos and Chiefs. The Raiders can make a playoff push during that stretch.

Complaint department: There really isn’t too much to complain about with this slate. Only once does Oakland have to play back-to-back weeks on the road and it’s at the end of the season, when it travels to Carolina and San Diego. So, the Raiders better be in good shape heading into the holidays.

Early wake-up call: The Raiders play five games in Eastern Time zone, beginning in Week 2 in Miami. It marks the first time in team history Oakland has to play five games in the Eastern time zone. West Coast teams have often talked about the challenges of playing on the East Coast.

Raiders Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 10, San Diego, 10:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Miami, 4:15 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Pittsburgh, 4:15 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Denver, 4:05 PM
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Jacksonville, 4:15 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Kansas City, 4:05 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Tampa Bay, 4:05 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, New Orleans, 4:05 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Cleveland, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 6, Denver, 8:20 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Kansas City, 4:15 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at San Diego, 4:15 PM

Breakdown: Tony Gonzalez is coming back to Kansas City in Week 1. In his first meeting against his former team, the superstar tight end will try to ruin the opening game of the permanent Romeo Crennel era.

The Chiefs have an interesting stretch after their Oct. 21 bye. They host Oakland on Oct. 28 and then play in a prime-time game at San Diego four games later on Nov. 1. After a long layoff, the Chiefs are back on prime time in their lone Monday night game -- in Pittsburgh on Nov. 12. The Chiefs will face former head coach Todd Haley, who is now the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

Then, the Chiefs have three straight home games, against Cincinnati, Denver and Carolina before playing three of their final four on the road.

Complaint department: The Chiefs’ schedule has two trouble spots. Playing back-to-back prime-time roadies at San Diego and Pittsburgh is not ideal. Having one home game in the final quarter of the season is challenging as well. The Chiefs must enter the final stretch is good shape.

Berry-Johnson meeting: There will be some juice involved in the Chiefs’ Week 2 trip to Buffalo. Kansas City star safety Eric Berry suffered a torn ACL when he was hit by Stevie Johnson in Week 1 last season. Berry has openly questioned the hit. Johnson has denied that it was dirty. Expect emotions to be high.

Chiefs Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, San Diego, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 9: Thursday, Nov. 1, at San Diego, 8:20 PM
Week 10: Monday, Nov. 12, at Pittsburgh, 8:30 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Oakland, 4:15 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Denver, 4:15 PM
Breakdown: Peyton Manning’s first game as the Broncos’ quarterback will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the same team that former Denver quarterback Tim Tebow beat in the playoffs in his final game with the team. The NFL will put Manning in the immediate spotlight -- his Broncos debut and first game since the 2010 season will be on Sunday night in Week 1.

The Broncos have two Monday night games, starting in Week 2 at Atlanta. They play in Week 6 at San Diego as well. The prime-time power of Manning is strong. Denver hosts New Orleans in Week 8 on Sunday night football and plays at Oakland in Week 14 on Thursday night.

The Broncos have the second toughest schedule in the NFL, but they play three of their first four games at home and they play their final two games of the season at home.

Complaint department: It’s simply a byproduct of the tough schedule. There are no breaks. The season looks like one tough stretch. Denver must take advantage of starting and finishing the season at home.

The Ryan Clark factor: The Steelers’ standout safety missed the final game of his 2011 season and he will miss the first game of his 2012 season. He has a physical condition that makes it highly dangerous for him to play in the high altitude of Denver. He lost his spleen and gall bladder after playing a game there in 2007. Just a another reason the Steelers are probably not thrilled to go back to Denver so soon after the painful playoff loss.

Broncos Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM
Week 2: Monday, Sept. 17, at Atlanta, 8:30 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Houston, 4:15 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at New England, 4:15 PM
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 15, at San Diego, 8:30 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, New Orleans, 8:20 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, San Diego, 4:15 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Tampa Bay, 4:05 PM
Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 6, at Oakland, 8:20 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Cleveland, 4:05 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Kansas City, 4:15 PM

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