NFL Nation: Schedule 09 AFC East
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Breakdown: Upon scanning the New York Jets' schedule, one aspect that stands out is they probably won't have to deal with the elements much. Aside from their home games, half of which will be played by Nov. 1, the Jets will visit four domes, two Florida opponents and one West Coast team.
They might not be as thrilled as the Miami Dolphins were last year to be chosen as the Bills' opponent in the Toronto dome, but I'm guessing the Jets aren't broken up about avoiding Ralph Wilson Stadium in December.
The Jets' last five games will be in cozy confines. Two games are at home and the other three are at Toronto, at Tampa Bay and at Indianapolis.
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Complaint department: The Jets have only two prime-time games, and neither is at home. They will play the Miami Dolphins on Monday night in Week 5. The Week 13 game in Toronto will be on Thursday night.
Crucial stretch: If the Jets want to remain in the playoff hunt, they'll need to take advantage of their schedule in October and November. Starting with Week 6, they will play four of their next six games at the Meadowlands and have their bye week smack dab in the middle.
One of the road games in that stretch will be Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders, their longest trip of the season. But the schedule makers helped out by sandwiching that game between two home dates.
Jets regular -season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, NEW ENGLAND, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, TENNESSEE, 4:15 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at New Orleans, 4:05 p.m.
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 12, at Miami, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, BUFFALO, 4:15 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Oakland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, MIAMI, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, JACKSONVILLE, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at New England, 4:15 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, CAROLINA, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Dec. 3, at Buffalo (Toronto), 8:20 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, ATLANTA, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Indianapolis, 4:15 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, CINCINNATI, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: The New England Patriots didn't make the playoffs last year, but they didn't lose their cachet. With Tom Brady back to run the offense, New England has been selected for four prime-time games and three center-stage kickoffs at 4:15 p.m. on CBS in addition to their previously scheduled London showcase.
The Patriots will open the regular season against the Buffalo Bills in Gillette Stadium on "Monday Night Football." Their other three prime-time games will be on the road in a four-week stretch: at the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night in Week 10, at the New Orleans Saints on Monday night in Week 12 and at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night in Week 13.
The Patriots will meet two AFC East rivals right out of the chute, hosting the Bills and visiting the New York Jets, but the Patriots won't play another divisional game until after their Week 8 bye.
But the Patriots might not have as much on the line as the rest of the division in December. They will have only one divisional game over the final four weeks, heading to Orchard Park, N.Y., in Week 15.
Complaint department: The Patriots don't have two sets of back-to-back West Coast games like they did last year, but they still have a lot of ground to cover, including the Week 7 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London.
The Patriots will log roughly 20,374 round-trip miles this year, almost twice as many as the Bills. Subtract the Wembley Stadium game and the Patriots still would have logged about 5,500 more miles than the Bills.
Five of the Patriots' eight road games will cover at least 2,300 round-trip miles for games at London, Denver, Houston, New Orleans and Miami.
Catching up with old friends: The Patriots will host the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff left the Patriots front office to turn the Falcons into a playoff team last year.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick will match X's and O's against his former offensive coordinator, new Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, in Week 5.
Patriots Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 14, BUFFALO, 7 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, ATLANTA, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, BALTIMORE, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Denver, 4:15 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, TENNESSEE, 4:15 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Tampa Bay (London), 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, MIAMI, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Indianapolis, 8:20 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, N.Y. JETS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 30, at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Miami*, 8:20 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, CAROLINA, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, JACKSONVILLE, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: The Miami Dolphins have the NFL's most rugged schedule based on their opponents' 2008 records. They had one of the easiest last year, facing the AFC West and NFC West, divisions that produced a combined .352 winning percentage and one winning record.
But the AFC East's non-division foes will be the AFC South and NFC South, which produced four playoff teams. The aggregate winning percentage of Miami's 2009 opponents was .594.
And so opens the Dolphins' schedule in 2009.
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The first three weeks of their AFC East title defense won't be easy. They will square off with a playoff team in their first three games. The Dolphins will open at the Atlanta Falcons, then host the Indianapolis Colts on "Monday Night Football" and, despite the short week, fly cross country to play the San Diego Chargers.
Complaint department: The Dolphins better hope they have a winning record heading into December because making up ground will be challenging.
Four of their last five games will be against the New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers, a season finale that will feature linebacker Joey Porter against his old team with the playoffs potentially on the line.
Prime-time players: Miami didn't have any prime-time games last year, but will play four in 2009, three in Dolphin Stadium.
The home opener will be against the Colts on Monday night in Week 2. Three weeks later the Dolphins will host the Jets on Monday night. The Dolphins will visit the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night in Week 11 and host the Patriots on Sunday night in Week 13.
Dolphins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Monday, Sept. 21, INDIANAPOLIS, 8:30 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at San Diego, 1:15 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, BUFFALO 4:05 p.m.
Week 5: Monday, Oct. 12, N.Y. JETS, 8:30 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, NEW ORLEANS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at New England, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, TAMPA BAY, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 19, at Carolina, 8:20 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, NEW ENGLAND*, 8:20p
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Tennessee, 12:00 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, HOUSTON, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, PITTSBURGH, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: Unfortunately for Buffalo Bills fans, a new annual tradition when the NFL releases its schedule is learning which game they will lose to Toronto. The Bills and New York Jets will play in the Rogers Centre on Thursday night in Week 13.
That's the only scheduled prime time Bills game other than the previously announced Monday night opener against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. So Bills fans probably won't get to watch night football in Ralph Wilson Stadium this year, depending on flex scheduling from Weeks 11 through 17.
So much for Terrell Owens adding enough star power to get some more prime time attention.
The Bills didn't play an AFC East opponent last year until Week 8, and went 0-6 within the division. They'll find out what they're made of a lot sooner this year, facing each divisional opponent before Halloween. They play the Patriots in Week 1, the Miami Dolphins in Week 4 and the Jets in Week 6.
Complaint department: Aside from losing another divisional game and forfeiting potentially advantageous climate conditions to a domed stadium in Toronto, there's not much reason for Buffalo fans to be displeased.
The Bills will travel only 10,812 roundtrip miles, by far the shortest itinerary among AFC East teams. While the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets have at least one trip that will cover 3,000 roundtrip miles or longer, the Bills have only one trip longer than 1,750 miles: Miami at roughly 2,300 miles.
The Bills will land west of the Mississippi River once all season, when they venture all the way to Kansas City in Week 14.
Lynch unavailable: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch for three games.
Everybody knew Lynch would miss the season opener at New England, but now we know -- unless Goodell reduces the suspension on appeal -- Lynch also will be forced to watch non-divisional games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 and New Orleans Saints in Week 3. Both of those games are in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Lynch will be back for the Week 4 game against the Dolphins.
Bills Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sep. 14, at New England, 7 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 20, TAMPA BAY, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 27, NEW ORLEANS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Miami, 4:05 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, CLEVELAND, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at N.Y. Jets, 4:15 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Carolina, 4:05 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, HOUSTON, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, MIAMI, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Dec. 3, N.Y. JETS (Toronto), 8:20 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, NEW ENGLAND, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, INDIANAPOLIS, 1 p.m.