NFL Nation: Schedule 09 AFC West

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Breakdown: All eyes on will be on coach Norv Turner and his Chargers at the start of the season. While the Chargers have won three playoff games under Turner in two seasons, they have started slowly in both seasons. In 2008, San Diego became the first team to make the playoffs after starting the season with a 4-8 record.

If the Chargers are going to avoid yet another slow start, it will depend on the first month of the season.

After starting the season on the road in Oakland, the Chargers play 2008 playoff teams Baltimore, Miami and Pittsburgh. Two of the three games are at home. If the Chargers, who play at Pittsburgh for the third time in less than 11 months, can get out of the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 record, they could be off to the races.

The Chargers move out of the early stretch with three straight games against AFC West foes Denver, Kansas City and Oakland. The Chargers went 5-1 in division games last season.

Complaint department: After their Week 2-4 stretch, the Chargers have a couple of tough stretches. They have to play the New York Giants and Philadelphia in back-to-back weeks in November. San Diego has to play at Dallas and Tennessee (on Christmas night) in December. Both teams will likely be on the playoff hunt.

Starting in Oakland again: This will be the seventh time the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders open the season against each other. The Raiders have been the host team every time. The trend continues with a Monday Night Football game this season. The Raiders have won five out of the first six games. San Diego's only win against the Raiders on opening day was in 2006 on a Monday night game in which the Chargers won 27-0 in Philip Rivers' first NFL start.

Chargers regular-season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sep. 14, at Oakland 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 20, BALTIMORE, 4:15 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 27, MIAMI, 4:15 p.m.
Week 4:
Sunday, Oct. 4, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m.
Week 5:
Sunday, Oct. 11, BYE     
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19, DENVER, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Kansas City, 1  p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, OAKLAND, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at N.Y. Giants, 4:15 p.m.
Week 10:
Sunday, Nov. 15, PHILADELPHIA, 4:15 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Denver, 4:15 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, KANSAS CITY, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Cleveland, 4:05 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Dallas, 4:15 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, CINCINNATI, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Friday, Dec. 25, at Tennessee, 8:30 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, WASHINGTON, 4:15 p.m.

Raiders schedule analysis

April, 14, 2009
4/14/09
8:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Breakdown: The Raiders may know where they stand in the AFC West early in the season. Oakland plays all three division foes in the first three weeks of the season.

Two of Oakland's first three games are at home; the Raiders open the season at home on a Monday night against San Diego, then travel to Kansas City before hosting Denver. The Raiders won their final two games of the 2008 season to finish 5-11.

The Raiders have two prime-time games: one against the Chargers to start the season and at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

Complaint department: The Raiders don't have much to complain about. They really have a manageable schedule. They open and close the season at home. The only complaint Oakland could have is it plays back-to-back road games three times this season, including dates at Dallas and Pittsburgh, but there is a 10-day break between the games.

No more Shanahan: The Raiders have had to love the turmoil in Denver as both Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler have left Denver. Shanahan, who coached Oakland for 20 games in the late 1980s, torched Oakland. He was 21-7 against the Raiders in 14 seasons. When Oakland hosts Denver in Week 3 and plays at Denver at Week 15, it will be comforted to know Shanahan won't be on the opposing sideline.

Raiders regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sep. 14, SAN DIEGO, 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 20, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 27, DENVER, 4:15p
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Houston, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11,at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, PHILADELPHIA, 4:05 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, N.Y. JETS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, BYE     
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, KANSAS CITY, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, CINCINNATI, 4:15 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, at Dallas, 4:15 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, WASHINGTON, 4:05p
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Denver, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, BALTIMORE, 4:15 p.m.
 

Chiefs schedule analysis

April, 14, 2009
4/14/09
8:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Breakdown: The network television suits don't expect much from the Kansas City Chiefs as they begin the Scott Pioli and Todd Haley era. The Chiefs, who have won a combined six games in the past two seasons, don't have any prime-time games.

If the Chiefs are going to be taken seriously in 2009, they will have to make their mark in the first three quarters of the season. The last playoff team Kansas City meets is the defending AFC West champion Chargers in Week 12. The Chiefs play their final five games against Denver (twice), Buffalo, Cleveland and Cincinnati. The Chiefs' final two games are against the Bengals and the Broncos on the road.

The key for Kansas City is a fast start. Six of Kansas City's first 12 opponents advanced to the playoffs last season, including three of its first four opponents.

Complaint department: The NFC East is widely considered one of the best divisions in the NFL. The Chiefs play all four NFC East teams in consecutive weeks, starting in Week 3. Road trips to Philadelphia and Washington are sandwiched with home games against Dallas and the New York Giants. The Chiefs play only two of their six divisional games in the first half, against Oakland and San Diego.

Cassel-McDaniels circus: We'll have to wait for one of the most anticipated meetings in the AFC West. The Chiefs don't play Denver until Week 13, in Kansas City. The Chiefs play at Denver to end the season on Jan. 3. All eyes will be on these matchups as new Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel faces former New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is the new head coach in Denver. McDaniels started a firestorm by trying to trade for Cassel before he was sent to the Chiefs. It resulted in Jay Cutler being traded to Chicago.

Chiefs regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 13, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 20, OAKLAND, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 27, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, NEW YORK GIANTS, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, DALLAS COWBOYS, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, SAN DIEGO, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, BYE     
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, PITTSBURGH, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, at San Diego, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, DENVER, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, BUFFALO, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, CLEVELAND, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Denver Broncos, 4:15 p.m.
 

Broncos schedule analysis

April, 14, 2009
4/14/09
7:42
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Breakdown: The Josh McDaniels era begins in Denver with a fairly easy start. McDaniels' regime starts in Cincinnati on Sept. 13. The last time Denver started the season at home was 2004.

The Broncos open their home schedule against Cleveland on Sept. 20. The Broncos then visit AFC West rival Oakland in Week 3. None of those teams won more than five games in 2008.

If the Broncos, who are completely rebuilding on defense, have any chance to have a solid season it will need to start fast. If Denver starts 1-2 or 0-3, it could be a troubling season for McDaniels in the Rocky Mountains.

The Broncos will get some 'Monday Night Football' love. They play at AFC West champion San Diego on Oct. 19 and host Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh on Nov. 9.

Complaint department: The Broncos enter a nasty stretch in Week 4 with a home game against Dallas. The Cowboys didn't make the playoffs, but they could be an elite team. Then it's a four-game stretch when Denver plays AFC powerhouses New England, San Diego, Baltimore and Pittsburgh to end the first half of the season. Denver could be battered at the mid-point.

Playing Belichick: New England coach Bill Belichick has had some memorable games against former protégés. McDaniels, who was New England's offensive coordinator, will face Belichick and the Patriots in Denver in Week 5 on Oct. 11. McDaniels is the offensive guru and Belichick is the defensive mastermind.

Broncos regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, CLEVELAND, 4:15 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at Oakland, 4:15 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, DALLAS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, NEW ENGLAND, 4:15 p.m.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19, at San Diego, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Bye
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 9, PITTSBURGH, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Washington, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, SAN DIEGO, 4:15 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, NEW YORK GIANTS, 8:20 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Indinapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, OAKLAND, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, KANSAS CITY, 4:15 p.m.

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