The 2012 NFL Schedules came out on April 17th. This report takes a quick look at what each team’s schedule looks like. Some interesting games will be noted, along with comments about the pace of the schedule, trap games, etc. We go in alpha order. This is part two – Part one, showcasing the first 16 teams was posted earlier today.
NOTE: Pre-draft Power ratings have been assigned. Schedule difficulty has NOT been determined. Sometime in May-June, after the draft has long been completed we will assign Post-draft Power ratings. At that time we will compute the schedule difficulty for each team, obviously based on the opponents each team will face and their Power #’s, which are not based on the win-loss record of a year ago. The post-draft ratings and schedule difficulty will remain in place until after week #3 of the pre-season. At that time we will finalize our opening 2012 seasonal Power #’s and schedule difficulty.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Miami and their new staff have an interesting schedule. They open at Houston and then host Oakland and their new staff. Next they host the NYJ. Ex-HC Sparano is now the Jet’s OC and he brings Tebow and the Wildcat formation back with him. Games at Arizona and Cincy won’t be easy although this team clearly has defensive talent. Hosting STL before the bye should be interesting as it brings Jeff Fisher to town. He turned down the coaching offer! The game after the bye at the NYJ is favorable, with the Jets off a game at New England. Miami’s prime time game is 11/15 at Buffalo. December is not easy, but Miami may get to face ex-QB Henne when the Jags visit on 12/16. Under “normal” circumstances this would be a team on the rise in our eyes. They have a + point ratio and a -9 fumble ratio that could be corrected. They actually closed ’11 with a Power # of 26.5, and had 28 potential. For now we have them at 25, but will be curious to see how the draft goes and what August looks like. Maybe they can have some hidden +’s, but will the new staff be ready to go?
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The ’12 schedule gives Minny a shot at a confidence building 2-0 start with games vs., Jacksonville and their new coach and at Indy and their new coach. Week three sees Minny and LB coach Singletary hosting his former SF team. That could be highly interesting. Games 5-10 are before the bye and read Tennessee, at Washington, Arizona, Tampa (SNF), at Seattle and hosting Detroit. If Peterson is healthy and if Ponder can improve perhaps Minny makes a little bit of noise with this schedule. Remember, the Vikings open ’12 with a + point ratio. Games 11-16 are far tougher, with road games vs. Chicago, GB, STL and Houston and home games vs. Chicago and GB. What we don’t like is the defensive coaching staff and that awful pass D%. The Power # could rise, but for now we have it at 20.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: By record the Pats have the NFL’s easiest schedule. They open with three of four on the road (Tennessee, Baltimore in playoff revenge and Buffalo) so a fast start is not a guarantee. They play just three teams who had winning records in ’11. After Baltimore, it’s not until games 13 and 14 (Houston, at SF) that the Pats face winning teams. Game #8 is in London vs. STL and is technically a road game for New England, giving them just seven true road games. WR Manningham helped win the Super Bowl for the NYG and the Pats will see him and fellow ex-NYG Jacobs when they host SF. New England’s only “trap” game may be the week after that when they travel to Jacksonville. No team on their schedule will have a bye week prior to facing the Pats! We will start New England with the 2nd highest Power # (31) and could move it up if they actually stick around in the early part of the NFL draft and take highly rated players instead of trading back as usual.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: New Orleans will be challenged in ’12 thanks to coach and probable player suspensions but the schedule they were given is somewhat generous! Games 1-3 are vs. Washington and a potential rookie QB, at Carolina and home to KC. They play on SNF 10/7 vs. San Diego, meaning it’s Brees vs. Rivers, with ex-Charger Sproles also in the mix. Games 7-13 are a bit trickier then people might think, and that is where New Orleans will either make or miss the playoffs. It starts at Tampa and at Denver, with Denver having an enormous situational plus. It continues with great road team Philly coming to town on MNF, followed by rival Atlanta with the Saints having one less day of preparation time. The Saints must avoid a letdown heading to Oakland before facing a determined SF team, and later traveling to Atlanta and to the NYG. Games 14-16 are easier but will it matter? Will the upgrade at DC and team personnel trump all the turmoil? We start the Saints at a Power # of 30, of course pending who will be suspended in the opening week and month of the season.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: According to those who compute schedule strength just by won-loss records from the previous year, the NYG are the 1st Super Bowl winning team to come back the next year with the NFL’s toughest schedule. Once we do our post-draft Power #’s we will see where they are on our list, but suffice to say that games vs. the AFC Central and the NFC South will be challenging. Don’t forget that SF’s 1st place schedule also means revenge games for Green Bay and SF. Still, games 1-5 are not bad, with the opener vs. Dallas, a Thursday game at Carolina, and extra time to prepare for the road affair at Philly. When they visit SF the Giants will meet up with former teammates Jacobs and Manningham. When they travel to Cincinnati on 11/11 they will bring ex-Bengal Keith Rivers with them. The bye week is late, but at least when they host revenge-minded Green Bay they will have the extra time and the Packers will be off a road game at Detroit. Perhaps the savvy Gaints survive all this, but the December slate is not conducive to a fast finish. It reads at Washington on MNF, a short week before hosting New Orleans, at revenge-minded Atlanta, at Baltimore and home to Philly. The Giants are a solid team that finished with a Power # of 28 after the ’11 regular season. We’ll move it up now to 29.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The Jets had a + point ratio going for them in ’10, but the double digit turnover ratio angle was a negative last year. There are no angles to report now, but the pre-bye schedule (weeks 1-8) could be a killer! We’ll know early what Mark Sanchez’s confidence level will be after facing four of the top six point defenses from a year ago, back-to-back-to back-to back! OUCH! This happens in games 2-5, at Pittsburgh, at Miami, home to SF and home to Houston. Week #7 is at New England and week #8 is home to Miami. The Jets are awful past and present as a HF and Miami will be off a bye. The schedule lightens up after the bye but still features five road games (two are back-to-back) and tough home games vs. New England on SNF and San Diego, also on SNF. Do the Jets need to be a better team to mange this schedule? The answer seems to be yes. Our starting Power # is 27, but given the early schedule we may not keep it there come opening day.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Oakland once again opens the season by playing in the nightcap of the opening week MNF doubleheader. Last year they snapped a string of eight opening day losses. The staff is new and must come out ready to roll not only playing SD, but with the short week going to Miami, the host of veteran Pittsburgh and the trip to Denver. These games will not be easy so having the bye after the 4th game is a good chance for the new staff to regroup. Games at Atlanta, KC and Baltimore will be tough, and the game hosting a probably fully stocked New Orleans team in week 11 will be tough as well. Traveling to Cincy will be pressure packed and full of emotion for former Cincy QB Palmer and former Oakland HC Jackson. Oakland gets three home games in a row after that but must be careful not to have an immediate letdown. The final two games are at Carolina and SD. With a – point ratio and a new staff once again we don’t have high expectations for ’12. Oakland is barely participating in this draft as it is. After ending ’11 with a Power # of 24.5 we start them now at 23.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Philly continues to have a knack for winning the tough games and letting down in easier games. This year their mantra should be to strive for greater consistency. They have situational plusses opening at Cleveland, but situational minuses next, hosting Baltimore. The last time they visited Arizona they were upset in the NFC Championship game. Andy Reid is 13-0 SU off a bye and they face Atlanta this year in that scenario. New Orleans is a solid team but the Eagles are amazing as a road dog, and 10-5 ATS as a MNF road dog. Maybe that translates into a SU win. They are strong at home on MNF and face Carolina at home week 12. An interesting December game is hosting Cincy on a Thursday night. Cincy is 7-3-1 SU in the series. You ask about the tie? That was the game QB McNabb found out NFL games can end in a tie! Closing games are in Division vs. Washington and at the NYG. Expectations should be high for the Eagles in ’12, with player continuity, a + point ratio, and an easy opportunity to erase a -14 turnover ratio. The Power # starts at 30.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Pittsburgh has a tough 1st six games, four of which are on the road. They have trouble in road openers but do have overtime playoff revenge at Denver. They struggle as a road favorite in October and must play at Cincy and Tennessee, both in prime time! The battle vs. Philly is always tough. This is an older team that has to play 13 games in a row beginning 10/7, so watch for late fatigue. Games 8-12 are highly interesting. They go to the NYG, face KC on MNF with former HC Haley now the Steeler’s OC, face Baltimore with one less day of focus, and have a trap game at Cleveland right between Baltimore games. December continues tough with a host of SD and a trip to Dallas, but the closing games are home to Cincy and Cleveland. We’ll start Pittsburgh with a Power # of 29, watching the OC transition and the new faces on defense.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: San Diego’s schedule is fair and at 1st glance, nicely paced. They open at Oakland on MNF, and then host Tennessee, a team they’ve easily handled the last twenty years. QB Rivers likes revenge games and he gets them week four at KC and week six at Denver. Between those games the Chargers must travel to New Orleans and face old teammates Brees and Sproles. Games 6-9 after the bye are manageable, with SD taking a trip to Tampa where Vincent Jackson now resides. A three game stretch vs. physical Baltimore, home to Cincy and at Pittsburgh won’t be easy, and in fact SD has lost their last 14 regular season games at Pittsburgh. SD closes at the physical NYJ and home to Oakland. We’re used to setting Power #’s here around 30 but SD has regressed from that level. Still, as the only AFC West team heading into the ’12 season without a – point ratio we are going to give them the top Divisional #, right now at 27.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The Rams have started awfully slow lately but Jeff Fisher gets a September schedule that offers some hope. Games 1-6 are at Detroit, Washington (new QB), at Chicago, Seattle, Arizona, and at Miami (new staff). QB Bradford is healthy and in year #3 so maybe they can get to at least 3-3. Unfortunately, the Rams wanted so badly to play in London that they gave up a home game this year and will return to London in the future. The 2nd half of the schedule is tougher. Games 9-12 include a pair with SF along with a trip to play the Jets. Games 13-16 feature three road games, STL finished LAST with a Power # of 14.5 (circled, with Bradford out) in ’11. We have them 27th as of now, with a pre-draft Power # of 21.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: SF’s schedule has its good and bad points. The good is that after playing at the NYJ on 9/30 the 49ers have just one more road game before 11/25. Most of these five home games have situational plusses, and all except the revenge game vs. the NYG are against non-playoff teams from ’11. The road game is also winnable, at Arizona. The bad is playing a tough 1st four games, playing four of five road games between weeks 11-15, and the overall schedule difficulty increase. Games 1-4 are at GB, home to Harbaugh’s head coaching “friend” in Detroit, at Minny, where Mike Singletary now resides as LB coach, and at the NYJ. Games 11-15 include a pair of back-to-back road trips. The 1st pair starts at New Orleans in an emotional game and then they need to regroup at STL. The 2nd pair sees them on the east coast at NE and then back on the west coast at Seattle. Playing the AFC East, NFC North, New Orleans and the NYG makes this a tougher task than in ’11. SF also has five prime time games. The Power # is currently set at 29, still clearly higher than their Divisional foes.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Seattle’s schedule isn’t bad, but the 1st half of the schedule is definitely tougher than the 2nd half. Not one of these games is a guaranteed win, so Seattle better be ready at QB, WR and with special team play. They host GB on MNF, meaning ex-Packer Flynn may be facing his old teammates. The short week may hurt them, traveling to STL off this emotional game. They are 0-2 at improved Carolina and after that play in succession New England, at SF and at Detroit. This almost looks like a 2-6 start! Three of the 1st four games after the week 11 bye are on the road, but maybe only the game at Chicago will be a cold weather affair since the Buffalo game is in Toronto and they have a closeable roof. Should Seattle still be in the wildcard and/or Divisional race, getting home games vs. SF and STL to close out the season is a good thing. Again, like most teams with QB uncertainty, the Power # is a bit lower. 23 is our #, and the early schedule will test it.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Tampa has a new coach, and being from the college ranks we tend to feel a greater adjustment time may be necessary. The team looks improved and certainly underachieved in ’11 so the potential for improvement is there. The September schedule is not an easy one for a new staff, with games 2-4 at the NYG, at Dallas, and vs. their former coach Morris, now on the staff at Washington. New coaches need an earlier bye week, so the week five bye is a good thing. The rest of the schedule is fairly manageable. The roughest stretch starts 11/18 at Carolina, but even that game has been winnable in the past. Games after that include Atlanta, at Denver in possibly their only cold weather game, home to Philly and at New Orleans. We’re setting a Power # of just 19 thus far, but so much needs to be deciphered before the real games start. Plusses include free agency gains and a shot to fix a -16 turnover ratio, especially with a HC who had a string of + turnover ratios in college. Minuses include a – point ratio (so they were even worse than their 4-12 record), and an adjustment time for the new staff, especially with a somewhat tricky early schedule.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Tennessee has one of the toughest opening schedules for ’12. They host three playoff teams (New England, Detroit, and Pittsburgh) and travel to four sites (SD, Houston, Minny and Buffalo) where they may just go about 1-3. If they come away 3-4 after this the Titans could easily make a playoff push. They will still have five Divisional games left, have a bye between their only back-to-back road games, and face just one team (at GB) that realistically would factor in the loss column. Indy and Jacksonville have new staffs and the Titans play four games vs. these opponents as part of their final nine games. There’s hope, IF they can get through the early schedule. The Titans are an incomplete team but maybe with more upside at QB as compared to Power rated teams in the 23 range. We are looking at 25 (average) as a start.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: How will Mike Shanahan handle his young QB and RB’s this year? Washington must play three of its first four games on the road, with game #4 at Tampa, where current DB coach Morris was the head guy last year. Their 1st Divisional game is not until week seven, at the NYG. The Giants won’t take the Redskins lightly after going 0-2 vs. Washington. Both were double digit losses! The bye is late, at week 10. Whatever the record is, the schedule-maker has done Washington a small favor, scheduling five of their six Divisional games in weeks 10-16. This means the Redskins should stay motivated all season long. The team looks improved and even with a new QB has a chance to make inroads toward fixing their -14 turnover ratio, but winning the close games requires strong 4thquarter coaching adjustments plus clutch field goal kicking and this team suffers in both areas. The Power # is the Power # is set at 23, with any adjustments to be made after August.