DJ Gallo's essential NFL schedule analysis
April, 19, 2013
By DJ Gallo | ESPN.com
If you’ve been waiting to get your Miami Dolphins tickets, act now before they’re all snatched up.
While you deal with being on hold due to heavy call volume, take a look at some of the highlights of the 2013 slate.
The Super Bowl champion Ravens open on the road
The season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 5 with the Ravens visiting the Broncos. (Attention, Broncos defensive backs! Try not to stand flat-footed as deep passes sail over your head!) It is customary for defending Super Bowl champions to open at home, but due to a scheduling conflict with an Orioles home game that same day, the Ravens were pushed to the road. It was not the doing or the preference of the NFL.
Will the Ravens ignore those facts and view their Week 1 scheduling as a massive sign of disrespect by the NFL league office, all other NFL teams, Major League Baseball, the United States of America, the world and all neighboring galaxies? Most definitely. Ray Lewis may be gone, but the Ravens are still the Ravens.
The Carolina Panthers have the toughest schedule
Or: They have a 1-in-32 chance of having the toughest schedule. Their 2013 opponents had a .543 winning percentage in 2012, which theoretically gives Carolina the toughest schedule. But every team still has draft picks to make. Every team will still sign players or cut players. Every team will have players suffer injuries. Teams’ 2012 regular-season records mean absolutely nothing in 2013. Ask the Falcons and Broncos. They can confirm this.
The Denver Broncos have the easiest schedule
Again: theoretically. Denver’s 2013 opponents had a combined 2012 record of 110-146 for a .570 losing percentage. Interestingly, the Chargers have the second-easiest schedule, the Raiders have the fourth-easiest and the Chiefs have the fifth-easiest. Ooh! I think I’ve cracked the case! Getting to play six games against AFC West teams = cake schedule.
RG III’s Week 1 opponent is ...
... the Eagles at home! We have heard near-daily reports on RG III’s Week 1 readiness -- and will no doubt continue to hear them until his first snap -- but if he can’t make it back until Week 2, he’ll face the Packers. Week 3? The Lions. Week 4? The Raiders. Week 5 is a bye, but Week 6? Cowboys. Week 7: Bears. Week 8: Broncos. Week 9: Chargers. Week 10: Vikings. Week 11: Eagles. Week 12: 49ers. Week 13: Giants. Week 14: Chiefs. Week 15: Falcons. Week 16: Cowboys. Week 17: Giants. No doubt RG III will return for one of those games ... unless he is on Derrick Rose-style return timeline, in which case the 2016 NFL schedule has not been released yet.
The Jets were scheduled for 16 games
Yep. Brutal. This is a team that needed a break from the NFL. Maybe a season off from football, but the league gave them a full slate. Ooof. This is going to be ugly.
Head coach Rex Ryan has yet to express disappointment about being scheduled to play 16 games against professional football teams, but he does have an opinion on the Ravens having to open on the road:
“I understand the Orioles are playing a game at home. Well, who really cares?" Ryan said. "You've got 81 of them things at home, and maybe you could've done the right thing and given one up and played 82 on the road and 80 at home. I really don't think people are going to care about that game.”
So Ryan believes NFL football trumps everything else in life. Yep, despite all evidence to the contrary, he is officially an NFL head coach. And he clearly doesn't have a baseball fetish.
The Titans and Eagles got stuck with three-game road trips
They are the only NFL teams to get stuck with three games in a row on the road. Those stretches could be the downfall of their seasons. More than likely, though, being the Titans and Eagles will be what does them in.
The games I should circle on my calendar are ...
Wha? You have a calendar? That you circle things on? Who helped you access the Internet? Hey! Stop writing on my iPad! Mom! Grandpa is writing on my iPad again!
But assuming you are an NFL fan, who cares what the “best” games might be? A) There’s no way to really know. And B) You’ll watch any NFL game that’s on TV. Let’s not pretend we’re discerning. Crappy regular-season NFL games crush the World Series in the ratings.
Huh. Maybe Rex Ryan has a point. I need a shower.
Andy Reid returns to Philadelphia in Week 3
There’s no possible way for the Eagles to exit this game with more than three wins. This fact will really bolster the case of those in Philadelphia who backed Reid for so many years because “who is out there who could do better?”
Their delusion will go something like this: “Three wins is nothing! Andy Reid won more than three games every year he was here!”
The Thanksgiving games are Packers-Lions, Raiders-Cowboys and Steelers-Ravens
Good scheduling by the NFL here. If Ndamukong Suh is for some reason unable to deliver the ultra-violence we now expect on Thanksgiving Day, Steelers-Ravens in the nightcap will surely come through.
The Cowboys' schedule is ranked 25th-toughest in the NFL
Whoa! They’re probably going to win the Super Bowl, you guys! This is the year! It’s Tony Romo’s time!
Peyton Manning and Eli Manning play in Week 2!
So Peyton Manning opens with Joe Flacco and then has to play Eli Manning. Apparently the NFL schedule makers think it’s funny to taunt him with quarterbacks who somehow have as many, or more, Super Bowl wins than he does. And they’re right. It is kind of funny.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady play in Week 12!
Well, they play almost every week. But in Week 12? It’s against each other! Whoa.
The Broncos, Giants and 49ers all could be the BEST TEAM EVER or the WORST TEAM EVER after Week 2
Denver opens with the Ravens and Giants. The Giants open with the Cowboys and Broncos. The 49ers open with the Packers and Seahawks. All tough games. If either team manages to open 2-0, we will all get to do our customary Week 2 overreaction and declare them an unstoppable force that may cruise to the Super Bowl. WILL THEY GO 19-0??? However, if any of these teams open 0-2, we can all freak out and declare their seasons on the ropes. IS [HEAD COACH] ABOUT TO GET FIRED???
Week 2 overreaction is always the only guarantee on the NFL schedule.