The NFL released its schedule Thursday night. They're trying hard to make it a big thing, which would be easier, I think, if they didn't do it so close to the NFL Draft. In any case, I offered up tidbits on the first 16 teams yesterday, here are brief thoughts on the remaining 16.
LA Chargers:The schedule doesn't look too bad. Home against Kansas City to start the season, then four of five against the Bills, 49ers, Raiders and Browns. At the Rams is the toughest matchup there. The Chargers annually get off to woeful starts. Maybe this is the year they flip that script.
LA Rams: The Rams will be a fashionable Super Bowl pick, a great team a year ago that added some intriguing pieces in the offseason. And their first four don't look terrible: at the Raiders, then a three-game homestand against the Cardinals, Chargers and Vikings. Two of those teams should be pretty good, but interesting that they don't need to leave the state of California until October 7. They do then play four of five on the road, however, with Seattle and the Saints two of the tough road contests. They're on a bye in Week 12, something to keep in mind for those in FFPC leagues, whose playoffs start that week.
Miami: The Dolphins look to have one of the league's lesser rosters, but at least the schedule looks friendly enough early on. In the first six weeks they have a game at New England, but the other five are all winnable (Titans, Raiders, Bears at home, Jets and Bengals away). I'm not suggesting they'll start 5-1, but it's a nice opening stretch. They'll need that from Week 10 on, when they play the Packers, Vikings, Patriots again, and Jaguars.
Minnesota: The Vikings will also be Super Bowl favorites in the NFC. We'll find out how good they are early on, because they'll play three of their toughest games (At Green Bay, at the Rams, at Philadelphia) in the first five weeks. Yikes. Weeks 12-14 also look tough (Green Bay, and at New England and Seattle).
New England: The Patriots roster seems to have lost a lot this offseason. Brandin Cooks traded, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis and Nate Solder gone in free agency. Some ridiculous speculation that either Gronk or Brady or both won't return. But they still play in the AFC East, so how bad can their schedule ever really look. Four of the final six are against those 10-12 loss teams.
New Orleans: Those first five games: Bucs, Browns, Falcons, Giants, Washington. I think I shall have some Saints on my teams. Midseason stretch of Ravens-Vikings-Rams not as appealing, but New Orleans' final seven games should have no weather issues: Domes, or Carolina and Tampa Bay.
NY Giants: Giants open against the Jaguars' elite secondary. We'll find an indication early on if the Giants are right to say Eli Manning has some good years left (assuming they believe it, which I'm not, although all signs lately point to them drafting Barkley). After that they get some at least perhaps unimposing defensive teams, like the Cowboys, Texans and Saints. Favorable closing stretch (Washington, Titans, Colts in Weeks 14-16).
NY Jets:Jets open at Detroit, and have a couple of other decent early games (Browns and Colts). But they also play a stretch of three out of four against the Jaguars, Broncos and Vikings. December should have a lot of weather games: two at home, two at Buffalo and New England.
Oakland: Raiders open against the Rams, which could be a tough one for Jon Gruden's boys. Schedule alternates good and bad defenses for the next several games -- Broncos, Dolphins, Browns, Chargers, Seahawks, Colts. Both Kansas City games are in the last five weeks.
Philadelphia: You have to like the beginning of the season for the Eagles offense. Granted we don't actually know how good all these defenses will be. But: Falcons, Bucs, Colts and Titans in the first four games. Not bad.
Pittsburgh: Steelers schedule looks OK early (Browns, Kansas City, Bucs) and late (Raiders, Patriots and Saints in Week 14, 15 and 16). At least for their offense, I mean.
San Francisco: Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't lost a start yet. They'll be an underdog at Minnesota in Week 1, and they're at Kansas City and the Chargers in two of their next three, with a home game against the Lions. Sorry guys, 0-4 is not out of the question. A three-game home stand in Week 14-16, but it's against the Seahawks, Broncos and Bears; not necessarily easy for their offense.
Seattle: The Seahawks open the season with three of four on the road. Not easy games, necessarily (Broncos, Bears and Cardinals) but winnable. Vikings and Kansas City in December.
Tampa Bay: The Tampa offense should be OK early. Saints, Eagles, Steelers (although an 0-3 start looks very possible).Three-game homestand in Weeks 12-14 against the 49ers, Panthers and Saints again (before traveling to Baltimore and Dallas in the key playoff weeks).
Tennessee: Titans should be an interesting team; new coaches, new players at some key positions (most notably the Derrick Henry-Dion Lewis tandem). Schedule looks OK: Dolphins, Texans and Eagles in three of the first four, Giants-Washington-Colts in the final three.
Washington:Alex Smith and Company should get off to a decent start. They open against the Cardinals, Colts and Packers before an (ugh) Week 4 bye. The schedule doesn't look too bad throughout, although from Week 12-16 they'll play four of five on the road, tough for a playoff run.