Plenty has been said about the 2012 schedule and no doubt that all the analysts and commentators will be picking through each team’s schedule to come up with the pros and cons facing each franchise, but how about a quick one-take line of each team and their schedule – so here goes for the AFC teams.
The AFC East should see plenty of storylines this year, and none will be bigger than the arrival of Tim Tebow in New York, they finish their regular season away from home though with three out of their last four games on the road. The Patriots are the other way round and have the luxury of three of their last four games on the frozen FieldTurf of Gillette Stadium. The Bills well you won’t be seeing much of them – no Monday Night games and very little primetime Sunday action. Miami well they have it tough, between September 23 and November 11, the Dolphins have only one home game (vs. Rams), which is sandwiched between two road games, a bye, and two more road games.
The AFC North is tough tough division and things don’t and won’t get any easier this year – the Browns are probably one team you can leave out of the equation and they are still focused on building a team, so it’s best to focus on the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals here. The Ravens face the Steelers twice in 14 days, that brutal both in terms of scheduling and games, although the same could be said for the Steelers who only have two home games before October 28th. The Bengals well can they build on last season, in a tough division that remains in doubt especially with the Steelers and Ravens remaining strong adversaries.
In the end the Texans limped into the post-season last year, but at least they mastered the Colts last year – minus Manning and they won’t have to worry about him this year in Indianapolis. Even with a 5-11 record we saw the Jaguars twice on MNF – we won’t see them at all this year. For the Titans once Thanksgiving has come and gone it will be all about divisional battles as they only play two rivals from the AFC South pre the festivities. For the Colts the exit of Manning has seen them disappear from the prime-time schedules and you have to think that apart from the interest in Andrew Luck it’s going to be a mundane year in Indianapolis.
Talking of Manning his new team the Broncos will be all over the TV this year as the new darlings of the prime-time schedule and that will stick in the craw of divisional rivals the Chiefs who could look a very dangerous side this year if they get over their injury problems from last year. Making up the rest of the division are the Chargers and the Raiders, the former are the perennial underachievers and their schedule has a strange look about it – from September 23 through November 25, the Chargers have only one Sunday home game. The Raiders, well they are entering a new era, life after Al Davis, and their quarterback Carson Palmer will be returning to a former home in Cincinnati on November 25 after saying he would never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again.