No Sleep Till Football

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NFL Schedules Are Out! v.AFC East

The NFL Schedule release! A pretty sweet day when we can at long last start figuring out who will make the playoffs! You know that picks in April are almost always guaranteed Vegas bets don’t you!? Let’ go through the schedules one division at a time! Maybe slow but it gives me 8 guaranteed blog posts and with the NFL Draft being tomorrow, things could get busy around here for football!

New England Patriots (10-6 in 2009, AFC East Champions)

Bengals
@ Jets
Bills
@ Dolphins (Monday Night)
BYE WEEK
Ravens
@ Chargers
Vikings
@ Browns
@ Steelers (Sunday Night)
Colts
@ Lions (Thanksgiving)
Jets (Monday Night)
@ Bears
Packers (Sunday Night)
@ Bills
Dolphins

The aura of invincibility that once surrounded the Patriots has waned a bit over the last 2 seasons. At first because of Tom Brady’s knee injury, but last season saw the Patriots look old at times while looking downright awful in a home playoff loss to the Ravens 33-17!

A couple of thoughts here. The first is that the Patriots have a horrific schedule. They draw the other 3 division winners in the AFC plus the AFC North & NFC North! Good grief. Yeah Cleveland & Detroit are easy targets but both are on the road, Cleveland is off the bye week and the Lions game in Thanksgiving which makes it a short week.

What New England faces out of the bye week is nuts. Ravens, Chargers, Vikings, Browns, Steelers, Colts! Roethlisberger will be back from suspension by this time, but could be rusty so maybe New England catches a break, but those 6 games (Browns will always be tough because of the Mangini/Belichick factor) are brutal! New England gets Detroit, but on the short week.

The last 5 games aren’t exactly easy after Detroit. They get the Jets, Dolphins, Bears, Packers & Bills with road games in Chicago & Buffalo! Can you say FREEZING weather in December? Good Lord!

BEST CASE: 15-1 – It’s still the Patriots and Belichick is still the coach. The only guaranteed loss I see is the road game against the Jets. Plus it’ll be Brady in his 2nd year after his knee injury and I can’t see the defense getting worse. I think New England will find a way to get the linebacking core better. Jerod Mayo is a beast and Belichick will surround him with players.

WORST CASE: 3-13 – The schedule is brutal. A major problem for New England is age and a lot of the teams they face are younger and getting better while most of the Patriots have probably peaked. Cincinnati isn’t a bad team and could make New England 1-3 before the bye. If Cleveland musters up a “Play One for the Mangenius” game & Jay Cutler has one of his amazing games then the only real guaranteed wins I see for New England are the two Buffalo games and the Thanksgiving game against Detroit. The Ravens, Vikings, Colts, Jets, Packers & Dolphins are all capable of beating New England at home. This would truly be a doomsday scenario!

New York Jets (9-7 in 2009; 2nd Place AFC East)

Ravens (Monday Night)
Patriots
@ Dolphins (Sunday Night)
@ Bills
Vikings (Monday Night)
@ Broncos
BYE
Packers
@ Lions
@ Browns
Texans
Bengals (Thanksgiving)
@ Patriots (Monday Night)
Dolphins
@ Steelers
@ Bears
Bills

Getting the AFC Championship game was a shot across the bow for the rest of the AFC. Rex Ryan isn’t going anywhere and Mark Sanchez can only get better right? I don’t think the Jets will miss Thomas Jones with Shonn Greene taking over at tailback. They have all their receivers back (including Santonio Holmes) and Ryan running the defense. A couple of thoughts here.

The early part of the season isn’t exactly easy for the Jets. They start the season off with back-to-back home games, but they are against the Ravens & Patriots! Then they get the Dolphins & Bills on the road before a home game against Minnesota then a road date in Denver before the bye. That’s the toughest stretch the Jets have, but if they can navigate through that muddied water, they’ll get a couple weeks to rest and then should blow through the 2nd half.

Like New England and the other AFC East teams, New York gets the AFC North & NFC North which isn’t exactly easy, but unlike the Patriots, Ryan & Mangini have no storylines and the Jets don’t get a short week road game against the Lions during a brutal stretch. I do think New York catches a break having to face 2nd place teams Houston & Denver instead of 1st place teams Indianapolis & San Diego.

BEST CASE: 16-0 – The schedule sets up well for the Jets. It’s not that brutal and the early part of the season can be managed because they get NE, Baltimore & Minnesota at home and they are simply better than the Dolphins, Bills & Broncos. If they get through the early part of the season unscathed, they’ll have a shot at running the table with only road games at New England & Pittsburgh standing in their way.

WORST CASE: 5-11 – Not quite as bad as New England would fare, but things could blow up in a hurry for the Jets. Mark Sanchez will still only be a 2nd year QB playing for a 2nd year coach. You could at least argue the Jets were over their head a bit last season. Opening up against the Ravens & Patriots isn’t fantastic. They could lose those games and a road game in Miami won’t be a cupcake. They could start 0-3 in a nightmare scenario. They could easily lose to Minnesota although I’d think they’d beat both Buffalo & Denver despite both being road games. They’ll have to to get to 2-4 before the bye. Aftewards I think the Week 11 & 12 games against Houston & Cincinnati could get interesting. Houston is good enough to beat them and then they get a short week before the Bengals. They could lose both games. The only guaranteed wins I have them getting is @Buffalo, Buffalo, @Denver, @Cleveland & @Detroit. The 5-11 scenario is hard because I think at worst they 4-4 on the road and 1-7 at home isn’t going to happen. The only way 5-11 happens is if New York implodes at home.

Miami Dolphins (7-9 in 2009, 3rd Place AFC East)

@ Bills
@ Vikings
Jets (Sunday Night)
Patriots (Monday Night)
BYE
@ Packers
Steelers
@ Bengals
@ Ravens
Titans
Bears (Thursday Night)
@ Raiders
Browns
@ Jets
Bills
Lions
@ Patriots

Miami probably gets a break here as they take on 3rd place teams in the AFC although they were a bad Buffalo loss away from being 8-5 going into the last 3 weeks of the season that saw them lose all 3 by close margins. Miami wasn’t that far away from being an 11-5 squad that won the AFC East. Another odd part about Miami’s season last year was that they were able to beat the Jets twice! No small order.

The last 7 games of the schedule aren’t bad for Miami. Even assuming losses to the Jets & Patriots on the road, Miami still has the Lions, Bills, Browns, Raiders & Bears. If Miami is playing up to potential they should easily be 5-2 out of that 7 meaning 5-4 in the remaining 9 puts them at a very playoff likely 10-6.

The problem is those other 9 games. Weeks 2 thru 10 are simply brutal for Miami. They’ll play a stretch that goes @MIN, NYJ, NEP, BYE, @GBP, PIT, @CIN, @BAL, TEN!!! I don’t think they have any shot at winning road games against the Vikings, Packers & Ravens. Playing a road game against Cincinnati could be dicey. The Steelers game won’t be bad because that’ll be the 6th and final game Roethlisberger will be gone and it’s a home game.

Playing 3rd place teams isn’t that great for Miami. It means Tennessee & Pittsburgh who were playoff contenders right up until the end last year. A year prior the Titans were 13-3 and the #1 seed in the AFC while the Steelers went home with a Lombardi Trophy.

BEST CASE: 11-5 – A solid record but it’s still Chad Henne’s 2nd year as a starter and the Dolphins lose Jason Taylor on defense and also lose NT Jason Ferguson for the first 8 games. The Dolphins could navigate their way through it, but I don’t see how they don’t lose road games against the Jets, Patriots, Ravens, Vikings & Packers. Playing the NFC North is brutal, but getting both of those games on the road is worst case scenario.

WORST CASE: 4-12 – While the Dolphins have 5 definite losses, I think they have 4 definite wins too. I think they’ll beat Chicago at home on Thursday night. I also think getting home games against the Bills, Browns & Lions are wins too. The one game that might have you scratching your head is the road game against Oakland. The Raiders suck but they did find a way to beat the Eagles, Bengals & Steelers last season.

Buffalo Bills (6-10 in 2009, 4th Place AFC East)

Dolphins
@ Packers
@ Patriots
Jets
Jaguars
BYE
@ Ravens
@ Chiefs
Bears (In Toronto)
Lions
@ Bengals
Steelers
@ Vikings
Browns
@ Dolphins
Patriots
@ Jets

In reality not a bad play for the Bills. My cousin & I were talking about this very phenomena and I think it’s safe to say the Bills won’t get into the playoffs in 2010 so why not take on a brutal schedule that includes the NFC North & AFC North which will probably make your record even worse than what your team really is. This way you are rewarded a higher draft pick than your actual team value probably deserves.

The Bills are breaking in a new coach in Chan Gailey and could potentially take Jimmy Clausen with their first round pick tomorrow! That’s brutal fellas! If the Bills want J-Claus to start from the jump then things could get downright ugly!

The Bills have somewhat of an up and down schedule. They aren’t one of the NFL’s best squads so most of the teams they’ll play should have an advantage. The first 7 weeks are pretty bad followed by 4 rather mild weeks. The last 6 weeks should be brutal again outside of the home date against the Browns, but Buffalo will have a shot to play spoiler for a lot of teams in the last 6 weeks who certainly won’t want a loss to Buffalo on the schedule.

BEST CASE: 6-10 – Not any better than in 2009. I think Buffalo could get wins at home against Miami, Jacksonville, Chicago, Detroit & Cleveland. The only road win I can see Buffalo winning is the date in Kansas City. Buffalo doesn’t have any winnable road games really. They draw Baltimore, Green Bay, Cincinnati & Minnesota on the road. That ain’t pretty.

WORST CASE: 1-15 – Yeah, they could lose them all,but they do get home dates against Detroit & Cleveland, but I think the Lions will keep improving under Jim Schwarz with Matt Stafford at QB. But Cleveland? Jake Delhomme was awful for a Panthers team that was good enough to make the playoffs. He’s not going to a dreadful Cleveland team! They’ll definitely turn it around under Mike Holmgren, but not in year 1 which will give Buffalo at least one guaranteed win.

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April 21, 2010 - Posted by | Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL Schedule

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